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Saturday, 21st October 2000

West Ham United 1
Arsenal 2

by Staff Writer

The Hammers slipped even deeper into the relegation mire this afternoon following a comprehensive defeat at home to North London neighbours Arsenal.

Two early goals for Arsenal put the game beyond the Hammers, who, despite a valiant attempt to snatch a draw in the second half never really looked like doing so.

It was Arsenal's first away win in the league this season - whilst the Hammers are still searching for their first at home.

The afternoon started with plenty to cheer about for the Hammers - Davor Suker, and even more notably Ian Pearce were on the bench, after lengthy absences. The Hammers lined up with John Moncur retaining his place in the side following an impressive game at Ipswich seven days ago.

Unfortunately the parallels with the Ipswich game continued - we were a goal down inside the first few minutes. A horrendous error by Trevor Sinclair on the edge of the box gifted Pires an gilt-edged opportunity, which to be fair he took with some aplomb.

Nine minutes later and we were 2-0 down. A cross aimed at Dennis Bergkamp was met first instead by the head of Rio Ferdinand, who could only deflect the ball into his own net. Could this already hugely disappointing season get any worse?

Well, not in this game at least. The Hammers consolidated and gave themselves some hope when Stuart Pearce finally scored from a free kick on the edge of the box on 55 minutes, although quite how the ball evaded a packed penalty box is a mystery. Di Canio's dummy certainly helped though.

Minds invariably turned back to the 2-2 draw with Man.Utd earlier in the season - but today it just wasn't to be. To be brutally honest this was as close as we got to getting anything out of the game, as Arsenal continued to look the more impressive side. They had a third 'goal' ruled out for offside late on, and missed one or two chances toward the end that Paulo Wanchope would have been proud of.

Now the Hammers are in a desperate situation. Make no bones, we are deep in the brown stuff, with a quarter of the season now completed. Quite who this sorry state of affairs is down to is open to opinion, but radical changes need to be made NOW.

For starters, it is quite clear that Steve Lomas is not good enough at full-back. That's not a dig at Steve, but Redknapp simply shouldn't be playing him in that position. There's a perfectly able youngster called Adam Newton itching to show what he can do - let's be honest Harry, we need to do something - and fast.

I also said at the tail end of last season that we will miss the presence of Marc-Vivien Foe. That was never so obvious as today, when big Vieira had the run of the midfield, with only the comparatively lightweight trio of Cole, Lampard and Moncur to contend with.

However, it is also clear that several key players are performing way below par. Trevor Sinclair, Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard are just shadows of the players they were last season, and need to buck their ideas up pretty quickly.

Newcastle next week, and we could be playing them at the best time what with the uncertainty over the future of manager Bobby Robson. It is a game that we must take three points from, as a worrying gap is beginning to open ahead of us in the table. Anything less, and we better start getting the prayer mats out ...

Match Facts

West Ham United: Hislop, Winterburn, Lomas, S.Pearce, Ferdinand, Sinclair, Cole, Lampard, Moncur, Kanoute, Di Canio

Subs: Bywater, I.Pearce, Carrick, Diawara, Suker (Moncur 74)

Arsenal: Seaman, Luzhny, Grimandi, Keown, Silvinho, Lauren, Vieira, Ljungberg, Pires, Wiltord, Bregkamp

Subs: Lukic, Dixon, Parlour (Ljungberg 63), Kanu, Henry (Wiltord 77)

Goals: Pires (11), Ferdinand og (20), S.Pearce (55)

Booked: Moncur

Sent Off: None

Referee: D.Gallagher

Attendance: 26,034

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