Filed: Saturday, 6th October 2012
By: Staff Writer
West Ham United fell to their first home Premier League defeat of the season - but gave their opponents a run for their money in the process.
Sam Allardyce has won many famous victories over Arsene Wenger over the years and when Mo Diame put United ahead midway through the first half it looked as if yet another might be on the cards.
But Olivier Giroud restored parity shortly ahead of half time and two late goals - after West Ham's right side had been decimated by injury - ensured all three points went to the visitors.
A win today for the Irons would have ensured the club's best top flight start for nearly 30 years - and having looked all at sea initially they took a deserved lead when Diame scored an absolute belter from out wide have jinked his way into the penalty box.
After Kevin Nolan - usually so assured in and around the six yard box - had missed a golden opportunity to double United's lead, Giroud converted Lucas Podolski's centre to send the team's into the break on level terms.
Following the break, West Ham looked the stronger of the two teams but injuries to the impressive Ricardo Vaz Te - a dislocated shoulder that could keep him out of action until the New Year - and another to the equally effective Guy Demel left United severely weakened on one side.
That gave the away side the impetus to push on and that's exactly what they did 13 minutes from time when substitute Theo Walcott beat Jussi Jaaskelainen at his near post at Arsenal countered.
Six minutes later and the visitors put the game beyond all reasonable doubt when the excellent Santi Cazorla picked his spot from some 25 yards with Jaaskelainen a passenger.
Despite the defeat West Ham could be proud of their efforts today with a thoroughly engaging performance.
Andy Carroll, back in the starting line-up for the first time since his debut led the line superbly and went close twice, once either side of the break - firstly when forcing Vito Mannone to make a save from a corner and then when he beat the 'keeper to the ball with his header narrowly missing the target.
Although all in the camp will no doubt be disappointed with the defeat, that impressive start gave the Hammers a comfortable cushion going into today's fixture which meant defeat certainly wasn't the end of the world.
A two week international break now ensues before West Ham return to action against Southampton - a game they will be hoping to win in order to continue their good form that was temporarily halted by a strong Arsenal side.
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09:12AM 9th Oct 2012
''"Impressive Vaz Te"? I thought he was largely ineffective again. That we did as well as we did up the right was far more down to Demel. I had my doubts about him last season, but he's now looking like an excellent player and was my Hammer of the match (man of the match, inevitably, has to be Cazorla). That's despite a bustling performance from Carroll, who caused plenty of trouble for the Arsenal defence. Let's hope he can stay fit!
The crucial point in the game was Nolan's woeful failure to get a shot off when clean through. I shan't complain about him blazing another effort over; that wasn't the easiest chance he'll ever get; but trying to turn inside Mertesacker was a horrible decision. He was, let's be fair, offside to start with, and there's no guarantee he would have scored. Had he done so, though, or had Carroll's header dropped inside the post, you couldn't have seen us failing to get at least a point.
In the first half we were very disciplined in defence, and I can't remember the Gunners having a particularly good chance, up to the point where they scored. Reid, like Demel, is proving to be a rock so far this season, Collins had a much better game than he's been having, and we looked a lot better on the left with George in for the awful O'Brien. The game was blessed with four cracking goals, the pick of which was Mo's, I thought - pace and place, belted into the corner from a very tight angle, excellent finish.
Ultimately, though, whilst I can argue that we earned a draw, I'm not so sure we deserved one. You have to concede that Arsenal were the better team overall, and whilst a two-goal margin seems a tad harsh, we can't really complain too much at the defeat. If we keep playing like that this season, mid-table respectability will be our lot with, maybe, a brief flirtation with 5th place. And who wouldn't have taken that at the start of the season!''
04:24AM 7th Oct 2012
''Vaz Te was rubbish and should have been subbed. Yossi should have come on instead of Taylor. Wwe didn't start with a belief that we could win. Noble was pants, just hope we can pull it off against Southampton.''
11:24PM 6th Oct 2012
''Deserved lead? I belive the possesion was around 75-25% in Arsenal's favour when the goal was scored. But still a great game and especially nervy for the Gunners. One of my games of the season. Regards, Icelandic Gunner.''