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Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United

Filed: Wednesday, 16th April 2014
By: Staff Writer

West Ham fell to an all-too-familiar defeat against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium tonight having failed to capitalise on an early advantage - again.

Prior to this evening the Hammers had taken the lead in their last three Premier League meetings with the Gunners - before going on to lose them all.

And so it was again in this latest encounter when Matt Jarvis' first half header was overturned by three goals for the home side, who showed few if any signs of the fatigue that Sam Allardyce had hoped would swing the game in his team's favour.

To his credit, Big Sam wasn't too wide of the mark - in the opening half, at least - when West Ham were more than a match for a team missing one or two key players and featuring several who played 120 minutes in Saturday's FA Cup semi final.

And his side were rewarded for their attacking intent when Jarvis scored the opening goal with a close range header after some good work on the right-hand side by Stewart Downing and Antonio Nocerino.

The former Wolves man - who was denied a cast-iron penalty by referee Kevin Friend earlier in the game when he opted to stay on his feet following a late challenge - scored after Nocerino's initial effort had been palmed away by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The Italian, who had been set up by a clever through ball from Downing was quickest to react and the rebound fell kindly for a lurking Jarvis to nod into an empty net from no more than three yards.

Crucially, West Ham's lead was to last just four minutes before Lukas Podolski equalised for Arsenal with little more than a minute of normal time left to play in the opening half.

An unsettled home crowd were already clearing their throats in preparation for the ensuing chorus of half time boos when the German international took advantage of a dreadful clearance by Downing to level the scores.

With more than a hint of Lionel Scaloni's FA Cup Final gaffe that allowed Liverpool to equalise in the final minute at Cardiff in 2006, the winger's hack away from the byeline was picked up 25 yards from goal by Santi Cazorla.

His clever pass found Podolski who turned sharly before firing across Adrian into the far corner - turning the impending jeers into cheers.

The second half began in a similar way to the first with West Ham firing off a couple of shots without seriously threatening the Arsenal goal. That was about as good as it got for Allardyce's men in the second half, as within ten minutes of the restart United were behind for the first time in the game.

The goal, ironically, was as route one as they come; a deep delivery into the six yard box somehow resulted in French striker Olivier Giroud shaking off both Winston Reid and Andy Carroll before drilling a shot low into Adrian's far post.

The execution was admirable, although questions will surely be asked about the defending once again.

It was a similar story when Arsenal put the game beyond reasonable doubt after Podolski grabbed his second of the night with 12 minutes remaining. A flowing move on the left side ended when the striker smashed substitute Ramsey's clever reverse header into the roof of Adrian's net.

Late cameos from the Cole twins and the returning Ricardo Vaz Te failed to make an impression and the Hammers were condemned to a second successive league defeat - still a win shy of being able to claim safety.

The next chance for Allardyce and his troops to rectify that comes this Saturday when a newly-resilient Crystal Palace visit the Boleyn Ground for a first top-flight meeting between the two clubs there since May 1998.

Palace, level on points with West Ham have a game in hand which comes against Everton at Goodison Park tomorrow night. Fatigue is unlikely to be an issue come Saturday.

West Ham Utd: Adrian, Reid, Tomkins, Jarvis, Armero, Carroll, Noble, Demel, Diame, Downing, Nocerino.

Subs: Jaaskelainen, Johnson, McCartney, Taylor, J.Cole, C.Cole

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Arteta, Rosicky, Kallstrom, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.

Subs: Fabianski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Akpom, Bellerin.

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