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Wednesday, 24th April 2002

Arsenal 2
West Ham United 0

by Paul Reynolds

Never has the term 'Lucky Arsenal' been so true as tonight. West Ham lost 2-0 to the 'Champions in waiting' but at no stage of the game did they look inferior to Arsenal.

From early on West Ham soaked up anything Arsenal threw at them and then hit back. The better early chances went to the Hammers, most notably to Freddie Kanoute - on his return to the team after illness which kept him out of Saturday's win over Sunderland - whose thundering header went just wide of the post from a Sinclair cross early on.

Soon after, when it looked an odds on certainty for Freddie to open the scoring he toe-poked a chip over David Seaman's head, and, unfortunately over the bar as well.

Shortly after followed one of the worst decisions from a linesman this season. Freddie had the ball in the net after rounding Seaman only for Ashley Cole to dig the ball out from behind the line. It was in the goal at the far end from the West Ham fans, but from Freddie's response in reeling away and starting to celebrate a goal the West Ham fans went into raptures.

But just as on Saturday for Joe Cole's 'goal' it was not given, as the linesman ruled it had not crossed the line.

At half-time the West Ham fans were frantically ringing home and had it confirmed by those watching on TV that the ball had indeed crossed the line, and a valid goal had been ruled out.

Further bad news for West Ham when 'Archie' Schemmel was ruled out for the rest of the season as he was taken off after 17 minutes with what was later reported to be a broken leg. This led to the introduction of Vladimar Labant who proved that after been given the run around by Simon Davies was no fluke and he was again given the run around by both Bergkamp and Ljunberg much to the annoyance of the West Ham fans.

At half-time with the score at 0-0, Arsenal were probably relieved to reach the dressing room all square.

In the second half the home side came out firing on all cylinders, but it wasn't until the 77th minute that Freddie - this time Ljungberg - had the ball in the net to open the scoring for Arsenal. This seemed to take the stuffing out of the Hammers who had until then more than held their own.

Three minutes later Arsenal added a cruel second through Kanu.

The only memorable thing that happened in the last 10 minutes was the support that the away fans gave to the West Ham team who really deserved to get something out of the game.

At the end of the match Nigel Winterburn was the last player to leave the pitch to cheers from both sets of fans in what may prove to be his last competitive game at Highbury.

Player ratings:

David James (8) Is proving what a bargain buy he was for Roeder.

Sebastien Schemmel (7) Played his usual good game for the first 17 minutes; a sad way to end the season for the 'Player of the Year'.

Ian Pearce (8) Good game, and should be back to his best next season.

Tomas Repka (8) Solid, reliable - is coming to terms with the pace of English football.

Christian Dailly (8) Goes about his game with calm assurance.

Nigel Winterburn (9) Last game at Highbury? What a performance to go out on - Man of the Match.

Joe Cole (8) Never stopped running throughout the game.

Steve Lomas (7) Probably his poorest game since his return.

Michael Carrick (7) An excellent first half performance, but faded after the break.

Trevor Sinclair (7) Like Carric, a great first half but faded in the second half - and his mistake led to the second goal.

Frederic Kanoute (9) Ran his heart out up front alone. On another night could possibly have had a hat-trick.

Vladimir Labant (5) Given the run around again, is he the answer to the left back role?

Jermain Defoe (6) Not much to do while he was on.

KUMB Stats

West Ham United: James, Repka, Winterburn, Dailly, Sinclair, Lomas, Kanoute, Pearce, Carrick, Cole, Schemmel

Subs: Labant (Schemmel 17), Defoe (Kanoute 74), Garcia, Hislop, Potts

Arsenal: Seaman, Cole, Vieira, Keown, Adams, Ljungberg, Bergkamp, Lauren, Henry, Parlour, Edu

Subs: Kanu (Edu 63), Grimandi (Bergkamp 81), Dixon (Ljungberg 89), Wright, Jeffers

Goals: Ljungberg (76), Kanu (80)

Booked: Carrick (56), Edu (63), Vieira (88), Lomas (89)

Referee: S.Dunn

Attendance: 38,038

Man of the Match: Tomas Repka

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