Five Premier League games down today, one to go.
And, boy. it promises to be a doozy as Arsene Wenger reacquaints himself with his bête noire, Big Sam.
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West Ham 1-3 Arsenal
17.14 – Good evening, all! All but one of the six Premier League games scheduled for today have been played and now we turn our attentions to Upton Park, where Arsenal make the short visit to West Ham.
The early team news is that Andy Carroll is back in the Hammers’ starting line-up for the first time since picking up a hamstring injury on his debut in September. The striker, on loan from Liverpool, comes in for Carlton Cole.
For the Gunners, Per Mertesacker gets the nod.
17.17 – West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: ”He (Carroll) is biting at the bit. The way he performed against Fulham when he made his debut is why we chose him. If we can get him the right service we could cause them problems here. It’s a little harsh on Carlton Cole.
Arsenal are terrific at keeping of the ball so we’ll have to do that side of the game first. It’s our biggest game of the season and we’re in very good form today so hopefully we show what we can do.”
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, McCartney, Noble, Diame, Vaz Te, Nolan, Jarvis, Carroll. Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Cole, Maiga, Taylor, Benayoun, O’Neil.
Arsenal: Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Cazorla, Arteta, Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski. Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Arshavin.
17.27 – Teams emerge from the tunnel, ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’ ringing around… we’re just about ready to go here. It’s the first sell-out of the season for those who care.
17.32 – Arsenal, wearing their third choice yellow kit, kick off. West Hammer wearing their usual claret and blue.
17.34 – Olivier Giroud, still seeking his first Premier League goal since joining from Montpellier in the summer, has the first shot on target, which Jussi Jaaskelainen tips around the post.
He may not have any goals to his name, but he’s got plenty of admirers it seems…
17.39 – A well-worked move sees Arsenal break at pace. The ball is played wide left and gets cut back to Santi Cazorla, whose accurate effort is deflected behind.
The former Villarreal midfielder has been outstanding so far in his short Gunners career.
17.44 – The Hammers are under heavy pressure early on but do have an outlet in Carroll. Ricardo Vaz Te lumps it long and the 23-year-old blocks Mertesacker’s clearance (possibly with his arm) and lays off to his Portuguese team-mate.
I can see that being a common theme to West Ham’s play this evening.
17.51 – A series of Cazorla corners result in a second chance for Giroud after a scramble in the box. The Frenchman picks his spot but three defenders guard the line and Carroll heads clear.
17.53 – GOAL! West Ham 1-0 Arsenal (Mohamed Diame)
Incredible. Their first real chance sees the home side take a 1-0 lead. Receiving a pass from George McCartney, the midfielder skips past Aaron Ramsey and produces a finish past Vito Mannone that Thierry Henry would be proud of. That’s his first goal for the club since signing from Wigan.
18.03 – Since their dominance during the opening 20 minutes, Arsenal have clearly been rattled somewhat and are struggling to create now.
Mark Noble whips in a corner and Carroll gets above two defenders to head into the hands of Mannone. Seconds later, the ball is launced in once again and the forward crashes into the Italian goalkeeper.
18.06 – Here’s the goal which separates the sides:
YouTube credit: realgoalsvideo
18.09 – Phil Dowd flashes a yellow card at Winston Reid after the Kiwi defender collides with Cazorla. Extremely harsh and wonder whether it was to compensate not booking Diame, who already has a caution thanks to his goal celebrtaion, for his rash tackle on Mikel Arteta.
18.11 – GOAL! West Ham 1-1 Arsenal (Olivier Giroud)
He’s done it! It may have taken him seven games, but the man bought to replace Robin van Persie has scored his first Premier League goal for Arsenal. Podolski’s cross from the left is an inviting one and the 26-year-old makes contact with an outstretched leg to beat Jaaskelainen.
18.18 – Yellow card for Gervinho, who is late but doesn’t actually make contact with Noble. From the resulting free-kick, Carroll wins the knock-down but Kevin Nolan can’t direct his shot on goal and it goes agonisingly wide.
18.19 – Half-time: West Ham 1-1 Arsenal
18.25 – Watch Giroud’s equaliser. Gunners fans will hope it’s the first of many:
YouTube credit: Alban Maestro
18.33 – Teams back out, no changes on either side.
18.35 – Good chance for West Ham to put Mannone under pressure. He gets a good palm to it but it matters little as Dowd awards a free-kick against Arsenal.
18.42 – Lengthy spell of Arsenal possession around 35 yards out from the opposing goal. They eventually lose the ball and West Ham break.
Matt Jarvis sends a ball across but it’s cleared away. He could be key to Carroll getting on the scoresheet, you feel.
18.47 – Carroll flicks on a long throw-in and it drops to Jarvis. He blazes over, however.
Wenger has taken off Gibbs for Brazilian full-back Andre Santos.
18.50 – Mannone takes a trailing leg of Vaz Te to the head and the play is stop while he receives treatment.
Strangely, the West Ham striker has done himself more damage in the collision and it looks as though he will be replaced by Matt Taylor.
Theo Walcott is also on for Gervinho, who’s been pretty awful.
18.57 – Couple of decent chances to report. Giroud and Cazorla come close for Arsenal, as does Carroll down the other end.
19.00 – Big moment. Nolan breaks free but opts to cut inside Mertesacker and allows him to make a last-ditch challenge.
Suspected dislocated shoulder for Vaz Tez, accoring to ESPN. And the latest walking wounded Guy Demel is about to come off for James Tomkins.
19.06 – GOAL! West Ham 1-2 Arsenal (Theo Walcott)
A couple of minutes after West Ham are denied a possible penalty, Walcott takes a pass from Giroud and strokes it around the West Ham keeper for his fourth goal of the campaign.
19.08 – Kevin Nolan is unlikely to get a chance as good as that inthe remaining 11 minutes. The former Bolton midfielder skies over with his left foot from about 15 yards out.
19.10 – Mertesacker’s goalbound effort takes a nick and goes out for a corner, which West Ham deal with. Cartlon Cole is on in place of Diame for the closing minutes.
19.13 – GOAL! West Ham 1-3 Arsenal (Santi Cazorla)
What a strike to wrap up the three points for Arsenal. Cazorla takes a pass from Walcott and buries it in the top corner from 20 yards.
Podolski off, Koscielny on as Wenger looks to secure the win.
19.26 – Full-time: West Ham 1-3 Arsenal
19.39 – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: ”I’m very happy because it was a game played with a high tempo. They scored a great goal. From then on we could not concede a second one and had to get our game going and we did that in a convincing way.
On Walcott: “He has that (the goal) in him, I said that many times. One or two years ago he was not sure when he got in front of the keeper but now you are.”
On Cazorla: “Fantastic, he had an outstanding performance. If you love football just watch him play, he’s a joy to watch.”