Hammers into Drop Zone as Arsenal Hit Back
By Tom Dowsett
Friday 27 Dec 2013 16:47:00
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Last season Arsenal came to Upton Park and had to come from behind to earn a 3-1 victory. On Boxing Day they managed to repeat that success, leaving West Ham United in the bottom three.

With four games in the space of ten days, Sam Allardyce is mindful that he will have to make full use of all the options available to him. As a result he made four changes from the team that played Manchester United at Old Trafford five days earlier. Club captain Kevin Nolan returned from his three-match suspension in place of Ravel Morrison who had picked up a groin injury in training, Joey O'Brien took the place of Guy Demel in defence, Joe Cole was preferred to Matthew Taylor in midfield and Carlton Cole came in for Modibo Maiga upfront as the manager continued to go with a lone striker.

In a frenetic opening ten minutes, the Hammers went close on a number of occasions. As early as the first minute, Matt Jarvis got in behind the defence but unfortunately his first touch let him down. The home side were proving a real handful for the Gunners' backline and Wojciech Szczęsny had to be alert to prevent West Ham from scoring.

With ten minutes gone the East Londoners won a freekick in a dangerous position on the corner of the box. Mark Noble forced the Polish goalkeeper into a smart save.

Six minutes later the visitors tested Adrian, who was making his home League debut and he was certainly up to the task, as he saved well from Santiago Cazorla.

The hosts pressurised the Gunners once again when Mohamed Diamé ran through the middle and his fierce shot was parried by Szczęsny before he was able to make an easy claim at the second attempt.

Arsene Wenger's men nearly grabbed the lead but Cazorla's effort from Mesut Özil's pass just cleared the crossbar.

On 37 minutes James Collins had to be replaced by Razvan Rat, as the Welsh international had picked up a calf injury and couldn't continue.

Referee Phil Dowd brought the half to a close with no change in the scoreline.

46 seconds into the second-half it was the hosts who opened the scoring when Carlton Cole benefited from Szczęsny spilling the skipper's tame effort and the striker was on hand to take full advantage.

The home side were now in the ascendency and chances continued to fall their way. Jarvis was next to have a go but Szczęsny was equal to it as he produced a superb diving save.

The Hammers missed a golden chance to go further in front when O'Brien connected with Diame's cross. The defender had the whole goal to aim at but he sent the effort wide when it would have been easier to score! Three minutes later, another chance went begging as Carlton Cole didn't connect properly with Rat's supberb precise cross.

On the hour mark, Adrian made a brilliant double save, first beating out Carzorla's well-struck volley, then blocking Ozil's follow up effort with his leg.

There was still time for West Ham to make the Pole work again before Allardyce decided to make a change, bringing on Demel for O'Brien.

Minutes later, as Arsenal were cranking up the pressure, the Hammers' resistance was broken when Theo Walcott's routine shot went through Adrian's hands for a disappointing equaliser.

Three further minutes had passed when Arsenal turned the game on its head and Walcott scored the first headed goal of his career.

Big Sam brought on his second substition of the afternoon as Taylor replaced Nolan but Arsenal were still in command and four minutes later made sure of the points with a third goal, as Lukaz Podolski linked up well with Oliver Giroud and the German slotted it inside the far post.

The North London side continued to dominate and after four minutes of stoppage time were played, they secured their place back at the top of the table whilst West Ham slipped into the drop zone.

Fortunately the Hammers don't have long to dwell on it, as their next game is the Saturday lunchtime kick-off when West Bromwich Albion arrive in East London.

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