Hammers End Year with Back to Back Defeats
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 29 Dec 2014 12:37:00
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West Ham United's Christmas schedule looked a tough one When the fixtures were released in the summer and with Chelsea and Arsenal in successive games, that is exactly what it proved to be, as the Hammers suffered their second straight defeat, thanks to a 2-1 reverse against Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.

Sam Allardyce made five changes to the team that played at Stamford Bridge just two days earlier. Joey O'Brien came in for Carl Jenkinson, who was unable to play due to the defender being on loan from the Gunners. Alex song, James Tomkins, Morgan Amalfitano and Diafra Sakho were all recalled in place of James Collins, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan and Enner Valencia. Song was handed the captaincy as he returned to the starting line-up.

The home side were desperate to make amends for their poor display on Boxing Day and came flying out of the blocks in this game. They did suffer a blow however, when Song fired them into a fifth minute lead but the officials had other ideas and ruled the effort out for offside. Replays showed that the goal should have stood, meaning the midfielder will have to try again to register his first goal for the club.

The hosts were pushing to try and find the net again but the Arsenal defence were in the way of everything they could throw at them.

On 38 minutes, Tomkins had a great chance to put the Irons ahead but rushed the effort and the chance went begging.

Two minutes later, Arsenal were given a penalty after Winston Reid brought down Santigo Cazorla. The Spaniard took responsibility himself and rolled the ball past his compatriot Adrian to put the visitors in front.

Just before the break, matters were made worse for the Hammers as Tomkins failed to deal with the threat of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the midfielder was able to roll the ball into the danger area for Danny Welbeck to tap it past Adrian.

The East Londoners had the chance to reduce the arrears but Stewart Downing shot wide after O'Brien had set him up perfectly.

Referee Neil Swarbrick's whistle was greeted with a crescendo of boos and a few obscenities as the teams headed down the tunnel.

The home side could have pulled one back just minutes into the second-half, but Per Mertesacker got in the way of Sakho's cross before it could reach Andy Carroll.

West Ham did get themselves back into the contest minutes later however, when Cheikou Kouyate found a way past Wojciech Szczęsny.

With Arsenal beginning to crank up the pressure, Big Sam made his first change bringing on Valencia for Sakho on 62 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was posing a threat to the Hammers defence but on 74 minutes, Adrian superbly saved his effort to prevent the scoreline from further increasing and he was called into action again on 76 minutes with another spectacular save from Alexis Sanchez.

Two minutes later, Allardyce made a double change as he brought on Nolan and Guy Demel for Kouyate and O'Brien.

After a Hammers' freekick was wasted minutes later, Arsenal launched a counter-attack but their progress was halted by Tomkins who received a booking for the offence, meaning he will now miss the New Year's Day home game against West Bromwich Albion.

West Ham went close to an equaliser in the closing stages of the game when Nolan had the goalkeeper scrambling but he managed to hold onto the ball.

Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled at the end of the game and although the hosts were still trying to level and Adrian went up to try and get his head to a couple of set-pieces, they couldn't rescue a point.

The final whistle was again met with considerable displeasure from the majority inside the ground but they won't have to wait too long to atone for this result, as they have the chance to do the double over the Baggies later this week.

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