Hammers Shot Down by Gunners
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 21 Mar 2010 13:54:00
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Well, a tricky trip to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday turned out to be just that.

West Ham United slumped to a fourth defeat in a row and the sort of statistic that fans would rather forget as it's now 16 games since they last won on the road.

Gianfranco Zola made four changes from the defeat to Chelsea. James Tompkins returned in place of Danny Gabbidon, Junior Stanislas came in for the injured Scott Parker, whist Ilan and Kieron Dyer were replaced by Alessandro Diamanti and Guilermo Franco.

If the plan was to contain Arsenal then it went to pieces after just five minutes when the customary slick Gunners' passing put Denilson through to slot past Robert Green.

To be fair, the Hammers held their nerve and might have equalised soon after when a superb ball from Diamanti found Stanislas in space, who in turn delivered a teasing cross behind the defender that Mido just failed to make contact with.

Referee Martin Atkinson tried to help the Hammers' cause by awarding them a disputed penalty and dismissing Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen just before half-time. West Ham, whose official website this week reported that they have scored every penalty awarded this season, duly missed it!

Mannuel Almunia produced a brilliant save from Diamanti but was well off his line.

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Although reduced to ten men, Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure in the second half and West Ham's slow build up play rarely threatened the home defence.

Carlton Cole come on to replace Franco early in the second half. More changes followed: Mark Noble for Radoslav Kovac; Benni McCarthy for Mido.

United struggled to make their extra man advantage count but Cole did fashion a chance from nowhere on 78 minutes beating Almunia, only to see his effort strike the post.

Five minutes later Arsene Wenger's side made the game safe when Atkinson awarded another penalty for Matthew Upson's hand ball. Fabregas made no mistake with his kick and the game was now well beyond the visitors.

Attention now turns to Tuesday night's must-win home game against Wolves, who moved a point and a place above the Hammers after their surprise 2-2 draw at Villa Park.

  

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