Hammers Fire Blanks at Gunners Again!!!
By Tom Dowsett
Saturday 30 Oct 2010 21:36:00
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West Ham United turned in a gritty, but ultimately fruitless performance against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.

Avram Grant made two changes to the team that started against Newcastle United seven days earlier. Luis Boa Morte came in for Carlton Cole who dropped to the bench and Herita Ilunga replaced the injured Mathew Upson.

The visitors were not overawed by their illustrious opponents. They started brightly and supported their lone striker Frederic Piquionne well when the opportunities arose.

As early as the 9th minute, Piquionne was brought down on the edge of the box and Mark Noble's dangerous free-kick was punched away by Lukaz Fabianski.

Arsenal were applying considerable pressure but the Hammers' defence looked more assured than in recent games and the midfield were still capable of breaking quickly and causing Arsenal problems.

On several occasions Gunners' defender Laurent Koscielny had to resort to some robust challenges to prevent the Hammers from going ahead. From one such foul, Noble's free-kick forced another good save from the Arsenal keeper on 20 minutes.

Robert Green, who was making his 150th appearance for the Hammers, was also equal to everything that Arsenal could throw at him and Grant's men were good value for their half-time clean sheet.

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The second half started with Arsenal piling on the pressure and it took West Ham some time to regain a measure of control.

On 72 minutes, Piquionne, who was beginning to tire, was replaced by Carlton Cole.

Soon after, the travelling support thought they might have had a goal to celebrate as Manuel Da Costa rose to meet Noble's pecise corner but there was not enough power in his header to beat Fabianski.

Theo Walcott, who replaced Denilson on 67 minutes, was posing a lot of problems for the Hammers' defence. Green was relieved to see the striker's effort rebound back into his arms off the post.

Green continued to make save after save and the East Londoners looked as if they were going to take a well-earned point back with them, but it was not to be.

Julien Faubert was introduced for Victor Obinna with just three minutes of normal time remaining and it was his mistake that allowed Gael Clichy to cross for Alex Song to head home on 88 minutes to snatch all three points.

It was a tough day for the Hammers who discovered before the kick-off that they have a home tie against Manchester United in the Carling Cup Quarter Final.

Next up in the Premier League is a tricky looking trip to St Andrews to face Birmingham City next Saturday.

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