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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
April 15, 2014
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: K. Friend
• Attendance: 59977
L. Podolski 44', 78'
O. Giroud 55'
West Ham United
M. Jarvis 40'
I'm Alex Moretto, and I'd like to thank you all for joining me here today! I hope you enjoyed the action. Until next time, good bye!
FULL-TIME: ARSENAL 3-1 WEST HAM. Well it was far from straightforward in the first half, but the Gunners eventually figured things out and picked up a vital three points against their London counterparts.
90' + 4'
Nonetheless, Kevin Friend sounds the full-time whistle and Arsenal leap info fourth place thanks to a brace from Lukas Podolski, and a sensational Olivier Giroud goal.
90' + 3'
UH OH! WORRYING MOMENTS FOR ARSENAL! Weger looks on worried as Olivier Giroud topples to ground, untouched, clutching his leg. The last thing Arsenal can afford is another injury. Play carries on without Giroud who finally pulls himself off the ground, but looks to be in obvious pain.
90' + 2'
Ramsey does such an excellent job of reading the game and getting into dangerous positions. This time he finds space and makes himself available for Jenkinson. He takes a pass a curls a shot at goal, but it's caught easily by Adrian.
An already sparse crowd at the Emirates has begun to thin out as they head for the exits with their heads held high. Four minutes of added time. Four minutes for Arsenal to hold on. Four minutes away from fourth place.
Arsenal look to wind out the final few minutes now as they make their second substitution. Santi Cazorla comes off to some mixed reactions from the Emirates faithful, while Carl Jenkinson comes on to help see this one out.
First touch, first chance for Carlton Cole! Nocerino bends in a free kick that Cole gets to ahead of Mertesacker, but his header in the end is poor as it sails high and wide.
Final substitution for West Ham, as Andy Carroll gives way for Carlton Cole. The towering striker was a powerful presence in the first half, but has failed to really trouble the Arsenal defenders after the break.
Four goals and four assists now for Podolski against West Ham. Great game for him after scoring just once in his previous 12 appearances.
The goal was followed by two West Ham substitutions as Joe Cole and Ricardo Vaz Te are brought on. Play resumes and it's Arsenal who are looking to have taken over. West Ham perhaps discouraged by the third Gunners' goal.
Ricardo Vaz Te
GOOOOOOOOOAL! Podolski surely seals it for Arsenal! Giroud crosses into the box, well behind Aaron Ramsey, who does a brilliant job of leaning back and heading a pass right onto the feet of Podolski who emphatically strikes it home. It took just five minutes for Ramsey to make his mark. What a brilliant assist that was.
Well there's the first counter from Arsenal! Vermaelen intercepts a pass and starts a break. Cazorla is forced to retreat, but they keep the ball and eventually get it to Ramsey at the top of the box. He has a go, but his effort sails over the bar.
West Ham with plenty of possession, but they're finding no way through. Arsenal back in numbers, hardly comfortable with this one goal advantage. They're playing for the counter attack, as West Ham are committing men forward in search of an equalizer.
There's the substitution they were waiting for. Rosicky is the one to give way for Ramsey, as he comes on to a loud applause from the home fans. He put in over 100 minutes on the weekend, so we'll see how fresh he really is.
Into the final 20 minutes now with changes looking imminent for Arsenal. Aaron Ramsey looks set to come on, with others warming up along the sidelines.
Fantastic defending by Matt Jarvis, who keeps up with Sagna stride for stride along the right, sliding in to block the cross. It bounces back off Sagna and behind for a goal kick.
Arsenal looking all the more lively as the game progresses, which you would have thought to be quite improbable after their physically and emotionally draining FA Cup semi-final victory on Saturday. How long can they keep this up, and will it be enough to see this one out?
WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE RUN FROM CAZORLA! The Spaniard streaks along the right in space, and cuts it into the center past Armero. He gets into a shooting position, but his effort curls just fractions wide of the post! Brilliant stuff from the midfielder. Adrian had no chance of stopping that, but it's just the wrong side of the post for Cazorla.
Yellow CardKim Källström
Kallstrom in the book now as he takes down Nocerino with a hard challenge. He came in late, but did get a slight touch of the ball which may have prevented him from getting a red.
PODOLSKI! The German strikes a blistering shot with his left foot, but Adrian anticipates it well, getting across with those strong hands to make the save.
Yellow CardMohamed Diame
Armero with a poor clearance forces Diame into a foul, giving Arsenal a free kick in a dangerous position here about 25 yards out!
STAT ATTACK: This is Olivier Giroud's first goal against West Ham this season, after registering three goals and an assist in Arsenal’s two victories over the Hammers last campaign.
GOOOOOOOAL! Arsenal in front! Diame can't clear well enough, giving it away to Vermaelen. The Belgian lofts it into the box for Giroud, who does incredibly well to shield off two defenders, while bringing it down with an impeccable first touch and slotting home. Great finish, but it was all made possible by a brilliant first touch.
VERMAELEN NEEDS TO DO BETTER THERE! Podolski lays off a pass to the left-back who gets into a great crossing position with options in the middle. He fails to pick out a good pass, and Tomkins puts it behind.
Close there for Carroll! Downing and Nocerino link up along the right, and the Italian passes it into the box for Carroll, who was caught off guard by the pass and just can't quite get on the end of it.
STAT ATTACK: Lukas Podolski now has three goals and four assists in four matches against West Ham.
How selfish from Downing! Guy Demel intercepts a pass and starts a West Ham counter. He passes off for Downing who has Diame wide open in the middle to cut it back, but opts to take on Arteta and have a shot. It rolls helplessly wide with the aid of a deflection, but it's ruled to be a goal kick.
Olivier Giroud and Kim Kallstrom get us underway in the second half. No changes to report at the break. Massive 45 minutes ahead for the Gunners. Can they get the victory they need to vault Everton into fourth place?
Arsene Wenger will have to be at least somewhat content with the fact that his team are level at the break, considering their performance in the opening 45 minutes. They're real problem has come in midfield where they are lacking in creativity and determination. It's unclear how fit Aaron Ramsey is, but he would undoubtedly help out as a substitute in the second half, as would Oxlade-Chamberlain.
STAT ATTACK: West Ham have dropped 17 points from winning positions this season. Only Southampton (18) have done worse.
HALF-TIME: ARSENAL 1-1 WEST HAM. The visitors came on strong in the early stages and made life difficult on the Gunners. They got the goal they deserved just past the 40 minute mark, but Arsenal found an equalizer minutes later to set us up for what should be a cracking second half at the Emirates.
45' + 2'
Kevin Friend blows his whistle and we've reached half-time in North London.
45' + 1'
Into the first of two minutes of injury time and Arsenal have sprung to life. After some very poor spells early on, they have a spring in their step. They will need to carry this with them through to the second half.
GOOOOOOOOOAAAL! It took just three and a half minutes for Arsenal to equalize! Downing gives the ball away poorly deep in his own half to Cazorla. The Spaniard picks out Podolski whose lovely first touch gives him a shooting chance and he makes no mistake with the left foot picking out the far corner. It's all level at the Emirates.
KALLSTROM! Well the West Ham opener looks to have woken Arsenal up. Giroud works a nice pass out to Kallstrom who has a go from close, but Adrian is there to palm it behind for a corner.
GOOOOOOOOAAAL! West Ham in front! Nocerino makes a great run along the right just inside the box. Szczesny saves, but it pops up for Jarvis who heads home unmarked, five yards from goal. Arsenal have their work cut out for them now!
Yellow CardAntonio Nocerino
Nocerino goes into the referee's book now, and he won't complain about that one. Smart tackle from the Italian who takes down Giroud to prevent an Arsenal counter, as they would have had West Ham outnumbered there in attack.
STAT ATTACK: West Ham’s last victory over Arsenal came in April of 2007, with Bobby Zamora’s lone goal securing a 1-0 triumph for the Hammers at the Emirates.
This has been a much better spell from Arsenal. They're keeping possession well and look to have completely put out the threat from West Ham for the time being. They aren't converting this possession into real chances at the moment, but they're being given very little space to work with.
Podolski makes a run on the left, cutting in towards the middle. He gets a lucky bounce back onto his feet but can't control it and West Ham clear. The visitors have so many men behind the ball when Arsenal are in possession. There's a reason they've kept 13 clean sheets this season, second only to Chelsea.
GIROUD! Cazorla picks out a the Frenchman with a wonderful ball. Giroud is behind the defence, and tries to stab the ball inside the far post with the outside of his foot, but Adrian dives to his right and pushes it aside. Great chance for Arsenal, but it did appear Giroud was a fraction offside, despite the non-call from the linesman.
Finally the Gunners work it forward and keep possession well in attack. Podolski tries to chip a ball in for Rosicky, but he can't win the ball. It falls near Giroud who lazily attempts to swing his foot at it which allows West Ham to clear.
Arsenal's biggest problem at the moment is their inability to pass it out of their half. They've tried to send long balls over the top, but no one is able to pick out a run at the moment. West Ham's throw in count has to be in double digits already, with the Gunners constantly passing it out of play.
Successive corners for West Ham now, as Arsenal have gone to sleep. Both are cleared by Koscielny, but the Gunners can't effectively relieve the pressure. Lazy start from Arsenal, as a worried Arsene Wenger looks on.
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal are on a four match winless run in the league for the first time since May 2012. The last time they went five league matches without a win (in the same season) was back in January/February of 2009, when they drew five straight.
Great defending by Vermaelen. Jarvis streaks down the left and crosses towards the far post for Carroll. Vermaelen beats the forward to the ball and makes a vital clearance. On the ensuing corner, Carroll cuts the ball back for Diame who mishits his shot, sending it well over the bar. West Ham looking the more likely team to find an opener so far.
Nearly a penalty for West Ham! Jarvis pokes the ball past Sagna, who clips the midfielder in an attempt to clear the ball. Jarvis doesn't make a mockery of it and go to ground, trying to keep running despite losing his footing just a bit. If he went to ground it very well could have been a penalty. Honorable stuff from the Hammers midfielder.
Yellow CardTomas Rosicky
Rosicky becomes the first player to find his name in Kevin Friend's book, as he's issued a yellow card for a poor tackle on Pablo Armero. Arsenal struggling to deal with the intensity and speed of West Ham in midfield at the moment.
GIROUD! Podolski makes a run along the left and sends a lovely ball across the face of goal. Giroud gets closest to it, but just fails to get a vital touch on it as it rolls to safety.
Following a West Ham free kick, Arsenal break on a counter. Rosicky streaks down the right, but fails to pick out Cazorla at the far post and the attack fizzles out. It's a poor run from the Spaniard, however, who hardly made it easy on Rosicky to pick out a pass.
Lively start from Diame who is causing Arsenal all sorts of problems early on. It was always going to be interesting to see how Arsenal responded following an emotionally draining semi-final win over Wigan on Saturday, and so far they look half-asleep.
NOCERINO! Sloppy, sloppy defending from Arsenal. Armero takes a throw in that falls for Diame unmarked inside the box. He slides it across the face of goal with Arsenal failing to attack the ball. It arrives at the feet of Nocerino at the far post but his shot is blocked by Koscielny who lunged across to sniff out the attack.
The first real chance of the match falls to Diame. The midfielder makes a wonderful run into the box, with just one more defender to beat, but smacks his shot into the back of Mertesacker who stood firm. Important block there from the German defender.
Arsenal apply some early pressure, winning a corner through Olivier Giroud. West Ham deal with it well, however, and the danger is averted.
West Ham kick off and we're underway, moving right to left, wearing their white shirts and blue shorts, with Arsenal in their red and white home kits - and it must be said, there are a lot of empty seats inside the Emirates this evening.
There is a moment of silence after the players take the pitch to honour the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy, which occured 25 years ago to the day.
STAT ATTACK: Arsenal have won seven straight matches against West Ham in all competitions, and are unbeaten in their last 12.
Sam Allardyce has to make do without injured captain Kevin Nolan, who is replaced in the starting XI by Antonio Nocerino. Marco Borriello and Joey O'Brien are also out.
WEST HAM SUBS: McCartney, Vaz Te, Taylor, Jaaskelainen, C. Cole, J. Cole, Johnson.
WEST HAM XI (4-5-1): Adrian; Demel, Reid, Tomkins, Armero; Downing, Diame, Nocerino, Noble, Jarvis; Carroll.
Laurent Koscielny returns to the team from injury, which is welcome news for Arsene Wenger and the Gunners. Lukas Podolski was a doubt with a leg injury, but has been deemed fit and is in the starting XI as well. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey start on the bench, with Wenger stating the duo have not been medically cleared to play 90 minutes today.
ARSENAL SUBS: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Fabianski, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Akpom, Bellerin.
ARSENAL XI (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen; Arteta, Rosicky; Kallstrom, Cazorla, Podolski; Giroud.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
Sam Allardyce may not be the most popular man in East London, but just a few short weeks after being booed by their own fans at Upton Park, West Ham look to have secured their spot in the Premier League for next season. Seven points and seven teams separate the Hammers from relegation, and with just five games remaining it would take nothing short of a major collapse for West Ham to find themselves in the bottom three come May 11.
Arsenal's 16-year streak of qualifying for Champions League is at risk of coming to an end this season. The Gunners currently sit two points back of Everton for fourth place with five games remaining, meaning Arsene Wenger's troops don't control their own fate. The Toffees have a tough schedule to close out the season, with matches still to come against both Manchester clubs and away to Southampton. Meanwhile, Arsenal play just one top half of the table team (Newcastle) in their five remaining fixtures. They will have to hope for Everton to slip up at least once, but they can do themselves a massive favour by winning out – and that starts here today against West Ham.
Good afternoon Premiership fans around the world, and welcome to today's match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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