A missed spot-kick came back to haunt West Ham United at ten-man Arsenal on
West Ham United head back to the Boleyn Ground this week for two vital home
matches knowing they need a speedy return to winning ways after a 2-0 defeat
For the second successive Saturday, Gianfranco Zola's men lost out to London
rivals heading to the top of the Barclays Premier League. Denilson scored as
early as the fifth minute and a missed Alessandro Diamanti penalty just
before half-time suggested it was not going to be the visitors' day, even
though Thomas Vermaelen was sent off in the process. Cesc Fabregas's late
second proved the cruel, killer blow.
Zola had made four changes to his starting lineup from that defeated 4-1 at
Chelsea last time out, with Scott Parker the most notable absentee. There
was also a switch to 4-4-2 with Junior Stanislas and Diamanti earning
starting berths in the wide positions at the expense of Ilan and Kieron
The back four was unchanged save for James Tomkins replacing Danny Gabbidon
and the Hammers rearguard's first real test saw Arsenal put the ball in the
back of the net. Mattthew Upson had done well to clear a ball forward but a
bit of fortune saw the clearance eventually teed up for Denilson to power
into the corner from 15 yards.
Diamanti was given a chance to level matters three minutes later with a
free-kick 20 yards out in a central position but his effort was to clear the
bar with Manuel Almunia mildly concerned. Denilson could have doubled his
and Arsenal's tally on ten minutes after incisive play through midfield but
the chance went begging.
That move characterised much of Arsenal's play but as the half wore on, the
Hammers began to find their stride and started to string a pass or two
together themselves. That was summed up best when Diamanti played in
Stanislas down the right wing. His cross was deep to the far post but it
just eluded the on-rushing Mido.
A quick exchange of yellow cards preceded a thrilling end to the first half.
Diamanti was cautioned first for a clumsy foul before Sol Campbell was lucky
only to see yellow for a late tackle on Stanislas. The Hammers youngster's
next involvement was a tame shot at the other end before a quick counter saw
Clichy find Fabregas who nearly supplied Samir Nasri just in front of goal.
Tomkins then produced a terrific block to deny Fabregas a clear opportunity
from eight yards. That was not to be the last of the action though,
Vermaelen seeing red for tugging back Guille Franco after he had got
goalside of the Belgian defender. Diamanti stepped up looking to convert
from the spot but Almunia dived to his left to save.
There was still time for Kovac to pick up a caution for simulation before
Martin Atkinson blew for half-time, with the home fans finally finding their
voice to let the referee know what they thought of the dismissal. West Ham
were lively in the second half's opening stages, with Fabio Daprela
especially showing ambition with a driving run that took him as far as the
Both sides made early changes with Carlton Cole on for Franco and Abou Diaby
entering for Nicklas Bendtner. The yellow cards continued to come as freely
as the driving rain with Upson notably booked for a foul on Emmanuel Eboue.
Arsenal were still the most likely though with Fabregas and Nasri keeping
the visitors on the toes with their precise passing.
Stanislas and Mido combined midway through the half but again the final shot
was not forthcoming. There was one from Diamanti a minute later though but
Song deflected it wide for a corner. Noble entered the fray for the final 20
minutes for Radoslav Kovac, just before Green produced a smart stop to save
a Campbell header.
Benni McCarthy was the Hammers' final change for Mido as Zola went for broke
in the closing stages. The South Africa striker quickly connected with a
header from Jonathan Spector's right-wing cross but could not direct it on
target. Arshavin then had a go at the other end but never troubled Green.
It was end to end stuff and only the width of a post denied Cole after he
cut inside and fired low to Almunia's right. The Hammers were to pay for
that profligacy when Upson instinctively handled after Diamanti had conceded
possession and Fabregas stepped up and stroked the ball into the net.
Thankfully, the referee resisted Arsenal calls for a second yellow and the
Some half-hearted half-chances followed at both ends after that, but in
truth, Hammers hopes were by now focused on the Tuesday visit of
Wolverhampton Wanderers and the Saturday showdown with Stoke City. Zola will
hope it is a case of home sweet home in east London after two disappointing
awaydays in the capital.
Fabio Daprela is ready for Wolverhampton Wanderers after making an
encouraging start to his career
As Barclays Premier League introductions go, Fabio Daprela has surely
enjoyed a tougher start to his top-flight career than any other player.
After making his league debut for West Ham United at Chelsea last weekend,
the Switzerland Under-19 left-back kept his place for Saturday's trip to
Arsenal - the same club he made his first-team bow against in the FA Cup
back in January. While the Hammers have fallen to defeats on all three
occasions, the teenager - signed from Zurich's Grasshopper-Club in his
homeland last summer - has caught the eye with his tenacious tackling and
willingness to run with the ball. One such run ended in what Daprela
believes should have been a second penalty for West Ham at the Emirates
Stadium - following the spot-kick awarded when Guille Franco was impeded by
Thomas Vermaelen. "I was running through and I was caught by Alex Song. He
didn't get the ball and he touched my ankle. I will look again at the video,
but I think yes, it was a penalty."
Unfortunately, referee Martin Atkinson thought otherwise and, with goals
from Denilson and Cesc Fabregas coming either side of Alessandro Diamanti's
missed spot-kick and Vermaelen's sending-off, West Ham fell to a 2-0 defeat.
With the Gunners down to ten men a minute before half-time, Daprela felt
Gianfranco Zola's side could, and perhaps should, have got at least a point
from their trip to north London. "It was nice to play in the Emirates
Stadium against Arsenal, that was great, but the result was not so good. I
think we should have passed the ball more when we were playing against ten
players. We didn't do that, and Arsenal played well with ten men. "I think
when we got the penalty, if we had scored, it would have transformed the
game. It would have been possible for us to win the game. With a player
more, we planned at half-time to pass the ball and we thought we could still
win, but they kept the ball well and made it very difficult for us. "It's
been a great experience. It's nice to play against the big teams - Arsenal,
Chelsea and then Arsenal again. I think I have done myself justice, but I
can do better."
Having faced two of the so-called 'Big Four' on his first two league
appearances, Daprela faces an arguably bigger test when Wolverhampton
Wanderers come to the Boleyn Ground on Tuesday evening. West Ham go into the
game a point behind Mick McCarthy's side, and three points above 18th-placed
Burnley. As such, a win would provide a huge boost to confidence, as well as
three vital points. "It's very, very important that we win. Now we must get
three points. We have to win. We are good as a team and we are confident
ahead of these games with Wolves and Stoke, but it's very important that we
now win these games. "It's also very important that the fans are behind us.
If they can make a great noise then they can make it very difficult for
Wolves and easier for us to win."
Reserves look for revenge
Jordan Brown could get another chance to impress away to Arsenal on Monday
Alex Dyer's reserves will look to succeed on Monday night where the first
team came up short when they travel to Arsenal. The Barclays Premier Reserve
League South encounter at Barnet's Underhill home will also give Dyer's side
the chance to make up for a 4-2 home defeat by the Gunners back in January,
when a Sol Campbell-inspired second string proved too strong at the Boleyn
Ground. Having achieved a 2-1 triumph against Chelsea in their last outing,
the Hammers are in good shape. Dyer could give a chance to some of the
club's brightest prospects including Under-18 full-backs Jordan Brown
(pictured) and Filip Modelski, with both tipped for bright futures after
impressing for the Academy in recent months. Left-back Brown, 18, has
captained Tony Carr's side regularly this season and played twice under Dyer
while Modelski, still only 17, has established himself as Poland's
first-choice right-back at U18 level, although has not figured in the
reserves yet. Kick-off is at 7pm and whufc.com will have full text
commentary as always, with action and reaction to follow on WHUTV.
Manager on Monday
Scott Parker and Carlton Cole are among the manager's thoughts for Tuesday's
major meeting with Wolves
Gianfranco Zola has again been putting his men through their paces ahead of
Tuesday night's showdown with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Boleyn Ground.
The squad had reported for training early on Sunday eager to focus fully on
what was required in the week ahead. The sunny skies over Chadwell Heath
were hardly noticed as the players considered the importance of good
preparation. The manager is set to have a number of players back in
contention for the potentially-decisive Wolves fixture - one of five home
matches in the final eight games - including Scott Parker and Carlton Cole.
Parker was absent as a precaution from Saturday's defeat at Arsenal while
Cole had a late cameo. The 2-0 reverse at the Emirates was a frustrating one
for the manager after his team had offered much in the first half and, but
for a saved Alessandro Diamanti penalty, would have gone in at the break
level-pegging with a man advantage. Zola was looking ahead rather than back
though on Monday. "We have two very important home games against
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Stoke City [on Saturday] and I am confident we
can get two good results. We know they will both be difficult matches but
they are teams on our level and we must take heart from our performance
against Arsenal. "The first half at the Emirates Stadium was an indication
of how we can compete with the best but we will have to produce a
performance like that over 90 minutes if we are to be successful."
One player deserving of special mention was striker Mido, who the manager
believed was getting stronger and stronger. "His attitude has been brilliant
and that is the reason why he is playing. He has been working hard."
Returning to reflect on the game as a whole, he concluded: "It was not to be
against Arsenal and it feels like a missed opportunity - especially after a
first half which was probably our brightest of the season against a team
who, along with Barcelona, are playing the best football in Europe."
As well as Parker and Cole, Zola is assessing Julien Faubert, Herita Ilunga,
Danny Gabbidon, Kieron Dyer, Jack Collison, Mark Noble and Benni McCarthy.
The latter duo both appeared off the bench on Saturday and would seem the
most likely to force their way into the starting lineup while Manuel da
Costa will serve the last match of his three-game ban. "I am very confident
and we have a lot of players coming back to fitness in the squad," Zola
added. "I know my players are determined to do well and show their ability.
"They know it will be a big crowd on Tuesday and will be up for the battle.
It will be a challenge from the first whistle and we will be doing our best.
The fan backing will be massively important for us. "Make no mistake, I am
not pleased at all to see us in this position.In these moments though, we
have to keep our composure. We need to do the right things at the right time
and not get too emotional. Otherwise you cannot improve the situation.
"After the weekend, the table hasn't changed too much which is a good thing.
However, I am only thinking about my team and what we have to do. Everything
is up to us and I will take a lot of positives into Tuesday night."
Arsenal 2 - 0 West Ham
By Mark Ashenden
Arsenal survived defender Thomas Vermaelen's first-half sending off to beat
West Ham and climb to the top of the Premier League table. Denilson put the
Gunners ahead on four minutes after Nicklas Bendtner's pass. Vermaelen saw
red just before the break for bringing down Guillermo Franco, but Alessandro
Diamanti saw his spot-kick well saved by Manuel Almunia. West Ham
substitute Carlton Cole hit a post, before Cesc Fabregas scored a penalty
after a Matthew Upson handball. A second period of hard graft and three
points at the Emirates ensured a sixth successive league win and, with
Manchester United and Chelsea both playing on Sunday, guaranteed the Gunners
top spot for at least 24 hours. For their London opponents, though, the
struggle for Premier League survival shows no sign of receding with
Gianfranco Zola's side now without a point in four matches and hovering
perilously three points above the drop zone. After hearing they had been
drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League midweek, the Arsenal boss
Arsene Wenger remarked that "your next game makes your life". And with a
six-year gap since becoming champions in England, Arsenal looked in no mood
to take anybody lightly at the start of Saturday's tea-time clash and were
celebrating the opening goal on just four minutes. Denilson played a one-two
with Bendtner and although there was a hint of a use of arm when getting
past Valon Behrami, the Brazilian was soon dancing the samba after striking
the ball low into the net for his sixth of the season. West Ham, looking for
a first win on their travels since the opening day of the campaign, were not
totally devoid of attacking ideas despite missing their injured skipper
Italian Diamanti fired a free-kick over the bar, while Mido, starting up
front in place of Cole, slid in at the back post and narrowly missed out on
converting a devilishly low cross from the recalled Junior Stanislas. The
hosts were playing their typically free-flowing game and Samir Nasri and
skipper Fabregas, back from injury, both wasted good chances inside the box.
However, within one minute of the break, the script for Wenger's high-fliers
took an unexpected turn for the worse when they were reduced to 10 men.
After a long punt into the box from Diamanti, Franco clashed with Vermaelen
and referee Martin Atkinson was soon reaching for the red card after getting
the nod from his assistant.
Boos turned to loud cheers inside the stadium when Almunia dived left to
keep out Diamanti's kick and preserve their lead, but it did not discourage
Wenger from expressing his opinion to the man in black as the teams walked
off at half-time. Despite their numerical inferiority, Arsenal continued to
press forward as the effervescent Emmanuel Eboue curled a fine cross for
Andrei Arshavin to nod over. As the rain dumped on to the Emirates pitch,
Wenger opted to sacrifice his attacking options and bring on Abou Diaby for
the impressive Bendtner, while Zola, desperate for an equaliser, introduced
Cole for Franco. Arsenal remained comfortable in possession and Fabregas
delivered a pin-point free-kick towards the charging Sol Campbell but the
veteran defender could only parry the ball back to Rob Green with his
Striker Cole came within a few inches of an equaliser after blasting a
20-yard shot against the left post, but with five minutes remaining the
points were made safe with another penalty. Fabregas burst into the box and
as the ball bobbled up against Upson's arm, referee Atkinson pointed to the
spot for a decision that few contested. The Spaniard showed no nerves as he
struck the ball past Green to cap a magnificent display.
Arsenal 2 West Ham Utd 0
Filed: Saturday, 20th March 2010
By: Staff Writer
West Ham slumped ever closer to the relegation zone after going down to a
goal at either end of the game at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon.
Despite having held out little hope of getting a result in a fixture that
has been more profitable than many others of late Gianfranco Zola's side
were in with a shout until a late contentious Arsenal penalty secured all
three points for the title-chasing Gunners.
For the third game in succession the Irons found themselves behind early on
after Brazilian midfielder Denilson put the home side ahead after just five
minutes of play; United failing to learn their lesson from the games again
Bolton (two down after 11 minutes) and, more recently, Chelsea ( behind in
the 16th minute).
But in the final minute of the half, Zola's charges were given a great
opportunity to restore parity when Gullermo Franco was adjudged to have been
sent tumbling inside the box by Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen. TV replays
confirmed that the penalty decision was soft as there didn't appear to be
too much contact - the red card flashed at the Belgian defender being an
added kick in the teeth.
Alessandro Diamanti, who prior to the game had converted all four spot kicks
this season struck his effort well enough but into the same corner as his
previous efforts. Gunners 'keeper Manuel Almunia has clearly done his
homework and dived the right way whilst diverting the crestfallen Italian's
effort to safety.
West Ham's record against ten men this season is far from impressive and
thus it was again, as they struggled to make the extra man advantage count.
The second half introduction of Carlton Cole and Benni McCarthy gave United
some added impetus - Cole going closest to erasing the home side's slender
lead when grazing the post late on with a well-struck effort from the edge
of the box - but once again they failed to break down a resolute defence.
With time rapidly running out Arsenal secured all three points when Matthew
Upson was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the penalty area after it
was aimed at him from no more than a yard away. The fact that it would have
been impossible for Upson to remove his arm from the ball's path was lost on
referee Martin Atkinson who duly awarded his second controversial spot kick
of the day, which was duly converted by Cesc Fabregas much to the relief of
a nrevous home crowd.
The only bright spot on another dour day for the Hammers was defeats for
both Burnley and Hull, who remain three points adrift of Zola's side (who
have one game in hand on Hull and two on Burnley). Next up for West Ham is a
huge game against a resurgent Wolves, who climbed above United by virtue of
a battling point at neighbours Aston Villa.
Hammers want Becks signature
Gold keen on England midfielder
Last updated: 21st March 2010
West Ham co-owner David Gold wants to launch an ambitious attempt to lure
star midfielder David Beckham to the club. Gold believes Beckham - currently
recuperating from a ruptured Achilles tendon - would be interested in a move
that would mark a return to his London roots. The 34-year-old was born in
Leytonstone, East London and Gold says a switch would give the former
Manchester United man the opportunity to act as an "ambassador" for the
club. Gianfranco Zola's side are currently battling to beat the Premier
League drop, however their owner reckons the club could offer an end to his
seven-year absence from the top-flight of English football. Beckham is
contracted to LA Galaxy but has spent time on loan with Serie A outfit AC
Milan in a bid to force his way into the England squad for the World Cup
finals in South Africa. The tendon injury sustained while on duty with the
Italian side has sidelined the former Three Lions skipper for several
months, ending his World Cup dreams - although Gold wants to be in the
running to snare his signature should Beckham consider a return England. The
former Birmingham chief told the News of the World: "David keeps on showing
he still has so much to offer and if he's available then we want to be
bidding. "It's not only a case of what he can do on the pitch but what he
does off it - he'd be a sensational ambassador for his home-town club.
"He's a local boy like the two owners and this could appeal to him. "It's
not fanciful as he has so much to offer. His arrival would be massive."
Zola unhappy with Hammers
West Ham fall to defeat against 10-man Gunners
Last updated: 20th March 2010
Gianfranco Zola admitted West Ham failed to make their numerical advantage
count after going down 2-0 to 10-man Arsenal. The Gunners had to play the
entire second half with a depleted side after Thomas Vermaelen was dismissed
for bringing down Guillermo Franco in the box. Alessandro Diamanti saw his
penalty saved by Manuel Almunia as the visitors missed the chance to draw
level following Denilson's early opener for the hosts. Cesc Fabregas then
converted from the spot seven minutes from time after Matthew Upson was
penalised for handball, with Zola less-than impressed by the way his troops
approached the second period. "I am disappointed, especially after the first
half when I thought that we were playing the best game of the season," he
said. "The key was to keep the discipline because you have the extra man and
I told them to keep it simple, to move the ball around until we have two
versus one. "We did it for the first five minutes of the second half, but
then lost it. We wanted to sort the game out as individuals. You can't think
like that. "With Arsenal, you can expect it will be difficult, even if they
are one man down. "Scoring the penalty would have been a big help because
Arsenal would have played different football. "But they just sat back and
played the counter-attack. We just did not use the extra man."
Wolves, a point ahead of the Hammers, come to Upton Park on Tuesday night,
before they host Stoke. Zola said: "Our next two games will tell us a lot,
especially the next one when we are playing against a team who are more or
less in the same position as us. It will be massive. "The players did not
look like they had lost confidence, they were playing against one of the
best teams in Europe and played some good football. "We will go into the
Wolves game in good shape."
Cesc fires Gunners to summit
Hammers unable to stop 10-man Arsenal
Last updated: 20th March 2010
Goal of the match: Denilson's opener had it all: some crisp passing in the
midfield, a neat set-up from Bendtner and a cool finish from the Brazilian.
Save of the match: Manuel Almunia's penalty save denied Alessandro Diamanti
just before half-time and ensured that Thomas Vermaelen's sending off
wouldn't prove costly.
Talking point: Was it a penalty in the first place, and just how much will
Vermaelen's absence hurt Arsenal as he serves a suspension?
Cesc Fabregas fired 10-man Arsenal to the top of the Premier League as they
showed great resilience to overcome West Ham at Emirates Stadium. Arsene
Wenger's men took an early lead against their London rivals as some weak
defending from Gianfranco Zola's men allowed Nicklas Bendtner to set up
Denilson to drive home a sweet low strike from the edge of the box. The
visitors were handed a route back into the encounter just before the break
when Thomas Vermaelen was harshly dismissed by referee Martin Atkinson on
the advice of his assistant after bringing down Guillermo Franco in the box.
But Manuel Almunia produced an excellent save to deny Alessando Diamanti
from the penalty spot, although the save did little to appease Wenger, who
vented his anger towards Atkinson at half-time. Arsenal held firm in the
second period and climbed back to the summit of the table after being
awarded a penalty of their own, as Matthew Upson handled Fabregas' flick on
the edge of the area. The Arsenal captain, back in the side after his
hamstring injury, stepped up to take the responsibility himself and made no
mistake as he crashed a powerful effort beyond Robert Green. The Gunners
could, of course, fall back down to third place should both United and
Chelsea win on Sunday, but after another brave display, Wenger's youngsters
remain very much in the hunt for a first title since the 'Invincibles'
campaign of 2003/04.
Arsenal swept into the lead when Denilson won the ball from Valon Behrami on
the edge of the West Ham box, before playing a neat one-two with Bendtner
and firing home.
West Ham were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out when
Sol Campbell bundled over Franco. Diamanti's effort was well struck, but
flew over. The Hammers, who are hovering just above the relegation zone,
produced a decent response to their early setback. Junior Stanislas got away
down the right, and his cross was almost met by Mido at the far post.
Fabregas and Bendtner combined to release Emmanuel Eboue into the right side
of the box, and his angled drive was just too far ahead of Andrey Arshavin,
sliding in at the far post. Arsenal were reduced to 10 men a minute before
the break when Vermaelen was, on the advice of the assistant, adjudged to
have pulled down Franco as they chased a long ball into the box - and deemed
the last man by Atkinson who, from 20 yards away, went to his back pocket
for the red card. Wenger was fuming - but will feel justice was done when
Almunia made a brilliant save down to his left to keep out Diamanti's
spot-kick. Song dropped back into the centre of defence, as Arsenal
regrouped for the second half with Bendtner deployed as a lone striker,
which limited Arsenal's attacking options.
West Ham, though, failed to make the most of their extra possession.
Matthew Upson, the former Arsenal defender, was cautioned for tripping Eboue
to concede a free-kick 25 yards out on the right. Fabregas curled his effort
around the wall, but wide. Arsenal suddenly found another gear, lifted by
the Emirates Stadium faithful as Samir Nasri flashed a low ball across the
face of goal from the right. West Ham were still a danger, though, as
Diamanti's drive was deflected behind for a corner. Campbell forced a good
save from Green when he met Fabregas' free-kick, before Nasri was replaced
by Bacary Sagna as Eboue went onto the right wing, while West Ham sent
striker Benni McCarthy on for Mido. Arshavin's drive was well held by Green
on what was now a skiddy surface, before Cole cut inside and drilled a low
shot onto the outside of the far post. Arsenal secured themselves a two-goal
cushion and some much-needed breathing space after Upson's handball with
seven minutes left, as Fabregas made no mistake from the penalty spot as the
Gunners recorded a sixth successive league victory.
Vinny's Arsenal Report
Vinny - Sun Mar 21 2010
West Ham Online
Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0
A fourth straight defeat saw West Ham beaten by an Arsenal side who were
down to ten men for over 45 minutes with goals from Denilson and a penalty
from Cecs Fabregas securing a victory for the home side.
I come away from this game feeling very low. I know I shouldn't feel too
much negativity given that we all expected to lose the game and I wasn't
going into the match thinking we were going to somehow come away with the
win but I can't help but feeling totally pissed off.
Maybe I am pissed off because I feel pissed off. Maybe despite a number of
years following the club (not as many as some) I still haven't learnt.
Something about this game got to me and I can't quite put my finger on it.
I don't go into games against the bigger clubs thinking we are going to blow
them away but I always have a certain confidence because at the end of the
day we are playing a club in the same division and anything can happen. It
is probably at this stage where I fall down and think silly thoughts such as
top flight football is an even game.
The penalty incident just before half time was the main talking point. If
Alessandro Diamanti had scored the game would have been totally different
and it would not have seemed as though I had come down with a bad case of
tourretts with foul language being thrown at everything Italian I could
possibly think of.
A fourth straight defeats leaves us in 17th place with relegation still a
big possibility and my faith in our manager who just doesn't seem to have a
clue what he is doing does not fill me with too much confidence.
Zola of course made a number of changes to the side who were crushed at
Stamford Bridge last weekend.
In the defensive positions there was one change with James Tomkins coming
back into the side in place of Danny Gabbidon. This was a typical Zola
decision as he had dropped Tomkins after a bad game against Bolton, then as
Gabbidon has a nightmare Tomkins is back in the side. It just seems to me
Zola really doesn't know what he is doing half the time as he attempts to
make something work.
In midfield Scott Parker was apparently injured and he was replaced by
Alessandro Diamanti. This saw the Italian go to the right wing this week.
Kieron Dyer was dropped and was replaced by Junior Stanislas who started on
the left wing. This saw Behrami and Kovac in the middle.
Up front Ilan was dropped to the bench and replaced by Guillermo Franco who
started alongside Mido with top scorer Carlton Cole remaining on the bench.
On the bench alongside Cole was Benni McCarthy who is another player not
deemed fit enough to start. Mark Noble was back in the squad also and there
was a place for youngster Jordan Spence also. Jack Collison was missing
It didn't take Arsenal long to get themselves in front and give the
impression early on that we were going to be in for a long afternoon.
With only four minutes on the clock midfielder Denilson exchanged passes
with Bendtner and the Brazilian (despite the ball striking his arm) hit an
excellent low show shot which gave Green no chance given how accurate the
shot actually was.
As the Arsenal fans celebrated the West Ham supporters looked on as they had
witnessed the worst possible start. It seemed to be the general feeling that
we had to keep it tight early on so to lose that goal so early out of
seemingly nothing was another kick to a team who are low on confidence
We didn't get the Arsenal backlash I was expecting although a decent effort
from Bendtner went just wide of Green's goal soon after.
We had not got ourselves together and our only outlet appeared to be playing
the ball out to Stanislas to run at their defenders but this often came to
Our first chance of the game came from a dead ball situation as the referee
Martin Atkinson awarded us a free kick around 25 yards out. Stepping up to
take it of course was Diamanti but his central shot although clearing the
wall went just over Almunia's goal.
There were moments where Arsenal really turned on the style and a wonderful
passing move nearly resulted in Denilson being played in but the ball just
evaded him as Arsenal showed how good a team they can be when they get
It did seem that we had a chance on the counter attack and if our final pass
was good enough we could do something to hurt the home side. But far to
often that final ball was very poor and very frustrating to watch.
At one point a good counter attacking move saw Diamanti played in but
instead of hitting it with his right foot he waited and he waited until
there was no opportunity for a pass or shot and the ball was eventually
lost. This was frustrating given that Diamanti was actually in their area at
With half time fast approaching the game took a complete turn. A long punt
forward saw Franco challenge with Vermaelen with the Mexican striker getting
the better of his marker and bursting into the area only to be bundled over.
The ref pointed to the spot and showed the red card to Vermaelen for a
professional foul. Replays suggest that there was minimal contact but for me
Franco was knocked off balance and the penalty was rightly given.
So up would step Alessandro Diamanti to get us back into the game. The
Italian is yet to miss a penalty for the club since signing and there seems
to have been a number of them during the campaign which have been converted
by him. But not this time with his shot saved by Almunia to the despair of
the travelling West Ham supporters.
Players missing penalties is always something that angers me but I am not
one of those people who believes in how good or bad a penalty is taken. A
good penalty is surely one that goes in? If the keeper guesses the wrong way
then Diamanti scores.
As the ref blew for half time I felt my frustration levels rise to new
heights. This has been a shitty season and seems to not be showing any signs
of picking up. We simply had to come out in the second half and attack them.
With the extra man this was a perfect chance for us to get something and I
wanted to see us go into ultra attacking mode.
Zola had other ideas thinking that because of the extra man the team that
was already out there would be good enough to hurt Arsenal which the opening
stages of the half showed that we simply could not.
The only thing of note in the opening stages of the second half was a strong
run from left back Fabio Daprela who burst into the area only to be
Carlton Cole was introduced for the ineffective Franco as we desperately
looked to get back into the game. But it wasn't as though chances were
flowing and I kept thinking that the team most likely to get the next goal
wouldn't be us.
Arsenal were close to doubling their lead when a Fabregas free kick was met
the head of veteran defender Sol Campbell but his attempted was saved low by
Despite the numerical advantage Arsenal always looked comfortable in
posesssion with our players suffering from a lack of composure where it
mattered the most.
Carlton Cole very nearly grabbed the equaliser when he controlled the ball,
beat his man and hit a low left foot shot which crashed off the post.
But with just over five minutes remaining the game was effectively over when
Matthew Upson was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the area and the
ref did not hesitate in pointing to the spot.
Stepping up to take the penalty was Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas who unlike
Diamanti made no mistake with his spot kick sending Green the wrong was and
sending West Ham home with nothing yet again.
The pressure is firmly on Tuesday nights encounter with Wolverhampton
Wanderers as we look to lift ourselves away from trouble. Four defeats in a
row is not good enough at any level despite who you may be playing. We had a
chance of taking something from this game and we did not take it.
Most of the saves he needed to make were run of the mill and there were no
heroics of 2006/07 season. There was little he could do with the first goal
given the accuracy of the shot.
Unfortunately Spector was a complete shower of shit who has really struggled
since moving to his more favoured position of right back. He was given a
very tough time by Arshavin and looked out of his depth for most of the
Not exactly a leader of men is he? He doesn't give off much of a captain
vibe as you rarely see him go up to his team mates and give them some words
of encouragement. Gave away a penalty which ended any chance of us getting
anything out of the game.
A better performance than one would have expected given his recent form
(although he should never have been dropped for Gabbidon). Found it
difficult at times but gave as good as he got and made one really excellent
block in the first half from a Arshavin shot.
Unlike some of our players he doesn't look out of his depth. He has come in
and played against some very tough opposition but acquitted himself well as
he did this game with the good tackles and strong running forward.
Off the pace, not quick enough when on the ball and seemed to slow all our
counter attacking play down. Some of his passing was abysmal and the penalty
was not much different. He is not a midfielder. He wasn't signed to play in
midfield. He is a forward who should be played much higher up the pitch
because the ease in which he gives the ball away costs us.
It's not that Kovac did too many things wrong it was more the case that he
didn't do anything at all. He was a passenger caught ball watching on far
too many occasions. He couldn't get into the game as it all seemed to pass
Never one to not work hard on and off the ball but there was little quality
in his play and our midfield two were easily trampled on throughout the
Started the game well enough with some attacking running at the Arsenal
defence but as the game wore on Stanislas disappeared and you could have
easily forgotten that he was on the pitch. He continued to find it a
difficult task to beat his man and whip in a cross with his left foot.
People may point out that he is a right footer but that begs the question
why he plays on the left.
That's two games in a row he has started and it really puzzles me to how
this has happened. He just doesn't do enough and although he is working hard
and never deserves the lazy tag previously associated with him I just feel
he never looks like a goal threat at any point.
He won the penalty but that was about his only positive contribution. Has
not scored since 28th November.
Carlton Cole (on for Franco 57 mins)
Was far too eager to get on the ball and this often led to him making a foul
or losing the ball too easily. But he is our only goal threat and should
have started the game. He is our best striker, one of our best players and
if he is anything over 50% fit he should always start. Hit the post with a
really good effort and if he isn't starting on Tuesday night something is
Mark Noble (on for Kovac 75 mins)
He did well enough when he came on and it was good to see him back. Having
been out of the team for a while it is time for his introduction back to the
starting line up.
Benni McCarthy (on for Mido 75 mins)
Another player who you would think should be starting. He is obviously fit
enough to be on the bench so it is time to play him with Cole in what is
surely our best strike force? He did little when he came on apart from one
header which went wide.
Subs Not Used: Stech, Spence, Ilan, Ilunga
Bookings: Upson, Daprela, Kovac, Diamanti
Man Of The Match: Fabio Daprela
We expected to lose to Chelsea and Arsenal so I have to accept that my
criticisms might be a little harsh given the quality of the sides we have
been playing. I feel as if the task has been made more difficult by some
poor tactical decisions and a sense that the manager doesn't really have a
plan more so a hope that some luck will be found in his team selection.
Playing both Stanislas and Diamanti in the midfield left us open and Arsenal
were able to slice through our midfield. The front two were inept and
neither had any chances on goal or even looked as though they were going to
make something happen.
The form of Hull City and Burnley seems to be our saving grace and I still
would expect both of those sides to go down. I still think we will pick up a
few wins before the season is out and this has to start on Tuesday.
Next Game - Wolverhampton Wanderers (h)
Zola has put pressure on the players by harping on about the games at Upton
Park as being the ones we must win. He has been saying this for the past few
weeks which has now made the game against Wolves arguably the biggest of the
Anything other than a win is a disaster and time is really starting to run
out if we are to secure our premiership status for another seasons.
A lost away at Arsenal should be deemed as a terrible and shocking result
but anyone who has watched this match will have been very disappointed at
the manner in which we fizzled out and offered so little in the way of
getting back into the game.
Zola has set himself up on Tuesday and a win has to come because I don't
think I can listen to his excuses any more.
"I am disappointed,"
"Especially after the first half when I thought we were playing our best
game of the season. After the first 45 minutes, I was expecting more in the
second half. The key was to keep the discipline when you have an extra man.
"I told them to keep it simple and to move the ball right to left until we
found a place in the middle or a situation where we had two versus one in
specific areas of the pitch. We did it for the first five minutes and then
we lost our way.
"We wanted to sort the game out as individuals and that was the difference.
You can't think like that. The first half was an unbelievable team
performance with very good quality. The second half was like that only for
five minutes and then we lost it. With Arsenal you can expect it is
difficult even when they are one man down."
"The penalty would have been a big help of course. In that case Arsenal
would have played different football in the second half. Instead because
they had the advantage they sat back and played on the counterattack. We
didn't use the extra man properly."
"The next two games will tell us a lot for the rest of the season. Against
Arsenal, it didn't seem that we had lost confidence. They played against one
of the best teams in Europe and in my opinion played good football. We are
going to get to the Wolves game in good shape. We are playing against a team
that is more or less on the same position as us. It will be massive."
"In the last few weeks, Carlton hasn't been training very well. It was wise
not to play him. Like Scott Parker who felt tightness in his muscles, it
would have been silly to consider playing him 90 minutes today and 90
minutes on Tuesday. So that is the reason why we decided to go for Mido and
Franco - and they played a very good game in the first half. With and
without the ball they were excellent."
Arsenal for once happy to win ugly after Thomas Verlaelen's dismissal
Those renowned for their beauty tend to hide indoors when suffering a tick
or acne and there have been times when Arsenal seemed to be the sort of team
that would rather not be exposed to the glare of the spotlight that
accompanies success unless their achievements were aesthetically pleasing.
However, just as Cesc Fàbregas was prepared to play with a beard grown to
disguise evidence of a neck infection, at present Arsenal mind little how
prettily they might win the title.
Down to ten men for a little more than half the game and with the lumbering
Sol Campbell and inexperienced Alexandre Song in central defence once Thomas
Vermaelen had been dismissed, Arsène Wenger's team had to be prepared to be
pragmatic. It would be stretching it to state that Arsenal hoofed their way
to victory but they did graft.
Arsenal are becoming adept at ignoring snide remarks. A side that collapse
in adversity? A side that can be physically intimidated? A team ill equipped
to last the pace of a tough title race?
"If you had listened to the predictions then we should not have even
bothered starting the championship and we would have paid not to go down,"
The manager likes to emphasise how young his players are, as if he, too,
cannot believe how they have adapted this season. It sounded like an excuse
before, that silverware was doubly difficult for the less experienced to
chase. Now, though, it sounds more like a dig at the ageing team at Stamford
Bridge. Arsenal have the energy and the fearlessness of youth rather than
the recklessness of it.
Arsenal had taken the lead long before Vermaelen was punished for nudging
over Guillermo Franco. After a neat interchange of passes with Nicklas
Bendtner in the fifth minute, Denilson fired a shot of impressive precision
past Robert Green. The Brazil midfield player spoilt the moment with an
overly rehearsed, gyrating celebration but the goal appeared to herald a
Instead, West Ham United were allowed some possession and, gratified, they
were sprightly and optimistic. That sunny disposition evaporated when
Alessandro Diamanti fluffed his penalty kick, allowing Manuel Almunia to be
afforded rare hero status for the ensuing save. The half-time whistle then
blew, which gave Gianfranco Zola the chance to reignite his players'
self-belief and for five minutes they scampered happily about. Curiously,
they failed to maintain the pressure.
"I think we lost our composure," Zola, the West Ham manager, said. "We did
very well for the first five minutes and moved the ball around. We became
impatient. We lost the shape and energy."
Quite how a team can lose interest when they are so close to the relegation
zone is a question that has to trouble Zola. West Ham simply do not play
like a team in danger. This is partly because they have several players of a
mid-table calibre, partly because they indulge in flair and partly because
they probably do not believe relegation is realistic.
There are worse teams than West Ham in the Premier League. But tomorrow they
face Wolverhampton Wanderers at Upton Park. This will be a fascinating
contest, not least because Mick McCarthy, the Wolves manager, decided many
months ago that his team needed fully to comprehend and accept that they
were in a relegation battle. Against Arsenal, there were few clues that West
Ham have adopted the same tack.
"You are playing against ten men, you are playing very well and you are
playing at Arsenal; you get excited," Zola said. "You want to sort out
situations on your own. That was the difference. When you are 11 versus ten,
you have to use the whole team. You have to use the superiority in areas
they cannot get to quickly."
There is no doubt Arsenal will miss Vermaelen when they play Birmingham City
at St Andrew's on Saturday, but there is a faint whiff of defiance about the
club, a sense that obstacles can be fun.
"If we want to have a future then we have to show mental quality and not
give up, no matter what happens," Wenger said. In fact, the event that his
players had most trouble handling was the draw for the Champions League
quarter-finals the previous day. The knowledge that Arsenal had been paired
with Barcelona was a distraction, according to Wenger.
"There is a lot of time to think about Barcelona," Fàbregas, the Arsenal
captain, said. "Our first priority is Birmingham and that is the sign of
champions, taking things game by game."
Fàbregas drew the handball — it looked as if the Spaniard was deliberately
tempting Matthew Upson to handle — that gave Arsenal a penalty. The
spot-kick by Fàbregas was as composed as Diamanti's had been nervy and the
home fans, delighted by the palpable sense that their team were winning the
battle, sang that they only had ten men. It was a necessary reminder because
West Ham had clearly forgotten. Arsenal wasted time on occasion and looked
for free kicks, classic weapons when a man down.
"They tried to use all their experience and that is a sign that Arsenal are
becoming very mature," Zola said of such antics. "Arsenal, along with
Barcelona, are the team who are playing the best football in Europe
probably. They are very good to watch. Whether they are going to be able to
do that until the end, I don't know. That is the question that everybody is
But they are not asking that at the Emirates Stadium, they are wondering,
instead, just how close are they to lifting a trophy.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): M Almunia 7 E Eboué 6 S Campbell 5 T Vermaelen 5 G Clichy
5 Denilson 7 A Song 8 S Nasri 5 F Fàbregas 7 A Arshavin 5 N Bendtner 6.
Substitutes: A Diaby 5 (for Bendtner, 58min), B Sagna (for Nasri, 74),
Eduardo da Silva (for Arshavin, 84). Not used: L Fabianski, M Silvestre, T
Walcott, T Rosicky. Next: Birmingham City (a).
West Ham (4-4-1-1): R Green 5 J Spector 6 J Tomkins 6 M Upson 5 F Daprela 5
A Diamanti 6 V Behrami 5 R Kovac 5 J Stanislas 5 Mido 5 G Franco 4.
Substitutes: C Cole 6 (for Franco, 57min), M Noble 5 (for Kovac, 70), B
McCarthy (for Mido, 75). Not used: M Stech, J Spence, H Ilunga, Ilan. Next:
Wolverhampton Wanderers (h).
Referee: M Atkinson. Attendance: 60,077
Zola admits: 'Arsenal are better than Chelsea'
Published 23:00 21/03/10 By John Cross
West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola paid Arsenal the ultimate tribute after
claiming they are a better footballing team than his beloved Chelsea.
Chelsea legend Zola says Arsenal are even on a par with their Champions
League quarter final opponents Barcelona as the best team in Europe. Zola
said: "When we played Chelsea last week they probably didn't play with the
same quality or intensity as Arsenal. Arsenal are terrible, if you leave
them a little bit of space because they punish you. "Arsenal, along with
Barcelona, are the team who are playing the best football in Europe
probably. They are very good to watch. "Whether they are going to be able to
do that until the end I don't know. That is the question that everybody is
asking. "Arsenal played some good football but there were some moments when
we matched them completely. Arsenal and Chelsea are both good teams and they
will be in contention until the end that is for sure."
West Ham now face a huge test against fellow strugglers Wolves tomorrow
night and Egyptian striker Mido insisted it is a must-win game after getting
a vote of confidence from Zola. Former Tottenham striker Mido looked a
heavyweight Premier League striker at the Emirates for all of the wrong
reasons but he was still a thorn in Arsenal's side. Mido said: "The Wolves
match is a six-pointer. It is a very, very important game. It's a shame we
ended up losing to Arsenal as if we had scored the penalty, it would have
changed the game. But I still think Arsenal are a class act."
Zola added: "Mido gets better and better. We didn't have many opportunities
but he worked his socks off. "Okay, I am not going to feed him tomorrow! I
have asked him the same question but his body weight is the same as a few
years ago. "To be honest, his attitude has been brilliant. And that is the
reason why he is playing. He came here and he has been working hard and is
gaining his place here. "We looked very good in the first half so hopefully
we are going to be doing that for 90 minutes against Wolves on Tuesday."
Transfer gossip: West Ham set sights on Beckham
Published 12:34 21/03/10 By MirrorFootball
West Ham want to bring David Beckham back to England, according to reports
in the Sunday papers. The England star, currently recovering from the
Achilles tendon operation which will rule him out of this summer's World
Cup, is expected to return in around six months' time. It was thought he'd
make his comeback in the USA with LA Galaxy, but the East London outfit
would love the opportunity to persuade him to return to the Premier League.
New Upton Park owners David Sullivan and David Gold are desperate to
establish the Hammers as a Premier League force and they would views the
arrival of the global superstar as a major coup.
BECKS CAN STRIKE GOLD AT WEST HAM
Co-owner dreams of star's arrival
News OF The World
By Hugh Southon, 20/03/2010
WEST HAM co-owner David Gold wants to bring David Beckham back to the east
end. And he remains confident he will offer him Premier League football.
Leytonstone-born Becks, currently recovering from a ruptured Achilles
tendon, is expected to be fit within four months. And should he consider a
return to England, the new Hammers owners want to find room for him at Upton
Park. Gold said: "David keeps on showing he still has so much to offer and
if he's available then we want to be bidding. "It's not only a case of what
he can do on the pitch but what he does off it - he'd be a sensational
ambassador for his home-town club. "He's a local boy like the two owners and
this could appeal to him. "It's not fanciful as he has so much to offer. His
arrival would be massive." Gold, meanwhile, has finally agreed terms of the
pay-off for defender Calum Davenport and said: "This shows we are a club
that honours contracts to the letter. "It's terribly sad that this has
happened to the lad but occasionally life can throw such stuff at you and
its horrible. "This decision wipes the slate clean and allows him to get on
with his life again and everybody at the club wishes him well."
BILIC TOPS WEST HAM'S WANTED LIST
Croatian is favourite for Upton Park job
News Of Thw World
By Rob Shepherd, 20/03/2010
SLAVEN BILIC has emerged as the favourite to become West Ham's next manager.
Even if the Hammers avoid relegation it seems certain Gianfranco Zola will
not remain in charge come the summer. Zola is well aware his position has
been under constant review since owners David Sullivan and David Gold took
over in January. And former Hammers star Bilic is top of the list to replace
Zola. Mark Hughes would be the first choice of the new West Ham regime but
the former Manchester City boss believes he will be in the running for a
bigger club this summer. Another manager who features on the West Ham short
list is former England boss Steve McClaren. Sullivan and Gold have been
impressed how well he has rehabilitated himself in Holland with FC Twente,
who are on the verge of clinching the Dutch title. But McClaren has
expressed a desire to continue his coaching career on the continent, which
leaves the way clear for Bilic. He was a strong contender to replace Alan
Curbishley 18 months ago but the club could not strike a deal which would
have allowed Bilic to complete his commitment with the Croatia national
team. Bilic has indicated he is now ready to go into club management either
in England or Germany. West Ham would have an obvious appeal given he had a
short but successful stint at the club from 1996-97. Although he only has a
brief track record in club management at Hadjuk Split, his tough guy
personality would suit the demands of the club's new hierarchy. The club's
owners feel the team will eventually need a more experienced boss than
managerial novice Zola, who is on a £ 1.9million deal. The owners regard
relegation as "unthinkable".
But I understand they feel the best policy is to remain loyal to Zola for
the time being. Any managerial change at this stage of the season would
represent too much of a gamble and could backfire. But there is no doubt
come the end of the season there is set to be change, with Bilic now the
I am running the BUPA 10k on May 31st and raising money for the Bobby Moore
Please donate generously! Thanks.