Hammers waste a golden chance

Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0 BY DAVE EVANS AT THE EMIRATES IT IS not often you can come away from the Emirates and think that you should have got something from the match. This was one such occasion though and relegation-haunted West Ham blew it. They

Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0

BY DAVE EVANS AT THE EMIRATES

IT IS not often you can come away from the Emirates and think that you should have got something from the match.

This was one such occasion though and relegation-haunted West Ham blew it. They missed a penalty in the first half, they played against 10 men for the entire second half and still they could not break down the Arsenal defence.


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It was a game where manager Gianfranco Zola clearly thought there was not much chance of getting anything from the game. He rested Scott Parker - one yellow card away from a two-match ban - and left Carlton Cole and Benni McCarthy on the bench with Tuesday night's clash against Wolves very much in mind.

But those sentiments changed right on half time. Alessandro Diamanti launched a long ball forward towards Guillermo Franco and the Mexican was felled in the box by Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.

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Contact was minimal, but the linesman flagged for the penalty and Vermaelen was on the way back for the early bath.

However, just as the game seemed to be turning West Ham's way, the wind was taken out of their sails.

Diamanti stepped up looking to score his third goal against the Gunners this season, but this time Manuel Almunia was equal to the task and though the spot-kick was hit well, the keeper dived full length to make a brilliant save.

Arsenal had grabbed the lead as early as the sixth minute. West Ham had started the brighter and Mido had put in Franco for a chance that he failed to control.

But at the other end, Matty Upson's clearance went only as far as Denilson and when he played a clever one-two with Nicklas Bendtner it gave him the room to pick his spot in the corner from the edge of the box.

Arsenal played some silky stuff in that first half with Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue going close to stretching their lead, but the Hammers had their moments too as they played some promising football.

Diamanti's free kick dipped just over the bar and he then released Junior Stanislas down the right, only for the winger's cross to just evade Mido at the far post.

The second half promised so much for West Ham, but in the end delivered so little. They had so much of the possession, but in the end only, Fabio Daprela's storming run that could have won a penalty and Carlton Cole's snap shot that clipped the post came close to breaking the Arsenal defensive rearguard.

The Gunners were content to soak up the pressure and hit the Hammers on the break. Andrey Arshavin forced a good save from Robert Green on one break, but with eight minutes to go they finally secured all three points.

Cesc Fabregas tried to get past Upson in the box, only for his clever dink to hit the skipper's arm and give Arsenal a penalty.

Fabregas stepped up and sent Green the wrong way from the spot.

West Ham fans were probably not expecting much from this game, but in the end they will think that it was a huge opportunity missed.

Four defeats on the trot may well have hit the players' confidence, but they must find it again and quickly because this week's home games against Wolves and Stoke City may well decide their season.

West Ham: Green, Spector, Daprela, Upson, Tomkins, Diamanti, Kovac (Noble 70), Behrami, Stanislas, Mido (McCarthy 74), Franco (Cole 57).

Unused subs: Ilan, Ilunga, Stech, Spence.

Yellow cards: Diamanti, Kovac, Upson, Daprela.

Attendance: 60,077

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

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