Santi Cazorla was the star turn as Arsenal came from behind to win easily at Upton Park
Welcome to a repeat of the 1980 FA Cup final. But Trevor Brooking's headed winner at Wembley only carries so much currency for the modern Hammer. And West Ham United's recent record against The Arsenal isn't much to shout about.
They've not beaten their big-city neighbours since 2007. Since then, Arsenal have won six league games and an FA Cup tie, and drawn the other two fixtures. Still, that 2006/07 season was something to remember for the Hammers, featuring their first league double over Arsenal since 1964/65: two 1-0 victories and one touchline brouhaha between a gloating Alan Pardew and a thoroughly piqued Arsene Wenger.
Whoever wins today, it'd be lovely to see another childish shoving match between two grown adults by the dugouts, especially as Wenger and Sam Allardyce have a history of mutual seething resentment which stretches back to the modern West Ham boss's days at Bolton Wanderers. Or, to say that again using the pious and wholly disingenuous language expected of football journalists by football fans, let's hope we don't see another childish shoving match between two grown adults by the dugouts!
With no love lost between clubs, fans and managers, this promises to be a cracker. Both teams have started the season solidly, West Ham especially, Allardyce's newly promoted side settling back into the Premier League with ease. This is their first match against one of the big guns, though, but at least they've timed it well, Arsenal coming off the back of a home defeat to Chelsea. So this could be nip and tuck. Gervinho is three goals from three shots, while Per Mertesacker is expected to return to shore up Arsenal's defence. But West Ham have only lost once in their last 16 league games, and they could throw Andy Carroll into the mix, a player who's caused the Gunners more than enough heartache in the past. It is on!
Kick off: 5.30pm.
West Ham United, who welcome back the big man: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, McCartney, Noble, Diame, Vaz Te, Nolan, Jarvis, Carroll.
Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Cole, Maiga, Taylor, Benayoun, O'Neil.
Arsenal, who recall Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud: Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Ramsey, Cazorla, Arteta, Gervinho, Giroud, Podolski.
Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Arshavin.
Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)
The teams are out! They trot onto the Boleyn Ground pitch, an event soundtracked by that version of I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles with the jaunty bassline that's somewhere between Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Rock DJ by Robbie Williams. I know. West Ham are dressed in their trademark claret and blue, Arsenal in their familiar yellow away shirts. As the managers enter the scene themselves, they shake hands warmly. There goes hopes of that touchline brouhaha!
A pre-match round of applause for the recently departed John Bond, who won the FA Cup as a player with West Ham United in 1964. Here's the great man in his pomp, taking over at Manchester City...
Save it for later, though, yes? You'll not concentrate on the football if you click on it now.
And we're off! Arsenal are on the front foot almost immediately. Podolski has a whack within 30 seconds, and then a minute or so later Giroud is fizzing a low, hard shot towards the bottom-right corner. Jaaskelainen is forced to get down and turn the ball around the post for a corner kick. The set piece is cleared upfield by Carroll. The Big Man's back.
3 min: West Ham are struggling to get the ball at present. Arsenal have turned up and they're swaggering about like a cut-price Barcelona. It's a very confident start. And it's already silenced the home crowd. Not totally, but the blistering volume at kick off has decreased somewhat.
6 min: Arsenal are pinging it around in the sweetest fashion. Podolski skips down the left and fires a low cross into the centre. Cazorla hammers a shot straight at goal. Jaaskelainen, wrong footed by the speed of Arsenal's football, appears to be diving out of the way, but Collins slides in to deflect the ball out brilliantly. The corner's a waste of time. "Just so you know, I don't think you're pious or disingenuous," writes Simon McMahon. "Even if I knew what they are. I'm reminded of an interview I once saw with the young Muhammad Ali being asked before a fight, 'You're being rather truculent, aren't you?' to which he replied immediately with a glint in his eye, 'If that's good, I'm that.'"
8 min: Big Sam's Soccer would be a crude and reductive way to describe this: a long hoof down the middle, with Carroll getting eyebrows on the ball, which flies through to Mannone. Not exactly an aesthete's dream, but it's the first time West Ham have shown up in Arsenal's half, so it's a start.
10 min: This is far prettier, though: Vaz Te looks to release Nolan down the inside-right channel with a cute back heel. It doesn't quite come off. It's almost as though Big Sam's teams aren't quite as one-dimensional as suggested by lazy journalis... ah hold on, Arsenal have had 73% possession so far.
12 min: A saucy sashay down the left by Ramsey, who tricks his way to the byline with a couple of adroit spins. He dinks a delicious ball into the middle, but there's nobody in yellow there. Lazy Arsenal team-mates, how could you!
15 min: West Ham simply can't get the ball, although at least Arsenal aren't doing much with it at present. "Is it my imagination or has Big Sam let the grass at Upton Park grow, John Beck style, to slow Arsenal's passing game?" wonders our very own Sean Ingle, who has obviously recently purchased a high-definition television set. I can't tell. But could he be so cynical? It's not doing West Ham much good, if he has. Maybe he needs to ramp it up with some other old-school Beck tactics. Maybe he should throw a cold bucket of water over Andy Carroll at half time. And before he goes out on the town in the evening, come to that.
17 min: Arsenal step it up a bit. Cazorla slides a ball down the inside-right channel for Jenkinson. Collins, not for the first time, slides in to deflect the resulting cutback away for a corner. From which Collins is forced to hack behind again. After a mild scramble, the ball finds the feet of Giroud. The French striker takes one touch and, from the edge of the area, looks for the top left corner. Carroll is on hand to head behind for a third corner. And the big man clears the resulting set piece! Carroll and Colllins have been throwing themselves into the line of fire with great regularity here. But West Ham can't keep on like this.
21 min: GOAL!!! West Ham United 1-0 Arsenal. So they decide to give it to Diame, and see what he can do instead. And what he can do is this: pick up the ball down the left with Jenkinson and Ramsey sandwiching him; slip the ball past Ramsey, leaving the two defenders in his wake with a deft on-a-sixpence turn inside; and curl a powerful shot into the top-right corner from a tightening angle! That is a simply amazing finish, a beautiful piece of skill - and, let's face it, somewhat against the run of play. Wow.
22 min: Diame is booked for celebrating his goal with the crowd. For the love of God, these diktats are wholly preposterous.
24 min: Arsenal don't know what's hit them. They've been on the front foot for the vast majority of this match, and find themselves trailing. This state of affairs has gone down well with the paying public; Upton Park really is bubbling now.
25 min: Arsenal ping it around awhile, and then Ramsey lashes a frustrated shot miles right of goal. Jaaskelainen waves it out of play. On the touchline, Arsene Wenger stands frowning, with both hands on his hips. This pose is semaphore for EFFING EFF.
28 min: Diame wants to watch himself. He's late on Arteta, who's sent spinning up into the air by a late challenge. That's a booking any day, and the goalscorer should be walking. Perhaps the referee Phil Dowd realises the celebration booking was a total nonsense, and that it's karmic payback time. Mertesacker certainly doesn't see it that way, and enters into a full and frank exchange of views with the whistler. As does Arsene Wenger on the touchline, his debating partner the fourth official. Grown men getting involved in this here.
31 min: Corner for West Ham, who have put a stop to Arsenal's gallop, down the right. It's sent into the middle of the Arsenal area. Carroll wins the header, and blasts a powerful effort towards the top right. Mannone claims.
32 min: Noble swings a cross into the area from the left. Carroll goes up for the header, and clatters Mannone to the floor. Free kick. Goalkeepers are over-protected, but that's a fair decision, Mannone - who is big and honest - taking a proper clatter to his jaw. No malice on Carroll's part, though. West Ham's early inferiority complex has totally evaporated. Arsenal aren't showing half the composure they were before the goal.
35 min: Arsenal pin West Ham back for the first time in a few minutes. Gibbs clips a cross in from the left. Mertesacker flicks it on, and Giroud is this close to connecting with his head, coming in at the far post. But not quite, and the ball flies out of play.
36 min: Reid is booked for running into Cazorla. That's a wee bit harsh, issued for nothing more than a coming together.
39 min: The passes aren't quite sticking for Arsenal now. Podolski is gifted possession in the middle of the West Ham half. He slides the ball down the left for Ramsey, who, forcing it somewhat, sprays a Hollywood Ball towards the right wing for Jenkinson. But it's well off target, heading towards Mexico, and a chance to advance on the Hammers area is spurned.
41 min: GOAL!!! West Ham United 1-1 Arsenal. Finally, joy for Olivier Giroud! He starts a move which sees Podolski skitter down the left. The German swings a ball towards the near post, allowing the Frenchman to slide in and guide an unstoppable shot into the bottom left. His drought is over! And on the balance of this half's play, that's the least Arsenal deserve.
43 min: The passes are sticking again for Arsenal. Funny thing, confidence, eh.
44 min: Jaaskelainen uses up a year and a day to take a goal kick. A strong suggestion that West Ham have decided to steady their ship and get in level at half time.
45 min: Corner for Arsenal down the left, Podolski and Cazorla having busied themselves. The ball's swung into the area, and headed out. Ramsey sends in a piledriver, but his effort is easily blocked and cleared. West Ham try to relieve the pressure with a sortie upfield. Noble looks to skip past Gervinho down the left, but is upended. Booking for the Arsenal player. There's just enough time for Noble to swing a free kick into the area from the left. From which ...
45 min +2: ... Carroll wins a header at the far post, sending the ball across the face of goal to the unmarked Nolan. Who somehow screws an awful effort well wide right. That could easily have been a second West Ham goal.
HALF TIME: West Ham United 1-1 Arsenal. The teams go in for their half-time buckets of ice-cold water. If Sam Allardyce really is doing the John Beck tribute-act thing Sean Ingle was suggesting earlier on.
HALF-TIME ENTERTAINMENT inspired by the management techniques of
Sam Allardyce John Beck:
Yet another example of Tiswas knocking Swap Shop into a hat which is cocked.
And we're off again! Yes we are, yes we are. No changes. West Ham get proceedings under way once more.
47 min: An early corner for West Ham, the ball clanking off Jenkinson's head from a throw. Noble hoicks the set piece into the six-yard box. Mannone slaps the ball away, and is upended for his trouble. Free kick.
49 min: Giroud tries to release Ramsey into the area with a reverse ball from a position down the right with his back to goal, but overcooks what would have been a very elaborate dink. "John Beck left Kettering Town last week," reports Richard Woods. "Today KTFC could only field 10 players, none of whom apparently have been paid. They lost 7-0 at home to Bashley and it looks like it might be the end for a great club. Sad times." Indeed. Wouldn't it be nice if the Premier League chucked them a few quid, seeing Kettering were at the forefront of shirt sponsorship, one of the fancy money-making ideas the big clubs benefit from today?
52 min: Good work from Jarvis down the left earns West Ham a corner. It's wasted, and Arsenal flood upfield through Cazorla and Podolski. The ball ends up at the feet of Gibbs, who with team-mates waiting in the middle, clanks a hopeless cross into the stand from the left.
55 min: Diame showcases his dancing feet all along the edge of the Arsenal D. He flicks a ball to Nolan into the area down the inside-left channel, but the midfielder's offside. In a subsequent melee, several players not hearing the whistle, Carroll manages to miss a gaping goal from six yards. It matters not, but still.
57 min: Gibbs is replaced by Andre Santos. Meanwhile anyone interested in John Beck's cold showers can bone up, as his players were perhaps unable to, from around the 2m30s mark here. Thanks again to a nostalgic Sean Ingle, who is perhaps pining for his early twenties tonight.
60 min: Vaz Te chases after a loose ball down the right. He clatters into Mannone, accidentally kicking the keeper in the head. Mannone, who gathers the ball, will be OK. But the West Ham striker looks in some pain, landing awkwardly. It looks as though he might have broken a wrist, writes Dr Murray the inept quack. Poor lad's jiggered his arm one way or the other, anyway, and he holds it gingerly as he is escorted off in very real pain.
63 min: A couple of changes. The departed Vaz Te is replaced by Taylor. Meanwhile Arsenal swap Gervinho for Walcott.
64 min: That wasn't the longest of injury stoppages, but long enough to take a bit of the sting out of this game. "Kettering Town ought to go and ask for a few bob from Uncle Peter Coates at Stoke," suggests Alec McAulay. "We will always be in their debt for the wonderful, wonderful John Ritchie."
65 min: A scramble in the West Ham area, instigated by a scuffed Podolski shot from the edge of the D. The ball hits Cazorla, then is backheeled towards the bottom-left corner by Walcott, a very clever idea. It's slightly off target, but Giroud chases the loose ball up. Jaaskelainen is covering the angle well, though, and Giroud can't convert a difficult chance.
67 min: Hoof! Carroll's under it, on the edge of the Arsenal box. He should score, having beaten the advancing Mannone to it, but can't get his header on target, looping it over the keeper and wide right of goal. He holds his head in his hands. Not a gilt-edged invitation to score, but a miss nonetheless.
68 min: Cazorla dances and diddles down the inside-right channel. Upon reaching the edge of the area, and with the West Ham defence in tatters, he shanks an awful effort wide right. "Does Sean Ingle have an Exchange bet on references in a 2012 MBM to John Beck and will he and Mrs Ingle be sunning themselves in a Harry-style Vegas Bungalow next weekend?" wonders Jason Frew, who is probably not too far from the truth. Say it ain't so, Seanie!
69 min: Nolan is sprung clear down the inside-right channel. He's offside, but not flagged, and free into the area! But he pauses, checks, faffs about, and fannies it. He doesn't even get a shot away. He had two team-mates in the centre, too! What a textbook example of ungrateful equine dentistry! Meanwhile here's news on Vaz Te: a dislocated right shoulder.
72 min: Ramsey goes down the left, then checks to enter the area. He's clipped on the back of the ankle by Taylor, and goes over. Arsenal scream for a penalty - but it's not given! If it makes Arsene Wenger, tapdancing in the irate style on the touchline, feel any better, the foul was just outside the area, so shouldn't have been a penalty. It's not going to make him feel any better, though, is it.
73 min: Tomkins replaces Demel.
76 min: GOAL!!! West Ham United 1-2 Arsenal. Arsenal, fuelled by injustice at not getting their penalty/free kick, force a couple of corners. Nothing doing. West Ham push upfield, but Diame loses the ball, and the Gunners come straight back at them. Giroud strokes a lovely sliderule pass down the inside right channel, splitting West Ham's defence in two. Walcott tears clear, reaches the edge of the area, and curls a delicious shout into the bottom right.
77 min: Walcott is booked for celebrating. A happiness infringement. For goodness sake, that football's come to this.
78 min: Jarvis, working in from the left, finds Nolan just inside the Arsenal box. He's got space, but with only Mannone to beat, balloons his shot over. That really should have been the equaliser.
81 min: Mertesacker turns on a sixpence in the West Ham area and hammers a first-time curler towards the bottom right. This is what German international defenders do. A fine effort, and one that's only just deflected away for a corner. Nothing comes from the set piece.
82 min: Diame is replaced by Carlton Cole, who only has eight minutes to score the sort of goal the man he's replacing managed in the first half. He's going to need more than eight minutes, isn't he.
83 min: GOAL!!! West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal. What a goal this is. Walcott bundles the ball in from the right. It breaks to Cazorla, 25 yards out, just to the left of goal. The Spanish international hammers a first-time blooter straight into the top right with his left peg. That is an immense finish. What a player. And what a performance by Arsenal, who thoroughly deserve to win this game.
84 min: Giroud tries to curl one into the top left from 30 yards. It's like this now.
85 min: Koscielny replaces Podolski.
87 min: Taylor is booked for a clumsy slide on Arteta. Andre Santos was involved in there too, three men clattering into each other with clumsiness very much the top note. "When have Arsenal last scored from a corner?" asks Lucian Stanescu, unhappy that Santi Cazorla hasn't also lassoed the moon. "I like them and would love them to keep on playing beautifully and winning, but their corners seems to never bring anything, do they?" No idea, I've not been paying attention. It's either last week, or sometime during March 1993. In fairness, it's not their signature move. And who scores from corners in modern professional football anyway?
90 min: Taylor has a whack from distance, forcing Mannone to scramble down at his left-hand post to save. The keeper was behind it all the way, and the loose ball is cleared.
90 min +1: There will be five added minutes. This is the first of them, and it nearly saw Arsenal's fourth goal. But Giroud, released into the area down the left by Cazorla, humps the ball straight at Jaaskelainen.
90 min +4: Cazorla's pass to release Giroud, by the way, was exquisite: a reverse ball, played diagonally along strict geometric lines, cutting out three defenders and landing right at the striker's feet. Giroud wants a skelp on the Aris for missing that, because there's a pass that deserved everything.
FULL TIME: West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal. And that's that. West Ham were outplayed and outclassed for most of that, Arsenal deserved victors. The Gunners leap above their hosts in the Premier League table, to fifth spot. But West Ham, still in eighth, can take heart from at least giving Arsene Wenger's side a scare, and a decent game in the first half. It was easy to forget they've just been promoted, which is to their credit. And credit to both managers, who didn't get involved in a pitchside riot, and shook hands warmly at the end. Still, Santi Cazorla, eh? Santi Cazorla!