|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Andy Carroll inspires West Ham with hat-trick in 3-3 thriller with Arsenal
Jacob Steinberg at Upton Park
Date Published Saturday 9 April 2016 14.51 BST
The harsh reality confronting Arsčne Wenger is that his team’s self-destructive tendencies have flared up on too many occasions this season, leaving them desperately hanging on to Leicester City’s coattails instead of closing the gap on the leaders, and Arsenal’s chances of winning their first title since 2004 are all but over because of their maddening capacity to bewitch and infuriate their manager in equal measure. After dropping two more points against a demented West Ham United, they are relying on a Devon Loch collapse from Leicester in their final six matches.
Given that Arsenal threatened to humiliate West Ham for much of the first half, it beggared belief that Wenger later found himself criticising his players for failing to play with enough urgency after Alexis Sánchez doubled their lead 10 minutes before half-time.
Unable to deal with Andy Carroll’s aerial might, they allowed the West Ham striker to score his first hat-trick since August 2010 and although Laurent Koscielny salvaged a point, Arsenal were once again let down by their lack of focus and ruthlessness. Champions win these games.
There was warm applause at the end of a pulsating 3-3 draw that ultimately did little for either side. Arsenal will fall 13 points behind Leicester if Claudio Ranieri’s side beat Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, while West Ham needed a win to keep up with the Manchester clubs in the race for Champions League qualification. “This is a blow,” Slaven Bilic said.
West Ham’s manager was infuriated that Manuel Lanzini’s header was incorrectly ruled out for offside when the game was goalless but Bilic preferred to talk about the game instead of the officials. He praised West Ham for a spectacular performance, even though the afternoon began with such promise for Arsenal.
They have played with greater fluency since adding the flair of Alex Iwobi to their attack. For a player who only came into the starting XI last month, the 19-year-old Nigeria forward has shown a startling lack of fear in all of his appearances, creating the goals that allowed Arsenal to cruise into a 2-0 lead, carving West Ham’s back three apart with a couple of splendid assists for Mesut Özil and Sánchez.
West Ham used the 3-4-2-1 system that worked so effectively in their win over Tottenham last month but they looked vulnerable whenever their midfield was bypassed. Arsenal flowed forward on the break repeatedly and made the breakthrough when Iwobi found Özil in the area with an incisive pass. Played onside by Angelo Ogbonna, the German’s finish was cool.
Iwobi was outstanding in the first half and his assist for Sánchez’s goal was even better, a scoop over the West Ham defence for the Chile forward, who rolled the ball past Adrián.
For all Arsenal’s dominance, though, there had already been a hint of the defensive deficiencies that Carroll would exploit in an electric spell either side of half-time. Özil’s opener came four minutes after Lanzini’s header was incorrectly ruled out for offside, with replays suggesting that the Argentinian midfielder had been played onside by Héctor Bellerín. West Ham would later have another goal chalked off, although they could not complain when Dimitri Payet’s goal was chalked off for Carroll’s blatant foul on Koscielny.
One of the more impressive features of this West Ham side has been their ability to regain their composure in difficult moments, however, and they demonstrated by their powers of recovery by hauling themselves level shortly before half-time.
They had barely threatened before Carroll attacked Aaron Cresswell’s cross from the left brilliantly, thudding a header low to David Ospina’s left, and the roof nearly flew off Upton Park when the striker equalised in stoppage time. Mark Noble chipped a cross in from the right and although Carroll’s first effort was blocked, he adjusted superbly to hook an acrobatic volley past Ospina.
Carroll, starting for the first time in the league since 12 December, was in the side after Diafra Sakho was omitted from the squad altogether. Bilic claimed that Sakho was carrying a minor injury.
However Carroll would never have had the chance to torment Arsenal if he had been punished more severely for a wild challenge on Koscielny. Arsenal also seethed when he appeared to catch Gabriel Paulista with an elbow.
The referee, Craig Pawson, settled for giving a yellow card for the tackle on Koscielny and Carroll completed his hat-trick when he met Michail Antonio’s cross from the right with an unstoppable header at the far post in the 52nd minute.
West Ham were more solid when Bilic switched to a back four at half-time, taking off James Tomkins and moving Antonio to right-back, but they could not hold on. Although Lanzini denied Nacho Monreal with a goalline clearance, Koscielny crashed the ball high past Adrián after Danny Welbeck miscontrolled Özil’s cross in the 70th minute.
Both sides had chances to win it. If this was the end of their faltering title hopes, at least Arsenal will never forget their final visit to Upton Park.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
West Ham (3-4-2-1): Adrian 5; Tomkins 5.5 (Emenike HT, 6), Reid 7, Ogbonna 6.5; Antonio 6, Kouyate 6.5, Noble 7.5, Cresswell 7; Payet 6.5, Lanzini 6.5; Carroll 8
Subs not used: Randolph, Oxford, Hendrie, Obiang, Moses, Valencia
Booked: Carroll, Antonio
Goals: Carroll 44, 45 and 52
Manager: Slaven Bilic 6.5
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina 6; Bellerin 6, Gabriel 6, Koscielny 7, Monreal 5; Elneny 6.5 (Giroud 68, 5), Coquelin 5.5 (Ramsey 61, 5); Sanchez 6, Ozil 5.5, Iwobi 7; Welbeck 5 (Walcott 85)
Subs not used: Cech, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Chambers
Goals: Ozil 18, Sanchez 35, Koscielny 70
Manager: Arsene Wenger 6
MOM: Andy Carroll
Referee: Craig Pawson 5
*Player Ratings by Matt Barlow