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Hammers come up short at the Emirates


West Ham continued a recent poor habit against Arsenal, going ahead against the Gunners but eventually succumbing to the FA Cup finalists in a 3-1 defeat. - Report: Arsenal 3-1 West Ham - Delaney: Three things: Arsenal vs. West Ham This is the fourth game on the bounce in which the Hammers have lead against Arsenal but allowed the Gunners to hit back. In the other games though, the greater strength and organisation of the Emirates side had proved irresistible. In this match, the Hammers were partly responsible for their own demise. If football is as much a mental battle as it is a physical one, then West Ham blinked and gave away the initiative at a crucial time in the match. Leading 1-0 thanks to a headed Matt Jarvis goal on 40 minutes, with the home side looking nervous and unsure against a spirited Hammers team who seem to have thrown off their recent defensive shackles, Arsenal scored a crucial equaliser thanks to an appalling error by Stewart Downing. With the ball in the corner and the Hammers in possession, Downing punted an aimless ball down the line to Santi Carzola -- probably Arsenal's best player on the night -- allowing the diminutive Spaniard to drive forward and play an inch-perfect pass to Lukas Podolski. As is often the way when the German international plays against the Hammers, the centre-forward gathered the ball smartly and drove into the net, to take the home side into the break level and completely alter the course of the game. Had Arsenal gone in a goal down, they would surely have received some strong barracking from a quiet home crowd who seemed as nervous as their team, as it was, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had a much easier task in the second period. West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is a man who likes to do the small things properly, and he will surely be furious with Downing who did little at the other end to make up for his error. In fact, for once, it was on the other wing where West Ham excelled; Jarvis having an outstanding first half, not only finding spaces and worrying Arsenal's defence but also allowing Mo Diame to play a more natural game in the middle. It was Jarvis who put the claret and blue ahead, bravely missing a boot centimetres from his head as he nodded in after superb work by Antonio Nocerino -- in for the injured captain Kevin Nolan -- who got wide on the right and twice had a shot close in before the ball bounced up for Jarvis to score. Once Podolski had found the net though, Arsenal became a different team and when Oliver Giroud scored a superb second goal after 55 minutes, the writing was on the wall for the Hammers. To be fair to West Ham, they were still looking to go forward and playing some neat football in midfield without resorting to the quick ball forward, but the truth is that this Hammers side don't have three or four goals in them and confidence starts to seep away when they are chasing a game. There was still a slight air of uncertainty about the end result when the Gunners took the lead, but West Ham didn't really threaten enough -- a continuing story throughout the season -- and once Podolski had again scored after 78 minutes, cleverly allowing James Tomkins to play him onside before volleying into the roof of the net, there was even a little worry that the visitors might suffer a wholly unwarranted heavy defeat as Gunners substitute Aaron Ramsey looked dangerous. The Hammers held out against further attacks though, as Arsenal gained confidence despite the stamina-sapping exploits in the semi-final at the weekend. It will be interesting to see what some of those fans who criticised Allardyce earlier this season thought of the manager's tactics on the night. The introduction of Joe Cole, Ricardo Vaz Te and Carlton Cole suggested Big Sam thought he could get something from this game, although there wasn't much, bar a speculative header from Carlton Cole to encourage him on the substitutions. An interesting talking point after though was a foul on Jarvis in the area in the first half. There was no doubt that Bacary Sagna firmly caught Jarvis in a knee-high tackle as the winger run across the defender following the ball after an Andy Carroll header was flicked on by Diame, but after an initial stumble, Jarvis stayed on his feet, chased down the ball and crossed -- but the move came to nothing. Much to the amusement of TV pundit Paul Merson who was visibly shaking with laughter, England's Assistant Coach Gary Neville made an impassioned riposte to the claim that Jarvis did the 'right thing' by staying up when a fall would surely have signalled a penalty -- the foul was right in front of the referee -- and a conversion and the later goal would have given West Ham a 2-0 lead. "He can go down, get a penalty and his team might have gone on to win the game or he can stay on his feet and get a pat on the back from his Nan when he gets home tonight," said Neville. The ex-Manchester United defender made an interesting debate as he explained that, "We in England are the only country who thinks like we do about diving. We look at Jarvis trying to stay on his feet and say 'Well done, Son' but the rest of the world would look at that and think he's mad" Whatever the feelings though, this wasn't really a game where a referee decision was to decide the result. Rather Allardyce will point to some indecisive defending against a team who were visibly struggling before being allowed back into the match. The Hammers move on to a home game against Crystal Palace, still looking for the extra point or three that should confirm their presence in the Premier League next season while the coaching staff will be trying to reinstate the miserly defence seen earlier this season. It's unlikely to make much difference with the form of some of the teams below them, but it would benefit the Hammers to cling onto their current 11th place.

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