Sunday 16 April 2023

By Jove! That was a Proper Corker!

Well well well! Two down after ten minutes and with the Gunners coasting it looked all over at the London Stadium today. 

The Hammers seemed to start brightly but fell foul to two bits of Arsenal attacking brilliance. They could have folded but instead put their heads down and kept going.

Arsenal are a fearsome crew when firing on all cylinders and were strutting about but got caught in possession in their own half and a deft ball through to Paqueta brought a clumsy challenge inside the box and it was game on again!

Up stepped Said Benrahma and slotted the penalty. 1-2 and there was a chink of light again. They say its the hope that kills and the Hammers took the bait with a pounding of the Arsenal defence up to half time but couldn't get on level terms.

Its a story we've seen played out before - gallant Hammers get back into the game and then over commit and get caught. 

That seemed to be the case when Arsenal were awarded a 'modern' penalty as the ball struck an outrushing Michail Antonio inside the box and although there was clearly no intent, Arsenal had a penalty.

Bukayo Saka has been accurate with penalties since the world cup but amazingly slooted the ball wide and tge stadium erupted with relief and restored belief.

Soon after, Jarrod Bowen met a looping high ball into the box with a thumping shot that left Ramsdale floundering and it was 2-2.

Again, there is a well warn script for these games where Arsenal nick a late winner and the Hammers are left to cry over moral victory but no, West ham could smell the Gooners fear and were unlucky not to grab all three points as Antonio headed onto the bar in the dying moments.

And so, a draw - but for West ham one where the fans got a taste of the courage and commitment that has seemed lacking for much of the season. Just the boost needed before Gent arrive for the European quarter final second leg on Thursday followed by a big clash at Bournemouth next weekend. The Hammers relegation likelihood has dropped to just 4% after this weekend's results, which can only help our European aspirations.

For Arsenal, two points dropped but worryingly, West ham threw light on a chink in their armour and no doubt this game will give encouragement to other sides facing the Gunners in their run in.

Great to see a bloody decent toe to toe derby match for a change!


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