Premier League – Adebayor inspires Arsenal

Arsenal finally broke down a resolute West Ham with two goals in the final quarter of an hour to record a 2-0 Premier League win at Upton Park.

FOOTBALL 2008-2009 Premier League Arsenal Emmanuel Adebayor - 0

Emmanuel Adebayor, a 68th minute substitute, proved to be the difference between the two sides; the Togo striker was involved in both goals.

First it was his teasing cross-shot that Julien Faubert put into his own net on 75 minutes before he notched one of his own following an injury-time breakaway to seal all three points for the Gunners.

West Ham – for whom Robert Green was excellent – fell apart at the game neared a conclusion and ended the game with 10 men after top scorer Carlton Cole was sent off following a lunge on Alex Song.

The victory saw Arsene Wenger’s side stay in touch with the leaders and they ended the weekend one point behind Chelsea and Hull City and four off table toppers Liverpool.

The Gunners started sluggishly and had Manuel Almunia to thank for keeping the score at 0-0 after 10 minutes when David Di Michele unleashed a powerful first time drive that the Spanish keeper did well to tip over the bar.

But the visitors soon sparked into life as man of the moment Theo Walcott burst forward and fired a shot from a tight angle which crashed against the cross bar after 20 minutes.

The England winger should really have centred for Nicklas Bendtner in the centre, but such is his confidence at the moment, and considering his recent goalscoring form, it is difficult to begrudge him thinking he can score from anywhere.

But, Adebayor aside, it was Green who was to prove to be the most influential player on the pitch, the Hammers keeper making a number of important saves to keep the hosts at bay for 75 minutes.

His right to still be on the pitch to make those saves was, however, open to debate following an incident on 24 minutes that easily could have seen him sent off.

The man tipped by many to be a future England number one made a terrible misjudgement when he gathered the ball outside the box under as Bendtner threatened to latch onto a long ball through. Fortunately for him, and West Ham, the linesman had been unable to keep pace and kept his flag down.

It was a bad miss by the officials as Green went on to make a number of key saves, two of which came before the break to deny first Walcott and then Bendtner.

In between those stops, Almunia pulled out a top drawer save of his own at the other end, sticking out a leg to deny the speeding Craig Bellamy a breakaway goal.

Cole saw a header bounce wide of the post soon after the break, but West Ham were not to get much more in front of goal for the rest of the afternoon as the introduction of Adebayor inspired Arsenal to up their game.

The striker, who was overlooked from the start in favour of Bendtner, nearly had an immediate impact, heading wide from a free kick with his first touch.

Green was brought into action again soon after, Van Persie’s powerful shot taking a slight deflection on its way through to test the keeper to his limits.

That time, impressively, he was equal to it, but there was nothing he could do moments later when the Dutchman crashed a brilliantly taken free kick against the upright.

Arsenal’s pressure soon reaped rewards when Faubert slid in to meet Adebayor’s cross-shot in an attempt to hook the ball clear; he only succeeded in diverting the ball past his own keeper and into his own net.

West Ham huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, but despite the willingness of Bellamey, the strength of Cole and the guile of Di Michele, they lacked the nous to break down the Gunners defence.

And when Adebayor raced onto Bendtner’s pass on a stoppage-time break to round Green and finish coolly into an empty net, the destination of the three points was put beyond any doubt.

There was still time for Cole to receive his marching orders as West Ham fell to a second consecutive home league defeat.

Mike Hytner / Eurosport
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