Premier League – Arsenal held by Hammers

Eurosport – 

Arsenal‘s hopes of a top four spot in the Premier League took a further blow as they were held to a goalless draw by West Ham at the Emirates Stadium.

It was a sixth draw in ten games for Arsene Wenger’s side who dominated possession but failed to breakthrough a Hammers defence well marshalled by James Collins and Matthew Upson.

Abou Diaby hit the crossbar early on and Emmanuel Adebayor should have done better with two second-half efforts but they remain five points behind fourth placed Aston Villa.

Neither keeper was tested in the first-half although Diaby’s third minute header from a corner deflected off Collins and off the top of the crossbar.

Nicklas Bendtner saw a goalbound header blocked by Upson but the Dane should have done better midway through the first-half when he climbed above Collins to meet Samir Nasri‘s cross but headed tamely wide.

West Ham offered virtually nothing in the final third although Gael Clichy was forced to head Collins’ goalbound header from off his line in first-half injury time.

Arsenal tried to increase the pace in the second-half and a weak punch from Robert Green fell to Kolo Toure whose acrobatic bicycle kick was headed off the line by Collins.

Diaby then dragged a shot past the post and Denilson had an effort blocked by the sliding Upson before Adebayor spurned the best two chances of the match.

Bacary Sagna found space down the right and he slid the ball into the Togo striker who nipped ahead of Collins at the near post but poked his effort wide.

He then climbed high to meet Carlos Vela’s cross but his header from seven yards was straight into the arms of Green.

West Ham, who were the first team to win at the Emirates Stadium in April 2007, continued to sit back and invite pressure and a sole Carlton Cole strike from long-range was the only time Manuel Almunia was called into action.

Wenger had rested leading scorer Robin van Persie and finally called on the 13-goal Dutchman – who netted a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a point at Everton in midweek – with 21 minutes to go.

But he failed to find the breakthough with his scuffed shot in injury time ensuring the Hammers stretched their unbeaten run to eight games.

There was a further blow for Wenger late on when Diaby was stretchered off following a heavy tackle by West Ham’s new signing Savio Nsereko, the midfielder joining Emmanuel Eboue, who limped off in the first-half, on the treatment table.

Lee Walker / Eurosport