Sunday, April 10

Andy Carroll unstoppable as ref robs Hammers again in six-goal thriller

West Ham 3 Arsenal 3

There’s a long wait in Ken’s Café at high noon as we make a late bid to get served before 12.45pm and this time it’s me who has to demolish egg, chips and beans in two minutes at 12.35pm. Michael and Matt are discussing Mark Almond musicals as we wonder if Nigel thinks it’s a 3pm kick-off. He makes a late appearance to confirm that he hates Soft Cell even more than The Smiths, before we make a run to the East Stand where Fraser is mentally composing his Victorian novel about gunslingers that isn’t a Western.

There’s a great atmosphere in the stadium and a rousing “We’ve got Payet!” going round all four stands. Andy Carroll picks up a needless booking in the third minute by fouling Koscielny and we worry he’s too fired up. A few minutes later Carroll’s overhead kick is headed into the net by Lanzini but is incorrectly disallowed for offside by referee Craig Pawson.

That would have been a great start but our back five, with Tomkins and Antonio on the right is looking unsure and Reid and Ogbonna are having trouble tracking the runs of Sanchez. Monreal dives in the box and is still on the ground claiming a penalty as Iwobi finds Ozil The prone and offside Monreal moves out of Ozil’s way to allow the Gunner to score and West Ham to vainly appeal for offside.

“You’re just a c*** with a whistle!" goes up from the home fans.

It gets worse as Iwobi finds Sanchez who has drifted through our defence and slots home.

“You’re gonna win fuck all!” sing the gleeful Arsenal fans.

“We could be on for a heavy beating here,” suggests Nigel.

“Could be another 4-0,” I concur.

Antonio rouses the crowd by winning a tackle and playing a fine crossfield ball and Carroll turns and has a decent shot saved. But we’re still looking to keep it down to 2-0 and regroup at half-time.

“Arsenal are like Leicester but with a Rolls Royce engine,” muses Michael, as Mystic May suggests, rather hopefully, that the Gunners might still be suspect at the back.

On 44 minutes Cresswell swings in a cross and Carroll is allowed time to get a run on the defender and head home. That changes things before half-time. Only it gets better. In added time a west Ham corner is punched clear by Ospina and Noble does really well to beat his man and cross it back in. Andy Carroll mishits his first shot against Gabriel but then athletically volleys home the rebound to cause pandemonium at the Boleyn and run towards the corner doing his Angel of the North celebration. 2-2 and what a half.

Matt notes that the PA plays The Cult at half-time and we wonder if the referee is a cult with a whistle. Instead of discussing how to keep the score down, we’re talking about whether Andy Carroll could get a hat-trick and go to the Euros with England. Though he’s also the sort of player who might then get sent of taking off his shirt while celebrating.

Emineke comes on for Tomkins as West Ham revert to a flat back four and start the second half by going at the Gunners. Arsenal complain as Carroll escapes censure for jumping with an arm in Gabriel’s face, but it looked accidental to me as Carroll was looking at the ball wen jumping. Lanzini has a penalty appeal turned down and then Carroll chases down Koscielny and in a muddle with Ospina, Payet taps the loose ball home. Looked like a 50/50 tussle, but the ref disallows another West ham goal.

West Ham will not be thwarted; Andy Carroll plays a great ball out wide to Antonio on the right. The Shakespearian winger beats Monreal and dinks in a great cross for Carroll to hang above Bellerin and power home a header for a seven-minute hat-trick. Cue an eruption of arms in the Bobby Moore Stand as Andy runs over to our corner flag and Mark Noble sensibly jumps on him to ensure he keeps his shirt on. Has to be Carroll’s best performance for the Hammers.

“Who are yer!” and “Two nil and you fucked it up!” chant the WHU fans.

To their credit, Arsenal keep calm and come back into the game with Ozil prominent. Lanzini clears off the line from Monreal and Arsenal bring on Giroud and Ramsey, which is worrying. They equalise when Giroud’s clever flick to Ozil sees Welbeck mishit the ball to Koscielny who fires home. Winston Reid should probably have been tighter.

There’s still time for Ospina to nervously tip away efforts from Payet and Cresswell as both sides go for the winner. Payet makes several great runs in from the left but chooses the wrong option after beating three players.

The tension’s getting to Matt, who in language the Archbishop of Canterbury might not approve of, berates Adrian for making a poor clearance, Dimitri for not passing to Emineke but instead waiting for a free kick this ref's never going to give and the hapless ref for not sending off Gabriel for kicking out at Carroll (the Arsenal man escapes as the ref has already penalised Big Andy for a foul.)

It’s breathless stuff and like one of the mad high-scoring games from the Greenwood era. Well, we wanted to be entertained, and nobody respects the point here. Somehow it ends at 3-3 and Bubbles and If The Kids Are United comes on the PA as the players salute the crowd. Four games in a row now that we've had some dubious decisions and we wonder if there's a conspiracy against West Ham organised by the CIA and aliens from Roswell. Though personally I think it's been orchestrated by the people who faked the Moon landings.

So it’s off to the beer garden at the Central, where we muse over a fantastic game among the iffy charity collectors and dvd sellers as we wait for Matt’s mate Peggsy. A point won’t get us into the Champions League and some dodgy refereeing has cost us again — but after a game like that who really cares?

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 7; Antonio 8, Tomkins 5 (Emenike 5), Reid 5, Ogbonna 5, Cresswell 7; Noble 7, Kouyate 7, Payet 7, Lanzini 8; Carroll 9.


matt said...

The Archbishop is well-known for forgiveness. Although he would draw the line at the refs we are suffering.And if I suggested anything to the brilliant Payet, it was to pass to the unmarked Emenike, rather than wait for the ref to give him a free kick, which was never going to happen.

Pete May said...

That Archbishop says the referee is of dubious parentage - and he should know. Will clarify the Emenike quote in David Cameron-like spirit of transparency.

Chrissy Brand said...

Was that the fastest ever hat trick at Upton Park I wonder?

Chrissy Brand said...
This comment has been removed by the author.