Football: Arsenal blow title chance

Andy Carroll acrobatically volleying into the corner for West ham's second goal. The English striker scored an eight-minute hat-trick as West Ham's last London derby at Upton Park ended in a frenetic 3-3 draw with Arsenal.
Andy Carroll acrobatically volleying into the corner for West ham's second goal. The English striker scored an eight-minute hat-trick as West Ham's last London derby at Upton Park ended in a frenetic 3-3 draw with Arsenal.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Overhauling leaders Leicester will be tough after they throw away 2-0 lead to draw

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

West Ham United 3
Arsenal 3

LONDON • If this was the game which ended Arsenal's hopes of winning the Premier League title for another year, at least they will never forget their final visit to Upton Park.

There was warm applause at the end of a pulsating 3-3 draw that did little for either side in the grander scheme of things yesterday.

West Ham United needed a win to keep up with the Manchester clubs in the race for Champions League qualification, but the greater disappointment was felt by the visitors, who will fall 13 points behind the leaders if Leicester City win at Sunderland today.

The unfortunate truth for Arsene Wenger is that his team's maddening self-destructive tendencies have flared up on too many occasions this season, and the manner in which a 2-0 lead was chucked away should be of deep embarrassment to Arsenal.

Unable to deal with Andy Carroll's aerial might, they allowed the West Ham striker to score his first hat-trick since August 2010, and needed a late equaliser from Laurent Koscielny to save a point.

  • 7min 14sec
    Andy Carroll's hat-trick is the fastest in the Premier League this season.

The afternoon began with such promise for Arsenal. They have played with more fluency since adding the flair of Alex Iwobi to their attack.

The 19-year-old created the goals that allowed Arsenal to cruise into a 2-0 lead, with Mesut Oezil and Alexis Sanchez providing the finishes.

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When Sanchez scored Arsenal's second goal 10 minutes before the break, it seemed inconceivable that they would find themselves 2-3 down seven minutes into the second half.

West Ham used the 3-4-2-1 system that worked so effectively in their win over Tottenham Hotspur last month, with Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini floating behind Carroll, but they looked vulnerable whenever their midfield was bypassed by quick passes.

Arsenal flowed forward on the break repeatedly and, after a few swift attacks, they made the breakthrough thanks to a moment of incision from Iwobi in the 18th minute. Played onside by Angelo Ogbonna, Oezil finished with aplomb.

Iwobi's assist for Sanchez's goal was even better, a scoop over the West Ham defence for the Chilean forward, who rolled the ball past the exposed Adrian.

However, one of the more impressive features of this West Ham side is their ability to regain their composure in difficult moments, and they demonstrated their powers of recovery by hauling themselves level in the space of three manic minutes at the end of the first half.

They had barely threatened before Carroll attacked Aaron Cresswell's cross from the left, thudding a header low to David Ospina's left, and the roof nearly flew off Upton Park when the striker equalised in stoppage time.

Mark Noble chipped a cross in from the right and, although Carroll's first effort was blocked, he adjusted superbly to hook an acrobatic volley past Ospina.

In the second half, he completed the comeback by meeting Michail Antonio's cross from the right with an unstoppable header at the far post in the 52nd minute.

The drama was unrelenting. Wenger threw on Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey. Yet it was a defender who saved Arsenal, Koscielny crashing the ball in after Danny Welbeck miscontrolled Oezil's cross with 20 minutes to go.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 10, 2016, with the headline 'ARSENAL BLOW TITLE CHANCE'. Print Edition | Subscribe