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Saturday, 15 December, 2001, 16:56 GMT
Hammers hold Arsenal
Paolo di Canio and Sylvain Wiltord tangle
Arsenal close the gap on Liverpool to two points
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West Ham 1-1 Arsenal

Ashley Cole's first strike of the season cancelled out Frederic Kanoute's opener as West Ham and Arsenal shared the points at Upton Park.

The Gunners will feel they have dropped two points as they recovered from a slow start to dominate the game and were prevented by the woodwork twice as they tried to find a winner.

French striker Kanoute was back in the West Ham side after a four-match absence due to a hamstring strain.

The Hammers were looking to build on their victory over Manchester United last weekend, which was their first win in six matches.

  Key monents
36 mins: Frederic Kanoute gives West Ham the lead
39 mins: Ashley Cole heads in the equaliser
Arsenal needed to maintain the form that has given them the best away record in the Premiership - unbeaten in eight games - and close the gap on leaders Liverpool.

It was the goal-scoring hero at Old Trafford, Jermaine Defoe, who made way for the returning Kanoute.

And the decision looked justified as Kanoute put his side ahead, drilling home from Sebastien Schemmel's cut-back from the right on 36 minutes.

We've shown what we can do when everyone is fit - we can play attractive football
West Ham boss Glenn Roeder

It was a fair reflection on the match as West Ham took the game to the visitors, with Michael Carrick and Joe Cole in impressive form.

Arsenal were perhaps weakened without their in-form midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, the Gunners' player of the month for November, who was suffering from a back injury.

Gilles Grimandi, making his 100th appearance for the Gunners, was drafted into midfield.

Arsenal, who showed their resilience when coming back from two goals down against Aston Villa last weekend, needed to draw on an ever-improving team spirit again.

Frederic Kanoute (left) celebrates his striker
Kanoute scored on his return after injury

And they responded almost immediately after going behind as Cole restored parity, volleying in at the far post after Thierry Henry had helped on Lauren's centre.

Defoe entered the action after the interval, but it was Arsenal who were more quickly into their rhythm.

Grimandi crashed a header off the bar and Robert Pires was causing problems down the flanks.

We should have won the game because we missed some great opportunities - but West Ham have a good side
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

Before that, the solid Tomas Repka did well to deny Henry, who almost latched onto a long ball by Lauren.

Di Canio's misplaced pass spoiled a flowing Hammers move and his frustration led to a tangle with Martin Keown.

Not for the first time, the pair engaged in a frank exchange of views.

Late on, the crossbar came to the hosts' rescue again as Dennis Bergkamp raced clear and thumped his shot off the frame of the goal.

The Hammers could have snatched it at the last, but Don Hutchison missed a free header.

West Ham: James, Schemmel, Repka, Dailly, Winterburn, Hutchison, Carrick, Cole, Sinclair, Kanoute, Di Canio. Subs: Anderson, Minto, Foxe, Courtois, Defoe.

Arsenal: Taylor, Lauren, Campbell, Keown, Cole, Pires, Vieira, Grimandi, Wiltord, Bergkamp, Henry. Subs: Stack, van Bronckhorst, Edu, Upson, Kanu.

Referee: M Riley (Leeds).

BBC Sport's David Oates
"This London derby was full of incident"
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