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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 January 2008, 16:55 GMT
Arsenal 2-0 West Ham
By Chris Bevan

Eduardo and Cesc Fabregas celebrate after putting Arsenal ahead
Eduardo and Cesc Fabregas celebrate Arsenal's opening goal
Arsenal comfortably saw off West Ham to maintain their two-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.

Eduardo put the Gunners ahead in the second minute, finding space in the box to smash home into the bottom corner.

Anton Ferdinand had a shot cleared off the line as West Ham responded well but Emmanuel Adebayor made it 2-0, slotting home from the narrowest of angles.

The Hammers' attacking threat faded as the game wore on and they ran out of ideas well before the final whistle.

Alan Curbishley's side, whose victory over Manchester United on Saturday had allowed Arsenal to reclaim top spot, came to the Emirates Stadium on the back of a productive festive period that has seen them move back into the top half of the table.

But they were chasing this game from the start thanks to Eduardo's latest strike, his fifth in his last three starts.

With two minutes gone, the Brazil-born Croatia international ghosted between Ferdinand and Matthew Upson, chested down Cesc Fabregas's cross with his first touch and buried the ball past Robert Green with his second.


Green's frustration at the amount of room Eduardo had been given was clear, but he could have no complaints about West Ham's response.

First Mark Noble's toe-poke flew just wide, then Carlton Cole shrugged off Justin Hoyte and saw his shot spin off Kolo Toure and arch past the post.

The Hammers went even closer from the resulting corner which saw Ferdinand's deflected near-post shot cleared off the line by Gael Clichy.

But Arsenal are known for their resilience almost as much as for their flair these days and the Gunners not only held out, but increased their lead in the 18th minute.

Adebayor beat Green to Clichy's long ball and, after nodding past the stranded goalkeeper, he threaded his shot between the post and defender Upson from an almost impossible angle.

It was a blow for West Ham but an even bigger one was the injury that forced Freddie Ljungberg off on 37 minutes, as the visitors did not come forward with the same conviction once the Swede departed his old stamping ground.

Adebayor nodded the ball past Rob Green before firing home
Adebayor nodded the ball past Rob Green before firing home

However, Arsenal were hardly creating much by then. Apart from a half-hearted Eduardo header and a deflected Mathieu Flamini effort, there was little to trouble Green.

The spark had gone out of this match long before Dean Ashton was belatedly brought off the bench for the injury-hit visitors.

Ashton could do little to change the outcome and George McCartney's fizzing shot wide of Manuel Almunia's post was the Hammers' only effort of merit after the break.

At the other end, Adebayor lobbed wide and Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky both brought good saves from Green but Arsenal seemed keener to out-pass West Ham than add to their goal tally.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will be happy enough with the outcome though, and, after seeing his side collect 10 points from four games over Christmas, he will be content that their title challenge is on track at the start of 2008.

  • Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
    "We did the job early on and after that we controlled the game.

    "West Ham created some dangerous situations from set-pieces in the first-half but we stayed in control.

    "They had given a lot when they beat Manchester United on Saturday but they still defended well. They never gave anything away but we commanded things."

  • West Ham manager Alan Curbishley:
    "We conceded a goal we are not used to conceding in the first two minutes. Eduardo had time to bring it down and pick his spot.

    "Their second goal was a disastrous one for us as well.

    "We created a couple of chances but poor defending meant we were on the back foot. You can't concede goals like that here and get away with it."

    Arsenal: Almunia, Justin Hoyte, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Eboue (Hleb 77), Fabregas, Flamini, Rosicky (Diaby 88), Eduardo (Walcott 63), Adebayor.
    Subs Not Used: Lehmann, Song Billong.

    Goals: Eduardo 2, Adebayor 18.

    West Ham: Green, Neill, Ferdinand, Upson, McCartney, Pantsil, Mullins (Camara 77), Spector, Noble, Ljungberg (Collison 37), Cole (Ashton 71).
    Subs Not Used: Wright, Tomkins.

    Booked: Cole, McCartney, Noble.

    Att: 60,102

    Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Eduardo 8.26 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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