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Ian Brown's match report from Upton Park.
 real 14k

Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Pires guns down Hammers
Pires: Scored one and made the other
West Ham 1-2 Arsenal

Robert Pires scored one and made the other as Arsenal out-classed West Ham at Upton Park in a thrilling London derby to haul themselves level on points with Manchester United.

The victory opens a considerable gap in the Premiership and with just three months of the season played, the championship already appears to be turning into a two-horse race.

Now that Manchester United have exposed the faultline running from Leicester to Leeds, it seems only Arsene Wenger's side can realistically challenge the champions for the Premiership crown.

I knew if West Ham scored we would be under pressure and that is what happened. Patrick Vieira was a giant from the first to the last minute
  Arsene Wenger, Arsenal

The Gunners, who started without chief assassin Thierry Henry, controlled the first half from start to finish with an immaculate exhibition of spirited, intelligent football.


After shading the opening exchanges, it seemed only a matter of time before the Arsenal capitalised on one of their many opportunities and unsurprisingly, it arrived from their midweek hero Pires.

Bergkamp: Celebrates the second goal
Fresh from his goalscoring exploits in Italy, the winger took full advantage of Trevor Sinclair's poor back pass with a sublime right-footed lob which gave Shaka Hislop no chance.

Even without Henry and Tony Adams, Arsenal looked unstoppable and they were soon two goals ahead after an error from Rio Ferdinand.

Pires broke down the left before sending a swirling cross into the danger zone. With Bergkamp charging in, Ferdinand's brushed header looped over Hislop and into the net to give the visitors a two-goal cushion.

Wiltord continued to pepper the goal throughout the first 45 minutes and the exertions of Tuesday never really took their toll until the second half.

We gave away two terrible goals and you can't do that to a team like Arsenal; they are one of the best teams in Europe
  Harry Redknapp, West Ham

But, after Di Canio had gone close, the hosts pulled themselves back into the game after the break thanks to veteran left back Stuart Pearce.

The former England captain drilled a low left-foot shot towards goal and, with Seaman unsighted thanks to a clever dummy from Di Canio, the ball flew into the back of the net to give West Ham hope.

West Ham suddenly began to turn up the heat, with Ferdinand having a great chance to make amends for his earlier own-goal with a free header which flew wide.

But Arsenal, who had a late goal from Pires disallowed after Bergkamp was adjudged to be offside, clung on to collect the three points.

West Ham: Hislop, S. Pearce, Ferdinand, Lomas, Winterburn, Lampard, Sinclair, Cole, Moncur, Di Canio, Kanoute. Subs: Bywater, Suker, Carrick, Diawara, I. Pearce.

Arsenal: Seaman, Luzhny, Keown, Silvinho, Grimandi, Vieira, Ljungberg, Lauren, Pires, Wiltord, Bergkamp. Subs: Lukic, Dixon, Henry, Parlour, Kanu.

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)

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