West Ham 1 Arsenal 1

Fredi Kanoute marked his return to the side with the opening goal against Arsenal but didn't reappear for the second half as Hammers had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

It was a fair result in an absorbing London derby that both sides will argue they could have won, especially in the second half when the Gunners twice struck the bar and Hammers might have snatched it in a thrilling finale.

Jermain Defoe, the Old Trafford hero last Saturday, had to return to the bench as Kanoute returned from a hamstring injury that has kept him out since early November. But the England under-21 striker swapped places with the Frenchman at half-time and did well to set up Michael Carrick for an 88th minute striker that was only just deflected for a corner.

From Paolo Di Canio's flag kick, there was a loud appeal for handball that referee Mike Riley waved away.

But deep into time added on, Di Canio clipped a perfect freekick to the near post, where Don Hutchison - unmarked - agonisingly swung and missed at the ball from just six yards out.

Had Hutch converted it would have been harsh luck on the gold-shirted visitors, who went very cl.ose to scoring three times themselves in a see-saw second half.

Gilles Grimandi shot against the bar at the Centenary Stand end five minutes after the break, Robert Pires volleyed just wide of David James' far post and then - their best chance of all - Dennis Bergkamp rattled the bar again after being left to roam in acres of space behind the advancing Nigel Winterburn.

Upton Park's biggest crowd for 17 years - 34,523 - needed a winter warmer on a bitterly cold afternoon and no-one could complain at the entertainment value served up by both teams, matching up in 4-4-2 formation.

Glenn Roeder retained the midfield shape and personnel who had helped earn that 1-0 victory at Manchester United, with Trevor Sinclair playing wide on the left, Hutch on the right and young England prospects Joe Cole and Carrick in the centre. They linked up well with the front two of Kanoute and Di Canio and some of their neat, one-touch football was a delight to watch.

It is difficult to fault a performance in which everyone played his part, but none of the midfield four managed to get into clear scoring positions until those late efforts for Carrick and Hutchison. Cole was always busy and tricky, winning battles against Patrick Vieira and setting up the play, but he was invariably too deep to really hurt Arsenal's well marshalled back four.

It was up to Di Canio to provide the more incisive passes and his ability to play dangerous balls in behind the Gunners' defence looked to be Hammers' biggest threat.

At the other end, leading Premiership scorer Thierry Henry was denied a clear scoring chance to add to his 15-goal tally. Tohmas Repka shackled the Frenchman, while he was well backed up on the right by Sebastien Schemmel and Christian Dailly, who deserves credit for showing the character to bounce back from earlier shaky performances.

Schemmel set up the first goal, crossing from the byline to fellow countryman Kanoute, who drove home right-footed from eight yards in the 36th minute.

The crowd were up for it but the momentum was lost just two minutes later, when Henry got the slightest headed flick on a ritght-wing cross from Lauren, and there was Ashley Cole, unmarked, to equalise at the far post.

It was a fair result and although referee Riley dished out his Christmas cards early - Di Canio and Pires both booked for allegedly diving - he didn't spoil a fine afternoon's football.



3 - A good move down the right sees Hutchison set Schemmel away and the Frenchman feeds Kanoute, who then finds Di Canio. The Italian's flick doesn't release Cole, but the ball rebounds to Schemmel, whose shot is deflected behind for a corner.

6 - Bergkamp skips down the right and looks to find Pires but his cut-back is intelligently intercepted by Repka.

12 - Bergkamp dispossesses Winterburn on the touchline before sliding a pass to the edge of the area where Vieira is waiting. Thankfully, the Frenchman fires his shot just wide of the target.

15 - Carrick's pass appears to be too short for Cole, but the young midfielder harries Keown and wriggles into the box before blasting a left-foot shot just inches wide of the far post.

16 - Carrick's chip releases Sinclair on the left but the winger is hauled back by Lauren, who is booked for the foul. Di Canio fires the subsequent free-kick straight into the arms of Taylor.

19 - Carrick booked for foul on Pires.

20 - Vieira booked for foul on Sinclair.

24 - With his first real contribution of the game, Henry finally escapes out of Repka's pocket and fires an effort over the bar.

28 - A long ball over the top from Schemmel looks like releasing Kanoute, but Taylor rushes out to clear with his head.

31 - Repka booked for dissent.

35 - Di Canio booked for diving in the penalty area.

36 - GOAL! King Kanoute is back! Cole feeds Di Canio on the right and his pass appears to be running out of play before Schemmel typically chases a seemingly lost cause and cuts the ball back for Fredi to slam past Taylor from eight yards out. West Ham United 1 Arsenal 0.

38 - GOAL. Arsenal strike back almost immediately with an undeserved equaliser. Lauren's dangerous cross is flicked on by Henry and converted at the far post by Ashley Cole. West Ham United 1 Arsenal 1.

Added time: 2 minutes

Half-time: West Ham United 1 Arsenal 1.

Second half:

46 - Substitute for West Ham, Defoe replaces Kanoute.

49 - After Cole is fouled, Carrick sends a free-kick from 25 yards out high over the bar.

56 - Henry is allowed too much time and space on the left and cuts a left-footed cross back that Grimandi crashes against the bar from ten yards out.

59 - Di Canio's corner is flicked on by Sinclair at the near post but Keown and then Pires clear under pressure from Dailly in the six yard box.

64 - Pires booked for diving in the penalty area.

66 - A left-foot volley from Pires drops just wide of the post.

67 - Carrick's neat back-heel sets up Di Canio on the edge of the box, but the Italian scuffs his shot wide of the target.

70 - Cole booked for foul on Wiltord.

71 - Substitution for Arsenal., Edu replaces Wiltord.

78 - Substitution for Arsenal, Kanu replaces Pires.

81 - Kanu's pass finds Bergkamp in acres of space on the right after Winterburn is caught upfield, but the crossbar once again saves the Hammers with James well beaten by a fierce shot.

88 - After Defoe battles bravely on the right, the ball finds its way to Carrick, whose shot from the edge of the area is deflected and drops agonisingly on to the roof of the net. From the resulting corner, Sinclair's flick on appears to strike an Arsenal hand but referee Riley waves away claims for a penalty.

Added time: 2 minutes.

90 - Di Canio whips in a dangerous free-kick from the right that drops at the feet of Hutchison, who completely misses his kick and the ball is cleared for a corner.

Full time: West Ham United 1 Arsenal 1.