Hammers v Arsenal

What a difference a week makes! Just seven days ago, Hammers were getting ready to face Blackburn Rovers on the back of an eight-match losing run that had seen Alan Pardew come under increasing pressure as his team slipped into the Premiership relegation zone.

Now, having stopped the rot with that vital 2-1 victory against Mark Hughes's team a week ago, the grey skies over Upton Park have cleared and the outlook is bright and sunny again after a memorable triumph against north London rivals Arsenal.

Having matched the Champions League finalists every step of the way in a rousing encounter at the Boleyn Ground, most in the 34,969 crowd would have been happy with a creditable 0-0 draw - so it was scenes of pure ecstasy that greeted Marlon Harewood's 89th minute winner, lifting Hammers into 15th place in the table and ensuring that Pardew and his players can set their sights on looking onwards and upwards rather than back over their shoulders.

The Hammers boss had made two changes to his starting line-up following last weekend's morale-boosting 2-1 win against Blackburn Rovers. Paul Konchesky returned from a one-match ban to replace George McCartney while, as part of a 4-5-1 formation, Lee Bowyer came in for Teddy Sheringham, leaving Bobby Zamora to fill the lone role in attack.

Despite the midfield overload, though, Hammers were far from defensive in their approach to the game, and came close to opening the scoring as early as the sixth minute, when Matthew Etherington played a short corner to Yossi Benayoun, collected the return and fired in a fierce curling effort that took a deflection off Gael Clichy and flew just inches wide of the far post.

However, against an Arsenal attack containing the likes of Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie, Tomas Rosicky and Alexander Hleb, it was clear that the hosts would be called into action at the other end, and just six minutes later Robert Green was forced into a superb one-handed save after Henry had laid off a cross for Van Persie to hit from 12 yards out.

Jonathan Spector was then booked for a foul on Van Persie as the Gunners threatened to take a stranglehold on the game, but again Hammers refused to allow their opponents to dictate the tempo and, midway through the first half, they almost found a breakthrough when Lehmann's weak goal-kick led to Benayoun getting on the end of Spector's near-post cross, only to divert his header wide of the target.

The end-to-end action continued at full pace moments later, as another exquisite Henry lay-off released Rosicky through the centre, but the Czech midfielder fired wide from the edge of the penalty area. Henry then tried his own luck with a blistering low shot that was superbly blocked by Anton Ferdinand…but sadly at a price.

The England under-21 defender was left hobbling in pain after his ankle was jarred by the full force of Henry's effort, and limped off just moments before the break, to be replaced by the only defensive option on the substitutes' bench - full-back McCartney.

The Northern Ireland international, who made an impressive Premiership debut against Blackburn last week, slotted straight into the centre of defence alongside Danny Gabbidon, and the second half began in much the same way as the first, with both sides remaining positive in their attempts to fashion an opener.

With an hour gone, Arsenal added some fresh legs in attack by replacing Van Persie with Adebayor and just two minutes later, Alan Pardew followed suit. Having fought an unselfish and tireless battle up front on his own, Zamora departed to a standing ovation, while Lee Bowyer also made way as Harewood and Sheringham entered the fray, with Hammers switching to a more direct and familiar 4-4-2 formation.

Just a minute later, the switch almost paid dividends, as Harewood's cross from the left was touched back by Sheringham to Mullins on the edge of the box, but the midfielder's first-time effort was comfortably saved by Lehmann.

Sheringham then had a close-range effort deflected over the bar for a corner, before Green was called into action at the other end to keep out a low effort from Henry, and Hleb had a penalty appeal turned down following a challenge from Spector.

With 13 minutes remaining, Hammers were presented with the golden opportunity they had been pushing for, as Sheringham's deft header and a slip on the halfway line from Gallas allowed Harewood to race clear, but the striker saw his shot blocked by Lehmann.

At that stage, it seemed likely that a point would be the best Pardew's troops could hope for, particularly when Kolo Toure surged forward and unleashed a 35-yard thunderbolt that had most in the stadium holding their breath for a second as the ball crashed into the side-netting.

As the game drew to a close, it was Arsenal who appeared to be finishing the stronger, and only a couple of perfectly-timed challenges from man of the match Gabbidon prevented the visitors from breaking through.

Then, with just a minute of normal time remaining, came the moment we had been praying for. Etherington suddenly found a bit more fuel in the tank to create one more attack down the left and, having beaten the challenge of Eboue, he delivered an inviting low cross into the six-yard box that Harewood gleefully prodded past Lehmann for his first Premiership goal of the season.

The celebrations reverberating around Upton Park continued long after the final whistle, and, having now taking seven points from our last three encounters against Arsene Wenger's team, Hammers will be hoping that this latest triumph will provide the catalyst for another successful campaign.