'Sucker punches' floor Hammers

Assistant manager Neil McDonald felt West Ham United were hard done by in losing 3-0 at Arsenal
Anybody picking up their Sunday newspaper and flicking through the football pages will see the scoreline ‘Arsenal 3 West Ham United 0’.

However, the final score does not tell the full story of a game that the Hammers were right in the thick of until the final ten minutes.

With Adrian ignoring the pain of a dislocated finger suffered in the warm-up, West Ham held firm until the final seconds of added time at the end of the first half, when Olivier Giroud sent an unstoppable shot past the Spaniard.

The visitors came out fighting at the Emirates and could have levelled, only for Mark Noble and Matt Jarvis to fire over the top when well-placed.

As the Hammers tired, those misses cost them dear as Aaron Ramsey and substitute Mathieu Flamini wrapped up the three points with two goals in the closing stages.

Assistant manager Neil McDonald felt the final score was harsh on a West Ham shorn of a host of injured and ineligible players.

“We were right in it until they scored their second goal,” said McDonald. “We also had to recover from the sucker punch of them scoring in the final five seconds of the first half.

“Even though they breached us a couple of times, Adrian has made some fantastic saves to keep us in the game early on, so that goal knocked the stuffing out of us right on half-time.

“The team talk did not really change – we had to pass the ball and move up the pitch a little bit better and try to put them under pressure. The players listened to what the manager said and we had the ball on the front foot a little bit better.

“We got in behind them and created a couple of chances, but we didn’t take them and then we got hit with another sucker punch with two goals in quick succession, as Arsenal sometimes do at home.

“We were disappointed with their second goal, as it came from a throw-in situation and we work very hard on stopping the opposition scoring from set plays.

“The second goal killed us and didn’t really give us a chance to get back into the game, then their third one shouldn’t have happened because we should have shut up shop and not allowed it.

“Game-plan wise it wasn’t too bad in the first half and the response from the players was really good, considering we have got a few important players injured. The goalkeeper was also absolutely magnificent, considering he dislocated his finger before the game.”
The goalkeeper was also absolutely magnificent, considering he dislocated his finger before the game
Nobody would have deduced Adrian’s injury from his outstanding display, which saw the No13 make splendid saves to deny Alexis Sanchez twice, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil.

“He was very brave in playing on and made some important saves,” McDonald confirmed. “Then they probably had three chances in the second half and scored two, which is how clinical you have to be at this level.”

With a difficult run of results now stretching to one win in 12 league matches, the assistant boss knows West Ham have to take advantage of a kinder fixture list going forward.

After facing six of the current top seven since 31 January, the Hammers host Sunderland, travel to Leicester City and welcome Stoke City in their next three games.

“Football is all about results, and of course it is. We’ve played a lot of the top teams recently and we’ve competed against them – yes, we’ve drawn games we should have won and lost some but these are difficult games.

“The manager has been really please with most of the performances but this game is all about results. Hopefully the next few games are a good set of games to put some points on the board and get the confidence back.

“We’ve competed against some of the best teams in the league, so let’s see how we can do in these next few games and put some big points on the board and get us back up the table to where we were before we played the top six.”