Julian Dicks could be excused for asking the referee the score in the second half: it took some believing, even without the handicap of double vision. "One-nil to the Arsenal" would surely, though, have come as no surprise to the West Ham captain - nor the second-half backs-to-the-wall performance from the Gunners which accompanied it.
Even without their first choice centre-backs, Tony Adams and Steve Bould, Arsenal are as capable as ever of grinding out scorelines like this - they could probably do it with their eyes closed, never mind double vision.
One remark from the Arsenal manager, Bruce Rioch - "our creative side wasn't as good as we would have liked it" - was enough to dampen the celebrations of absent Arsenal fans.
In witnessing the unfortunate demise of a five-match winning Premiership run, his counterpart, Harry Redknapp, was fully entitled to seek consolation, not only in the spirit of his team's performance, which a penalty save by the excellent David Seaman from Dicks failed to dull, but the prospect that there is still more to come. If only Rioch could say the same. Quite where Redknapp is going to fit in Ilie Dumitrescu (a favourable reply is expected on his work-permit application from the DoE today), and,when fit, John Moncur and Tim Breacker is another matter.
Meanwhile, the Hammers defence looked distinctly unsure of itself in the absence of Slaven Bilic, none more so than the stand-in, John Harkes, whose "sloppy back-pass", in the words of Redknapp, "cost us the game".
Given the comic proportions of the goal, it seemed a bit rich that Upton Park's video screen should ridicule Arsenal's more leaden-footed moments with the figure of a chortling clown. But the last laugh could still be on the Gunners if the one-time relegation certainties were to qualify ahead of them for Europe.
Goal: Hartson (2) 0-1.
West Ham United (3-5-2): Miklosko; Potts, Rieper, Dicks; Harkes (Dani, 67), Bishop, Williamson, Hughes, Rowland; Cottee, Dowie. Substitutes not used: Whitbread, Sealey (gk).
Arsenal (3-5-2): Seaman; Keown, Linighan, Morrow; Dixon, Parlour, Merson, Hillier (Platt, h-t), Winterburn; Bergkamp, Hartson. Substitutes not used: Hughes, Rose.
Referee: D Elleray (Middlesex).
Booking: Arsenal: Hartson.
Man of the match: Seaman.
Attendance: 33,249.Reuse content