Bridge nightmare merely adds to Hammers' agony

West Ham United 0 Arsenal 3

If this was Avram Grant's last game as manager here, he left as he arrived, to overwhelming indifference. As West Ham subsided to their 11th defeat in 23 League matches under his command he was neither cheered, nor jeered. The few home supporters who stayed to the final whistle briefly booed the team, but there was no personal animosity directed at Grant. There was even a smattering of applause when he threw his scarf into the dwindling support before heading down the tunnel.

The Israeli subsequently said, somewhat obliquely, that he was going nowhere but it is strongly suggested that he will be relieved of his command imminently. Martin O'Neill leads the contenders to replace him with Martin Jol also linked with the post. Whoever takes over their first task will be to haul West Ham off the bottom and out of the relegation zone.

Then there is a 2-1 lead to be defended in next week's Carling Cup semi-final second leg. Plus, and this may be one reason for the timing of the change, a meeting with the Government regarding ownership of the Olympic Stadium site. The new man must help convince the politicians that the club has a viable financial future, which is much more difficult if they are seen to be Championship-bound.

Grant's long goodbye began in the morning when Sky Sports and the BBC "understood" that he was to be sacked after the match and replaced by O'Neill. The club insisted no announcement would be made on Grant's future before, during or after the match. Vice-chairman Karren Brady said as she left the ground last night: "Nothing has happened. I don't know where these rumours have come from but nothing has happened."

Arsenal remain in third place in the Premier League with two goals from Robin van Persie and one from Theo Walcott. In the circumstances Grant could have done without the ordeal of facing Arsenal missing the team's heartbeat, Scott Parker, who had an ankle injury. Two possible sources of goals, Frédéric Piquionne and Victor Obinna, were also ruled out, with toothache and suspension respectively. Then Mark Noble limped off after 16 minutes to be replaced by the crowd's bête noire, Luis Boa Morte.

By then West Ham were already losing. Wayne Bridge had received an extraordinarily warm welcome, given he was costing £90,000 a week and was a former Chelsea player. Presumably the Boleyn's view was that any enemy of John Terry was a friend of theirs. Bridge, who last played a month ago, had a nightmarish debut and was implicated in every goal. It was from his flank that Arsenal's first goal came. Jack Wilshere fed Walcott on the right and Bridge stood off, allowing Walcott to roll a pass square. Samir Nasri dummied, and Van Persie drove the ball in unchallenged for his 50th Premier League goal.

Four minutes from the break Van Persie, who had struck the post after 31 minutes, was played onside by Bridge as he broke down the left channel. He cut the ball back and Walcott tucked it away. The away fans, as ruthless as their team, sang "You're getting sacked in an hour".

Victory was wrapped up when the hapless Bridge brought down Walcott in the box with 14 minutes left, Van Persie scoring from the spot. Much of the second period had been conducted at walking pace and if the teams meet in next month's Carling Cup final at Wembley, one can only hope it is less one-sided.

Attendance: 32,682

Referee: Andre Marriner

Man of the match: Van Persie

Match rating: 6/10

News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the iWatch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
News
Astronauts could be kept asleep for days or even weeks
scienceScientists are looking for a way to keep astronauts in a sleeplike state for days or weeks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own