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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?