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?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project