Sam Allardyce declares West Ham's Andy Carroll fit and firing for England duty after Arsenal defeat
West Ham United 1 Arsenal 3
For those new to the Premier League the lessons are hard learned. Even for older hands like Sam Allardyce, forewarned is not necessarily forearmed. "Whenever my teams have won against top teams in the past we have always punished the opposition when we had the opportunity," he said. West Ham's failure to make the most of those chances on Saturday cost them a first home defeat since promotion as Arsenal broke out after seizing possession to score two late goals through Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla with breathtaking counter-attacks.
In punching above his weight for many years at Bolton, Allardyce particularly enjoyed getting under the skin of Arsène Wenger. Yet their pre-match handshake, accompanied by broad smiles, indicated a level of mutual respect, as did Allardyce's praise for the visitors' "fantastic way they move the ball around".
His team had somehow been ahead against the tide of the game with Mohamed Diamé's cleverly scooped shot but conceded at a crucial point just before half-time to Olivier Giroud. Their most dangerous moments tended to involve Andy Carroll, one climb way above the goalkeeper to head George McCartney's cross just wide drawing gasps all round the ground. The managers' mutual admiration extended to Wenger saying: "You can never control Carroll for 90 minutes. He was really up for it."
It was Carroll's first full game for a month but Allardyce, unlike some managers, is happy for his man to play another one in the international break over the next 10 days: "What I will speak to Roy [Hodgson] about is his fatigue level. He should be fine for Friday [against San Marino] and hopefully he will get a game at some stage to improve his match fitness. He's an unbelievable player and can only get better as time goes on. As long as we keep giving him the service, I think he's going to be a tremendous asset."
Wenger could say the same about the dazzling Cazorla. Asked if the Spaniard made Walcott a better player, the Arsenal manager responded: "He makes everybody a better player. It is just a pleasure to watch him and I hope every young football player in England watches him."
Walcott is another Englishman hoping for an opportunity over the weekend, having already declared that his goal, smartly curled between Jussi Jaaskelainen and the near post, was "the way to answer your critics". His follow-up about hoping for "a nice run in the team" may draw a wry smile from Wenger, who continues to use Gervinho and even Aaron Ramsey ahead of him. The unspoken lesson may be that the manager will decide his best position and Walcott should concentrate on making the team.
Goals: West Ham Diamé 21. Arsenal Giroud 41, Walcott 77, Cazorla 83. Subs: WH Taylor (Vaz Te, 63), Tomkins (Demel, 73), Cole (Diamé, 82). Ars Santos (Gibbs, 56), Walcott (Gervinho, 61), Koscielny (Podolski, 85). Booked: WH Diamé, Reid, Taylor. Ars Gervinho, Walcott. Man of match Giroud. Match rating 7/10. Poss: WH 31%. Ars 69%. On target: WH 3. Ars 7. Ref P Dowd (Staffordshire). Att 34,974.
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