Hartson's swift end to hostilities
West Ham 0 Arsenal 1 (Hartson 2) Attendance: 24,217
Sunday 25 February 1996
Released from kennels for the first time since 6 January because of Ian Wright's hamstring injury, he popped in a goal within two minutes and went on to harry West Ham to such good effect that an addition to their five successive Premiership victories rarely looked likely.
Hartson's belligerent attitude even extended to an early challenge on Julian Dicks severe enough to earn a booking. Arsenal are not Dicks's favourite opponents: sent off at Highbury when West Ham lost in September, he passed up an opportunity to equalise at an important stage of the game yesterday by missing a second-half penalty.
Arsenal, even without Tony Adams and Steve Bould, defended with their old cussedness to record a fifth win in six visits to Upton Park. On a pitch too sticky for their passing game, West Ham relied on Iain Dowie's aerial ability. His header two minutes from time appeared to have saved the match, but a linesman's flag said otherwise.
West Ham lacked width, especially down the right, which John Harkes could not provide on his own from full-back as Danny Williamson and Michael Hughes were preoccupied by the elusive Paul Merson. "We gave them a terrible, diabolical goal," Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, said. "Julian was suffering from double vision when he took the penalty, his left foot is normally like radar."
Harkes, who was responsible for Arsenal taking the lead, could not blame the pitch for the casual nudge back towards his goalkeeper that Merson collected, eluding Steve Potts and picking out Hartson.
The home team's response did not bear the stamp of a side in form, such troublesome moments as there were for David Seaman tending to stem from mishit crosses rather than anything more purposeful.
Despite Arsenal's two cup defeats and only one victory in six previous games, there was not a hint of anything resembling panic in their manager Bruce Rioch's approach to the game. Hartson's inclusion was the only change following Wednesday's Coca-Cola Cup semi-final disappointment, with Martin Keown, Andy Linighan and Steve Morrow retained in the centre of defence.
Not until half-time was anything altered, David Platt coming off the substitutes' bench to replace David Hillier, who had strained a calf. His initial duties were defensive as West Ham piled forward in the rain.
The penalty was awarded, without significant protest, as Dowie played the ball in for Tony Cottee, who was bundled over by Keown. Seaman fell to his left to parry Dicks' kick and held the follow-up from Harkes, who soon made way for Dani, but this was not a day, or a pitch, for subtle Latin skills.
Latest in Sport
Norwich 2 Liverpool 3 match report: Liverpool go five points clear of Chelsea at top of Premier League table on day Luis Suarez hits goal number 30
Jose Mourinho: Graceless reaction of Chelsea manager a sad effort to hide his own flaws
Luis Suarez and the 'Easter miracle': Liverpool striker shows both sides as he reaches 30 Premier League goals but play acts yet again
David Moyes says Manchester United passed 'brilliantly', despite 2-0 defeat to Everton
Liverpool: Three remaining fixtures - can they remain on top of the Premier League table?
- 1 Disabled people are trapped in assessment 'nightmare' by PIP benefits regime, says Dr Stephen Duckworth
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Queen turns 88: David Bailey captures another side of the Queen in birthday portrait
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
An open letter to Nigel Farage: you may smile, but I am not seduced
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...