Arsenal FC 1-0 West Ham United
Arsenal lost their first match at Emirates Stadium as relegation battlers West Ham recorded a shock 1-0 win.
The Gunners had dominated for long spells and should have been out of sight, having created several clear chances early on.
However, the Hammers, inspired by goalkeeper Robert Green, weathered the storm and got themselves in front in first-half stoppage time through Bobby Zamora.
Despite all of their possession from then on, Arsenal could not find a way back into the game and slipped to a third straight Premiership defeat to dent their hopes of Champions League qualification.
While this victory – a third in a row – does not lift the Hammers out of the bottom three, it will have given Alan Curbishley’s men renewed hope they can retain their top-flight status come May, with the gap to safety now two points.
It had been a flying start from Arsenal, and they almost took the lead within 90 seconds.
A flick-on from Tomas Rosicky set Cesc Fabregas into the right side of the penalty area. However, West Ham keeper Green was out quickly and got enough on the ball to deflect it just wide.
The Gunners continued to attack in earnest. Emmanuel Adebayor got away down the left before cutting inside and sending a low, angled shot goalwards which Green held well.
Freddie Ljungberg was pushed forwards in support of the Togo frontman – and set up another golden chance on nine minutes.
The Swede cut the ball back to the penalty spot from the right, only for Adebayor to get under his shot and send it high into the stands.
Arsenal had all the possession, but lacked both a telling pass and killer instinct.
Ljungberg beat the offside trap to latch onto Fabregas’ through-ball. Although he held off Anton Ferdinand, Green was again out quickly to the edge of the box and made a brave block at the feet of the Arsenal man.
There was little respite for the Hammers inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour.
Emmanuel Eboue then put Alexander Hleb away down the right channel. His cut-back from the goalline to the penalty spot fell perfectly into the path of Rosicky – but the Czech midfielder skewed his sidefoot shot wide of the far angle.
West Ham finally saw some of the ball in midfield for a brief spell – sparking cheers of ‘Ole!’ from their travelling fans – and even managed a shot from Lee Bowyer, which was charged down.
The visitors managed to lower the tempo of the match and started to look much more comfortable as the half-hour mark approached.
Green, though, had to be at his reactive best to get down quickly and block a fierce angled drive from Rosicky at the right edge of the area.
Arsenal again enjoyed plenty of possession during the closing stages of the half, but could not find a telling pass in the final third.
They were made to pay during stoppage time when the Hammers snatched a shock lead.
A long ball from Lucas Neill bounced ahead of Kolo Toure and into the path of Zamora. Still 22 yards out, the striker stuck out a boot and sent the ball looping up over Jens Lehmann and into the net.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was clearly less than pleased – and his side left the field to boos from their own fans.
West Ham replaced George McCartney with fellow defender Jonathan Spector at the start of the second half as Tevez dropped back into a wide midfield position.
West Ham, though, refused to lie down. On 53 minutes Zamora knocked the ball back for Bowyer to strike from just outside the Arsenal area and Lehmann made a crucial save.
At the other end, England international Green produced another great stop as he got down quickly to his right to tip a low effort from Gilberto around the post.
The former Norwich man then pulled off a superb one-handed save to push away Adebayor’s bullet from point-blank range after a deep free-kick by Rosicky from the left on the hour.
When Green was beaten by a stunning 18-yard drive from Fabregas – the ball cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.
It was all Arsenal now, with Gilberto the next to head wide from inside the six-yard box.
With 26 minutes left, Curbishley made another change as former Gunner Luis Boa Morte replaced Zamora.
Arsenal sent on Jeremie Aliadiere for Hleb – and the young forward was soon in the thick of the action as his angled drive hit the side-netting.
Arsenal continued to press for an equaliser, but the battling Hammers stood firm, Green saving from Fabregas’ header and Gilberto shaving the far post.
Abou Diaby came on for Gilberto in the 86th minute, but despite all their pressure and four minutes of added time, the goal just would not come and the 4,000-strong travelling fans celebrated a famous victory, which could yet prove priceless.
Report thanks to ESPN Soccernet