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  • By Yann Tear at London Stadium

It's another big win for Arsenal in quest for top four finish, as Hammers' league dip continues

West Ham (1) 1 Bowen 45

Arsenal (1) 2 Holding 38, Gabriel 55

Arsenal go into the final four games of the season leading Spurs by two points after cashing in – just about - on West Ham’s Europa League preoccupations.

The Gunners led through a Rob Holding header at a corner but quickly surrendered the lead, with the in-form Jarrod Bowen firing in the leveller before the break.

But Gabriel poached a goal at the start of the second half which proved to be the winner.

Having put away Chelsea and Man United in their previous two fixtures, the Gunners were very hopeful of adding another big rival scalp – especially as the Hammers kept Michail Antonio and Tomas Soucek on the bench until late on, ahead of their semi-final return in Frankfurt on Thursday.

This week is a huge one for the Irons, but if the trip to Germany is uppermost in their minds, it did not show and David Moyes’ side started the stronger and had most of the ball.

They came close first when Craig Dawson’s low cross deflected into the path of Manuel Lanzini at the far post but his shot was charged down by Holding.

Declan Rice glided towards the 18-yard line before rolling a low shot at Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal were very slow off the blocks and took an age to threaten.

Finally, Eddie Nketiah took on defenders and slipped a low shot to the left of Lukasz Fabianski that the goalkeeper palmed away for a corner.

From the resulting flag-kick by Bukayo Saka. Holding shrugged off the attentions of Lanzini to plant a header across Fabianski and into the far net.

The Hammers almost drew level immediately from a corner of their own when Rice’s near-post flick required an acrobatic save from Ramsdale.

Bowen got the Irons back on level terms with his 10th league goal of the season. He controlled a pass in from Vladimir Coufal – who Rice had picked out on the right - and planted a left-footer into the far-corner via a slight deflection off Gabriel.

After the break, Fabianski had to get down at his near post to claw away a Saka shot with a strong hand, but a few moments later, Gabriel Martinelli picked up a corner at the far post and crossed for Gabriel to nod home from three yards.

Nketiah should have sealed it for the Gunners on 70 minutes when he was picked out by Mohamed Elneny’s long through ball, but the striker slowed and checked inside before unfurling a shot which flew wide of the far post.

A slip by Coufal gave the Gunners marksman another chance that Fabianski got down low to save.

The Hammers did not go quietly. When Nketiah delayed a West Ham free-kick in injury time – being rightly booked by ref Mike Dean – both Aaron Cresswell and Rice showed their frustration, giving the striker a lengthy piece of their minds.

The next fixture is vital now. Maybe even season-defining. But this one still mattered. It was still a defeat that hurt, and with their lead over Wolves just three points in the fight for the seventh and final European slot for next season, their ropey recent league form could yet spoil what has been a great season.

Hammers: (4-2-3-1) Fabianski – Fredericks, Coufal, Zouma, Cresswell – Rice, Noble (Soucek 77) – Bowen, Lanzini (Antonio 70), Fornals – Benrahma (Yarmolenko 81). Subs not used: Areola, Vlasic, Diop, Masuaku, Kral, Alese

Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale – Tomiyasu (Cedric 77), Holding, Gabriel, Tavares – Odegaard (Lokongo 90), Elneny, Xhaka – Saka (Smith Rowe 87), Nketiah, Martinelli. Subs not used: Leno, Lacazette, Pepe, Kirk, Oulad M’hand, Swanson


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