A London Derby is always a game that grabs attention, and yesterday's game was certainly no different.
6th place West Ham hosted 3rd place Arsenal for the final time at the Boleyn Ground. The atmosphere summed up the importance of the game, Arsenal somewhere between finishing top four and going for the title, the Hammers desperate for a place in the top five.
A thrilling first half
After a season of mediocrity for Arsene Wenger's team, the Gunners were finally finding their feet with two consecutive wins and no goals conceded. This was evident in the first 20 minutes of the game. Arsenal took the lead early in the first half, Mesut Özil latching onto a perfectly weighted pass from Alex Iwobi and finishing calmly across goal.
Soon after, Manuel Lanzini was denied a goal after it was ruled as offside by the linesman. However to Bilic's annoyance, replays showed the midfielder was onside. To make matters worse, Arsenal doubled their lead shortly after, another tantalising lobbed ball from Iwobi into the path of Alexis Sanchez, who made no mistake with his finish.
The clock counted down towards half time, and the Hammers seemed in desperate need for a goal...or two. Andy Carroll fired West Ham's first goal of the game beyond the grasp of David Ospina, a trademark powerfully controlled header by the Hammers' number nine. On the stroke of half time, Carroll brought the game level at 2-2, volleying his initial rebounded shot into the net.
Second half sees Arsenal draw level
Shortly after half time, Carroll made his intentions clear as he claimed his hattrick and headed the home side into the lead for the first time in the game. Similar to his first goal, Arsenal seemed incapable to control their box, allowing Carroll to climb high once more.
Arsenal had fallen apart in a matter of minutes either side of the half, at the hands of a goal hungry Carroll. West Ham had another goal disallowed as the hattrick hero held back Laurent Koscielny before Dimitri Payet struck the ball into the net. A correct decision from the officials.
Unfortunately for a determined and committed West Ham side, it was the Arsenal skipper that ended the game in a draw, as he converted Mesut Özil's pulled back pass after the ball took a lucky deflection off Danny Welbeck into the path of the defender. Neither side could grab the crucial seventh goal, and it ended 3-3.
The managers' view
Slaven Bilic expressed his appreciation for the thrilling game in his press conference: "It's a fair result." Bilic added, "It was a great game. One of those games of the season. It was amazing."
The Croatian was subtle when displaying his disappointment with the goal denying decisions of the officials: "I decided really not to talk about the disallowed goals."
His dissatisfaction was made clear as he claimed: "I have been asked about it 5 weeks in a row so I'm not going to talk about it. We should be third in the table, not fourth." A message of clarity from the West Ham United boss.
As for Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager was sure to display his regrets after losing a two goal lead: "We have to look at ourselves." A phrase that the Frenchman has seemed to come familiar with this season, Arsenal's downfall being themselves on many occasions.
Wenger continued to say: "We have made things more difficult for ourselves. We have to stay focused on finishing the best we can." With no talk of his team's title chances, it would be fair to assume that Wenger has perhaps accepted that the title will not remain in London this season. Unless Tottenham Hotspur can catch Leicester City that is.
A disappointing result for both teams, but a six-goal thriller entertaining all. Next up, Arsenal host out of form Crystal Palace at the Emirates, whereas West Ham welcome Manchester United in the FA Cup to settle once and for all which side will go to Wembley.