West Ham United 2 Arsenal 2 16th April 2023

Hammers fight back to earn a draw as Saka misses penalty

Hope everyone is safe and well.

Huge apologies for the delay in posting the photos from this match. Ramadan is a very busy time especially in the final days as I spend my night times in prayer and reading and then getting ready for Eid celebrations. I have also been running each night during April to raise money for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital – our youngest boy is under the excellent team there due to his cleft lip from birth. It was a chance to get back to fitness and raise some well needed funds. So far I’ve raised £510 and I ran 57 miles during the month.

But to the football and the Hammers recovery from the 5-1 thumping by Newcastles continues with a well earned draw at the London Stadium against Premier League title hopefuls Arsenal in an entertaining London derby.

So as Ramadan was coming to a close this match sat within the last ten days where Muslims devote themselves to additional prayer and invocations to God seeking answers to our requests and resolve to issues affecting our lives.

As Hammers fans we have been seeking answers ourselves to how the team have struggled so much throughout this season and it seemed we were doomed after a thoroughly miserable thrashing from Newcastle only 11 days before. Surely many fans have been praying for the team to turn it around and start a run of games that would guarantee Premier League survival.

An away win at Craven Cottage and draw at KAA Gent in the Europa Conference League Quarter Final first leg seemed to show some signs of those prayers being answered. Until we found ourselves 2-0 down within 10 minutes as goals from Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard seemed to put leaders Arsenal in a commanding position before fans had the chance to settle in their seats.

But gradually the Hammers started to get back into the game until Paqueta was brought down in the Arsenal box by Gabriel and Benrahma stepped to score from the spot and lead a comeback to haunt Arteta, especially after the 2-2 draw to Liverpool the week before after the Gunners took a similar 2-0 lead.

The title is for Arsenal’s to lose and the team seem to be feeling the pressure as the Hammers worked their way back into a game that looked beyond them within the opening minutes. In fact we could have won this encounter if only for the cross bar to deny Antonio late on in the game.

In a fifth match of 9 in a heavily congested April for us, the Hammers made 8 changes from the side that drew in midweek against Gent as Moyes tries to balance Premier League safety with a desire for European silverware. What would we pray for given these two options? Would it be too much to ask for both? Unlike prayer, our fate is in our own hands and on this performance it feels as if the team are up for the fight.

As Benrahma’s penalty changed the mood of the home fans Arsenal began to struggle in the second half to take back control as the Hammers had opportunities to grab all three points. Antonio’s header was tipped over and Paqueta’s shot over the bar as the team enjoyed a great spell before half time.

The drama continued in the second half as Saka missed a penalty that would have surely taken the game out of the reach of the home side, and then on 54th minute Bowen equalised with an excellent volley that set the game up for a thrilling finale. And it seemed as if Antonio had won it for the Hammers as his header agonisingly bounced off the cross bar in the 81st minute, leaving heads in hands as we saw out a well deserved draw, but feeling as if we should have won this match.

We still have matches to save our season and remain a Premier League side, and if we play like this in the final games then surely we will be more than safe. Still, it won’t do any harm to pray those chances go in next time and we start winning key matches during the closing stages of the season.

Hope you enjoy the photos from the game.

Take care everyone


Published by dawudmarsh

Photographer based in London.

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