EPL round-up: Carroll hat-trick holds Arsenal

Andy Carroll's hat-trick dented Arsenal's title hopes.

West Ham United striker Andy Carroll scored an eight-minute hat-trick, but Laurent Koscielny snatched a point for Arsenal in a memorable 3-3 Premier League draw on Saturday.

Goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez had Arsenal cruising, but Carroll scored twice late in the first half and his third seven minutes after the break looked like giving the hosts victory until Koscielny intervened.

For all the excitement, a point apiece did neither side much good, with West Ham still outside the top five and Arsenal now 10 points behind league leaders Leicester City with six games of the season remaining.

Elsewhere, Aston Villa slumped to a 2-1 defeat against Bournemouth, Crystal Palace edged past Norwich 1-0 thanks to a glorious goal from Jason Puncheon and Swansea City claimed an impressive first Premier League win against Chelsea.

Second-bottom Newcastle United appear increasingly doomed after a wretched 3-1 defeat at Southampton left Rafael Benitez’s side six points from safety with six games to play.

What did you make of Saturday’s Premier League action? Tweet us your thoughts using #360Fans.

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Keys and Gray: West Ham will cause Arsenal problems

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Top performer: Dimitri Payet.

Arsenal, tipped by many to win the EPL title this season, have been overshadowed by Leicester and Tottenham and on Saturday face a difficult game at another overachieving team in West Ham, who are locked in a battle for a place in the top four.

Andy Gray and Richard Keys who front beIN Sports’ Premier League coverage discuss West Ham’s impressive progress and the other games in what could be a pivotal weekend.

ANDY GRAY: Slaven Bilic took over at West Ham from Sam Allardyce, who was not best loved by the fans, but did a brilliant job for them.

Bilic inherited what Allardyce built and has moved it on to a new level. He has brought players into the squad who have delivered in style, no more so than Dimitri Payet who is certainly in the frame for Player of the Year. They’ve had a lot of injuries but players have stepped up to the plate and Bilic has given them the confidence and self belief to go and express themselves.

The Croat gives his team more freedom in the way he wants them to play than Allardyce did and you can see they are really enjoying it.

West Ham’s season isn’t all about Payet though. From back to front they have been impressive. Aaron Cresswell has been excellent in defence, goalkeeper Adrian has shown how important he is to them, Cheikhou Kouyate in midfield has been consistently good and Mark Noble has probably had his best season ever. And who would have thought Michail Antonio would come from Nottingham Forest and have the impact he has had in the last three months? He was an inspired signing.

Apart from a spell when Payet was injured and they struggled to find a win the Hammers have been pretty consistent. They have drawn a lot of their matches and had they been able to nick a couple of more wins who knows where they might be sitting right now.

They will keep pushing on now but can they nick a Champions League place this season? Top six, yes, but I think top four is going to be out of their reach but that doesn’t mean they can’t make life difficult for teams like Arsenal.

The Hammers have got a big FA Cup replay coming up next week against Manchester United so they might not be at full throttle on Saturday, particularly as there is a little cushion between them and Southampton in the league.

However, one thing you can say about Bilic is that he commits to every game and I am sure he will put out a strong side to take on Arsenal who really need all three points.

Because of West Ham’s good home record I think this will finish 1-1.

RICHARD KEYS: I am surprised that West Ham are so high in the league at this stage and I admire what Bilic has managed to achieve.

Payet was a stunning piece of business. Looking at his free-kick conversion rate, he puts 25 percent of them into the back of the net. I think Payet takes as good a free kick as I have ever seen, apart from perhaps David Beckham against Greece. The one he scored last week almost defied science.

In my opinion there are still playing the way they did under Allardyce; they still hit more long balls than anyone else in the Premier League but obviously Bilic has done a fantastic job.

It is a difficult club to manage because everyone behind the scenes, from David Gold to David Sullivan and Karren Brady, has an opinion they are not shy of sharing and sometimes that is not very helpful.

There are certain clubs where if the manager played for them it definitely helps and I think that is part of why Bilic has been so impressive. He knows from his playing days there what the club is about and what is expected.

What I really like about him is the way he has gone after the FA Cup. It’s obviously a competition Bilic cherishes, and he has never done anything else other than play his strongest team, and I would love to see them win it for that reason.

West Ham fans will never have a place in their hearts for Allardyce the way they have for Bilic but they should because he saved their football club. This wouldn’t be happening now if it wasn’t for Allardyce. If they didn’t like him, fine, but let’s not dismiss what he did for them.

Arsenal will find it tough but they must win this or they can kiss goodbye to their already slim hopes of winning the title.

There were signs last week against Crystal Palace that West Ham are tiring a little bit but having said that they are quite capable of beating Arsenal. However, I think the Gunners will take all three points, only because they can’t afford not to. 1-2.

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Payet's West Ham highlights

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Dimitri Payet has been one of West Ham's star players.

Payet, 29, has scored 11 goals and created a superb 221 chances from midfield to take the Premier League by storm this year.

Can Arsenal stop the France international?










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