Carroll hat trick dampens Arsenal title dreams in 3-3 draw
LONDON (AP) West Ham striker Andy Carroll scored an eight-minute hat trick to dampen Arsenal's slim Premier League title hopes in a London derby roller coaster that finally ended 3-3 Saturday.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted the result was a blow to their title aspirations as they tried to put pressure on the two teams above them, Tottenham and Leicester, as the season enters its final stretch.
''It's not where we want to be. We've made it far more difficult for ourselves to have a chance to win the championship. We have to keep going and hope, you never know what can happen. As well, we have to look behind us, clubs are chasing us and we have to be serious and focus on finishing as high as possible,'' he said after the match.
The draw also reduces West Ham's Champions League football chances in their inaugural season at the Olympic Stadium.
Nigerian international Alex Iwobi, starting only his third league match for Arsenal, found Mesut Ozil in the 18th minute, who managed to beat an offside trap and cooly slot past Adrian to open the scoring.
Iwobi was also instrumental in Arsenal's second, his flick bypassing the West Ham defense for Alexis Sanchez to latch onto and score in the 35th.
But West Ham refused to stop pushing forward and were rewarded for their endeavor as a Carroll swooping header met a Aaron Cresswell cross in the 44th minute.
And Carroll drew the score level with a first-half injury time volley after his first effort bounced off Arsenal defender Gabriel.
Carroll, who retains an outside chance to make England's squad for the 2016 European Championships in the summer, rose above the Arsenal defense to head home his hat-trick in the 52nd minute before Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny poked home the 70th-minute equalizer.
Arsenal found the 26-year old-striker unplayable at times as, although already on a yellow-card crunch tackle on Koscielny in the 5th minute, he was lucky to stay on the pitch after his elbow caught Gabriel in the face.
Bilic was full of praise however for his striker, who has missed much of the season through injury.
''Andy Carroll has everything. It's impossible to stop him, his work rate, watch how many times he tried to get the ball off them. He was keeping the ball, laying it off. Heading, he's maybe the best in the world,'' he said.
West Ham could easily have won the match and will be frustrated to have had a Manuel Lanzini goal incorrectly ruled offside in the first half when television replays showed he was played onside by Hector Bellerin, and the Argentine midfielder was convinced he should have been awarded a penalty when the same player bought him down in the box in the second half.
Lanzini also blocked Nacho Monreal off the line in the 68th minute as both teams attacked endlessly in search of the win.
West Ham remains 6th and Arsenal stays third, 10 points behind leader Leicester.