Gunners burst the Hammers bubble
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal faced another London derby with the re-arranged fixture against West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium which was moved a month later after the postponement of the game on Boxing Day which gave the Gunners a chance to pick up points with their game in hand to resurrect the challenge for a top four finish. On eighteen minutes, the Irons went ahead when from Matthew Taylor’s corner, a failed clearance by Olivier Giroud fell into the path of Jack Collison, who from outside the box powered the ball into the heart of the goal with a thunderous strike. But the lead was short lived as the Gunners struck back midway through the first half with a sterling effort by Lukas Podolski as he latched onto Jack Wilshere’s lay off before launching the ball into the right hand corner with a venomous shot. Podolski could have added a second in the thirty fifth minute but his goal bound effort was kept out by a lunging clearance by Joey O’ Brien. Then it was Arsenal’s time to track back as Aaron Ramsey and Gunners captain Thomas Vermaelen covered the goal line to prevent Carlton Cole’s strike going in but as Vermaelen hooked the ball clear, he picked up an injury. On the stroke of half time, a needless push by Kevin Nolan on Santi Cazorla gained the Gunners a free kick on the edge of the area which Cazorla took and curled towards the top corner which was kept out by Jussi Jaaskelainen’s agility and as Giroud tried to follow up the rebound, his effort was blocked by O’ Brien. It was the perfect start for Arsenal in the second half as two minutes in, Giroud converted a Theo Walcott corner by firing home with a low footed volley to give the Gunners the upper hand. The initiative was with Arsenal as Winston Reid hooked the ball away from line after Walcott’s incisive play as he went through on goal in the fifty first minute. But Arsenal went 3-1 up two minutes later as Giroud put the ball into Podolski, who found Cazorla unmarked and he back heeled the ball over O’ Brien on the line. Three then became four as Wilshere supplied Podolski, whose delivery found Walcott, who thrashed the ball home. If that wasn’t enough, the Gunners added a fifth on fifty seven minutes, when from Wilshere’s pass, Podolski put the ball over for Giroud to score from close range. In a defensive switch Laurent Koscielny replaced Vermaelen. It was damaged limitations for the Hammers as they brought on Alou Diarra for Reid and Daniel Potts took over from Collison. Further changes saw Arsenal bring on Andre Santos for Podolski while the Hammers switched Ricardo Vaz Te for Mohammed Diame before Giroud was taken off for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. A lengthy delay to treat Potts after a head clash with Bacary Sagna, compounded the Hammers misery as Potts had to be stretchered off. After the game re-started, Jaaskelainen was forced into a save to keep out Wilshere’s well struck effort on eighty four minutes before twelve minutes of stoppage time was added. It was to end with Arsenal resounding 5-1 victors to put them back amongst the chasing pack for the Champions League qualification places.