Arsenal 5 West Ham 1: Giroud at the double as Wenger's side put Hammers to the sword
21:47 GMT, 23 January 2013
22:15 GMT, 23 January 2013
Arsenal kickstarted their Barclays Premier League campaign as they blew West Ham away with four goals in the space of 10 minutes at the start of the second half to run out 5-1 winners at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners had slumped to successive defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea to leave them facing an uphill battle to regain a place in the top four.
Manager Arsene Wenger knew there was no more margin for error and despite falling behind in tonight's rearranged Boxing Day fixture to a fine strike from Jack Collison, his side found their form, equalising through Lukas Podolski's 25-yard screamer.
Brace yourself: Olivier Giroud scored two goals in ten minutes as Arsenal ran riot at the Emirates
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen (Koscielny 57), Gibbs, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud (Oxlade-Chamberlain 73), Podolski (Andre Santos 70).
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Arshavin, Jenkinson, Frimpong.
Goals: Podolski 22, Giroud 47, Cazorla 53, Walcott 54, Giroud 57.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Tomkins, Reid (Diarra 62), O'Brien, Noble, Nolan, Collison (Potts 62), Taylor, Carlton Cole, Vaz Te (Diame 70).
Subs Not Used: Henderson, Jarvis, Joe Cole, O'Neil.
Booked: Vaz Te.
Goals: Collison 18.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).
Olivier Giroud scored his first goal
in six games to put the hosts in front just after the restart, before
German forward Podolski tore the Irons apart, charging down the left to
set up Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Giroud again as Arsenal romped
out of sight before the hour.
West Ham had to play the closing
stages with 10 men after what looked a serious injury to substitute
Daniel Potts, who was carried off on a stretcher following a clash of
The Gunners now head to Brighton on
Saturday looking to keep alive their FA Cup hopes, before next week's
visit of Liverpool will again put the character of Wenger's squad to the
test if they are to close back within striking distance of Champions
League qualification again.
Arsenal signalled their intent early
on as Walcott made a darting run inside West Ham full-back Joey O'Brien,
but his low centre through the six-yard box was behind the onrushing
Jack Wilshere needed treatment after he was caught on the ankle by West Ham midfielder Collison. The England man, who has just returned to full fitness this season after more than a year out, was soon able to continue.
Unconscious: There were 12 minutes of injury time at the Emirates after a collision involving Danny Potts
On 15 minutes, Walcott was almost
away again down the right, but Winston Reid did just enough to get
across as the England forward shot into the side netting.
At the other end, Matthew Taylor's 20-yard effort was deflected up and on to the roof of the net by Thomas Vermaelen.
Arsenal failed to clear their lines,
and from a second corner on 18 minutes, the ball was headed out to the
edge of the penalty area. Collison took one touch to set himself before
firing a superb strike through a crowd of players and into the bottom
On target: Santi Cazorla popped up with the third goal for Arsenal after 53 minutes
Arsenal produced the perfect response
to level within four minutes. The ball was fed out from Wilshere to
Podolski on the left, some 25 yards from goal. The German promptly
stepped inside before unleashing a blistering low, left-foot strike into
the far corner.
Arsenal soon settled back into their
trademark passing rhythm. A quick one-two down the left through Giroud
and Kieran Gibbs played Podolski in on goal, but his snapshot was hacked
clear by O'Brien.
All smiles: Lukas Podolski equalised for the Gunners after 22 minutes at the Emirates Stadium
West Ham, though, were in again as
half-time approached when a long ball split the defence and fell to
Cole, whose chip was only part-blocked by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech
Szczesny and Aaron Ramsey had to scramble back to boot the ball off the
In stoppage-time, Cazorla's curled
free-kick was heading to the top corner before Irons keeper Jussi
Jaaskelainen clawed it away. Arsenal were ahead just after the restart.
The Irons had been pressed back by a
series of sweeping attacks. Walcott clipped a corner towards the near
post, where Giroud arrived to drill it back past Jaaskelainen for his
first goal since a late double in the 7-3 win over Newcastle on December
Before West Ham could mount a
comeback, it was 3-1 on 53 minutes. Walcott got away down the right,
before the ball was recycled back to the other flank, where Podolski
played a one-two with Giroud before squaring for Cazorla, who rolled in a
Arsenal were flying and immediately
chalked up a fourth on the break inside 60 seconds. Podolski was set
away down the left, charging clear of a stretched West Ham defence
before clipping a perfectly-weighted pass across into the path of
Walcott, who smashed home first time at the far post.
Arsenal, however, were not finished
as Giroud added a fifth on 57 minutes, with Podolski again the provider
following another surging run down the left.
After all the high drama, the tempo
of the match dropped as fast as the temperature. There was a lengthy
stoppage with 18 minutes left as substitute Potts needed treatment after
a clash of heads, eventually taken off on a stretcher, covered with an
emergency blanket in a neck brace and receiving gas. As all had been
changes used, West Ham had to continue with 10 men – through some 12
minutes of stoppage time.