Arsenal 5 – 1 West Ham
Arsenal welcomed West Ham to the Emirates Stadium, looking to bounce back from yet another defeat at the hands of Chelsea. West Ham were sitting comfortably in 12th position, and were looking to take some points off a vulnerable Arsenal side. The Gunners though, had other plans.
The first half contained many positives for Arsenal, yet at the same time, the traditional defensive and offensive flaws were looming larger than ever.
The Gunners were keeping possession well in the opening minutes, with Ramsey & Wilshere sitting behind an active Cazorla, who seemed to be enjoying more time on the ball. Both Giroud & Walcott were making useful runs, and Arsenal were looking dominant.[quote_right]”The Gunners were now toying with West Ham. The football was flowing effortlessly, and The Hammers simply couldn’t handle it.”[/quote_right]
However, West Ham were threatening the Arsenal goal with a number of quick counter attacks, one of which saw a deflected shot dip just over Szczesney’s crossbar. The subsequent corner was cleared by Giroud, but the ball fell to Collison outside the box. Arsenal, as usual, failed to close him down quick enough, allowing him to launch a rocket straight past Szczesney. Typical.
The goal epitomised everything about Arsenal’s defensive woes. An unintelligent defensive header, followed by slow, nonchalant closing down.
Surprisingly though, Arsenal actually seemed reinvigorated by the goal. In recent weeks, conceding early seemed to hit us hard mentally, but today, our midfield trio got their act together, and started creating some actual chances.
Just four minutes after Collison’s stunner, Jack Wilshere played a beautiful short pass to Lukas Podolski, who pushed the ball into space twenty-five yards out, and unleashed a belter into the far corner. Game on.
Arsenal looked like a team full of confidence as they pressed West Ham. Podolski in particular was looking lively off the ball, and Kieran Gibbs was making darting runs forward from the left.
Chances were created, but yet again, the frustrating side of Arsenal’s game reared its ugly head, as each opportunity went begging. As the whistle blew, Arsenal were on top, but still had plenty to do.
The second half truly was a spectacle. Arsenal hit the ground running, and immediately won a corner. Theo Walcott crossed to the near post as Mertesacker backed away, pulling his marker with him. Olivier Giroud then made a fantastic run, and met the ball with a well guided volley which was too hard for the goalkeeper to parry. It was straight off the training ground.
Giroud’s goal kindled an Arsenal wildfire, as Wilshere & Podolski laid siege on the West Ham defence. Podolski played a beautiful one-two with Giroud inside the box, and played the ball to a tightly marked Cazorla in front of goal. The little Spaniard managed to creatively flick the ball into the net. It was an elegantly crafted goal.[quote_left]”The whistle finally blew on West Ham’s demolition. Arsenal, for the first time in weeks, had stamped their authority on the game, and claimed all three points.”[/quote_left]
Less than a minute later, Podolski yet again picked up the ball on the left-wing and played an accurate low cross to Theo Walcott, who had made a surging run towards the back post. Theo took his chance, and slammed the ball into the back of the net. Arsenal were in dreamland.
The Gunners were now toying with West Ham. The football was flowing effortlessly, and The Hammers simply couldn’t handle it.
The final goal arrived in the fifty seventh minute, as Podolski yet again crossed low to Giroud, who guided the ball past Jaaskelainen. Arsenal were now cruising at 5-1, and West Ham were in pieces.
Podolski & Giroud were replaced by Santos & Chamberlain respectively, and the game began to cool. West Ham remained toothless, and the Gunners maintained the dominant side.
A lengthy stoppage due to a mystery injury to Potts saw twelve fruitless minutes of added time, before the whistle finally blew on West Ham’s demolition. Arsenal, for the first time in weeks, had stamped their authority on the game, and claimed all three points.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Bar Collison’s excellent strike, Szczesney had a quiet night between the sticks. Dealt well with a few dangerous crosses.
A positive performance from the out of form Frenchman. Sagna didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy, but managed to get his basics right, for the first time in weeks. Zoomed up and down the wing all game.
Per was relatively untroubled for most of the game, but dealt with all that was thrown his way. Made an excellent decoy run for Giroud’s first goal.
Replaced by Koscielny at half time due to an injury inflicted by Aaron Ramsey. Got his job done, and did well to position himself on the line for what was nearly a West Ham goal. Ramsey’s sliding clearance did the job anyway, but injured our Skipper in the process.
Kieran was bombing down the wing all game, linking up well with Podolski, Cazorla & Giroud. His darting runs and short passes were a real pain for the West Ham defence. Had one opportunity in the first half where he should have shot, but passed instead. Defensively untroubled.
Aaron was back in his favoured central position tonight, and it was reflected in his performance. He had a few intelligent passes intercepted, and did well to distribute the ball to Wilshere & Cazorla throughout the game. His best challenge of the game was unfortunately against our own captain.
Does he ever have a poor game? Wilshere was dominating the midfield yet again today, spraying passes both long and short. His beautiful short pass for Podolski’s goal was great to watch. Proudly wore the armband when Vermaelen was subbed off.
Santi enjoyed more time on the ball today, and managed to settle into the game. his qucik feet and excellent finishing saw him get his goal. Cazorla also played a part in a most Arsenal attacks. However, it must be said that he gave away too many passes, and was easily pushed off the ball.
MOTM. Lukas got three assists and a screamer of a goal. He was making all the right runs, paired with all the right crosses. Everything he touched turned to goald. Ha. See what I did there?
In the first half Theo’s pacy runs were not being found. But Podolski put an end to that in the second period, and Walcott took his chance well. Had other opportunities where he could have done better though.
Olivier put his awful Chelsea performance behind him by bagging a brace tonight. Both goals were elegantly taken with both precision and power. Won a few handy aerial battles and linked up well with Podolski all game.
The Ox: [6.5/10]
Tried his best to get a few shots way, wall of which were poorly executed. He put the effort in at least.
Arsenal needed to pick up all three points following defeat at the hand of Chelsea, and they did that in style tonight. Giroud & Podolski in particular can be proud of their performances. For the first time in weeks, Arsenal looked dangerous in every attack, moving together with real offensive cohesion.
Small defensive errors still need to be eradicated, and with the final week of the transfer window coming up, it will be interesting to see what happens. Next up, Brighton away in the FA Cup. Bring it on.
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Photograph: Guardian – Nick Potts/PA