West Ham 1-3 Arsenal: Gunners fire-power too much for Hammers
Olivier Giroud bagged his first goal for Arsenal as the Gunners came from behind to beat West Ham 3-1 in a feisty London derby.
Arsene Wenger’s side started the brighter of the two sides but it was West Ham who took the lead as Mohamed Diame cut inside from the left wing to curl in a magnificent opener.
Arsenal responded well and were back on level terms before the break as Lukas Podolski’s cross was met by the incoming Giroud to make it 1-1.
The Hammers had two good chances to re-take the lead through Kevin Nolan but it was Arsenal who grabbed the crucial second as substitute Theo Walcott raced clean through and slotted home expertly.
Santi Cazorla then made sure of the three points as he fired home a spectacular third from 25 yards.
The result means that Arsenal move ahead of West Ham in the table to fifth, with the Irons now lying in eighth.
Sam Allardyce, who has masterminded a number of victories over Arsenal over the years, had Andy Carroll available for selection once again after his return from injury and the England striker caused a number of problems for the Gunners backline throughout.
The on-loan Liverpool forward was required to defend a number of high balls early on, though, as Arsenal dominated the early stages of the game and could have gone ahead were it not for the acrobatics of goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
However, it was West Ham who took the lead as Diame beat Aaron Ramsey far too easily on the left-hand side and found the top corner of Vito Mannone’s net with a fantastic curled effort.
Allardyce’s side then began to exert their influence on the game but it was Arsenal who were to score next as Podolski got down the right wing and swung in an inviting ball which was poked home by Giroud.
West Ham wasted two excellent chances to take the lead in the second half as Carrol headed just wide after beating Mannone to a long ball while Nolan wasted a good chance when put clean through.
Arsenal were always a threat on the break and they eventually made one counter-attack count as Giroud played Walcott in and the England winger made no mistake from 12 yards to make it 2-1.
The game was put to bed just six minutes later as Cazorla’s fine 25 yard drive left Jaaskelainen helpless and ensured Arsenal go into the international break on a high.
Wenger praised his team’s mentality as they came through a tough physical test to claim all three points.
“We weakened a bit physically in the second half but overall it was a very important test for us today. We expected a difficult game,” he said.
“We were not disappointed – a game with a lot of pace, where both teams went for it in different styles. It was a good test mentally as well, because we went 1-0 down with their first shot on goal. You could say that we had a good performance today overall.“
The Frenchman reserved special praise for Cazorla, who was once again outstanding for the Gunners in an advanced midfield role.
“I think he was overall a delight to watch, from the first to the last minute today. He was very influential in our team and it’s fantastic to watch him play,” he added.
Laurence Taylor, Football correspondent