Arsenal hosted London side West Ham United in a midweek Premier League fixture on a chilly Wednesday evening. The last meeting between these two sides ended in a 1-3 away victory for Arsenal in October. A remarkable number of empty seats were visible across the Emirates stadium, accentuating the views of fans towards Arsenal’s disappointing recent results.
The first half got underway with Arsenal immediately finding their stride. The rhythmic midfield constantly pressed forward, making it virtually impossible for West Ham to keep the ball out of their own half. English midfielder Wilshere was fouled during the early stages of the game. It required medical attention as he appeared unstable. To Arsenal’s delight, he soon returned to the pitch and sprinted down the centre to set up Walcott who took the first shot on target. It was deflected by West Ham’s defence, yet it went out for a controversial goal kick.
West Ham disrupted Arsenal’s show by presenting their venomous attempts on goal as a deflection from Taylor missed the top of Arsenal’s net by a few centimetres. Despite Arsenal’s possession dominating and enticing football, a sensational goal from Collison during the 18th minute put the away side 1-0 up. This tested Arsenal’s ability to respond.
The Gunners displayed their fighting spirit and determination which was soon rewarded with a flabbergasting goal minutes later. The shot, struck with sheer power and accuracy from Podolski, hammered into the bottom right corner of West Ham’s goal. It was a come-back with distinction. The German’s much needed addition to Arsenal’s squad commonly results in goals which make Robin Van Persie‘s absence somewhat endurable. The first half at the Emirates ended at a respectable 1-1.
Carlton Cole started the second half with the ball whiskers away from creeping into Arsenal’s net. The ball was cleared off the line by Ramsey who injured captain Veramelen in the process. The following free kick from Cazorla hit the post and bounced down to Giroud who still failed to find the target even after several attempts. However, the French striker redeemed himself with a goal in the 47th minute, allowing the Gunners to take the lead for the first time during the game. The goal scoring didn’t stop there, as Cazorla added his name to the score sheet with a back-heel finish which was assisted by Podolski. 60 seconds later, Walcott added a fourth Arsenal goal into the mix, proving the criticality of his contact extension.
These strings of goal scoring opportunities were put to a hold as West Ham player Potts received a lengthy treatment on the pitch. The game eventually resumed during the 85th minute. Giroud dismissed any attempt of a comeback for West Ham and sealed the deal with a fifth for Arsenal. West Ham failed to produce any more goals despite 8 added minutes.
The three points leave Arsenal in the sixth spot of the Premier League table, and 4 points from securing a Champions League spot. This performance may have been a relief, but all are aware that consistency is the main requirement in such a competitive league; a factor which Arsenal have shown to find particularly challenging.Published 25 Jan 2013, 00:57 IST