Arsenal thrashed West Ham 5-1 on Wednesday night to record their first league win of 2013 and close the gap on the teams above them.
The game became a comfortable one for Arsenal, but it didn’t start out that way. West Ham looked dangerous early on, particularly from set-pieces. Olivier Giroud cleared away from a West Ham corner, but only as far as Jack Collison, who struck the ball fiercely through what was a crowded area and into the Arsenal net.
Arsenal fans were beginning to fear the worst again, but it took them just four minutes to respond. Jack Wilshere found Lukas Podolski in space and the German international smashed the ball past Jaaskelainen from around 25 yards out.
Podolski had the best chance to give Arsenal the lead before the break. Kieran Gibbs squared the ball to Podolski after being set free by Olivier Giroud, but he was off balance and his effort couldn’t get past Jaaskelainen.
West Ham could have stolen the lead just before the break when Bacary Sagna’s header hit Matt Taylor and Carlton Cole then went past Wojciech Szczesny only for both Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey to both have the line covered. The two collided on the line and Vermaelen hurt himself in the process. The ball was cleared from danger though.
Still there was time for the Gunners to nearly snatch a lead going into the break. Santi Cazorla’s fine free-kick nearly crept in, but Jaaskelainen made a fine save and Giroud couldn’t score from the rebound.
Arsenal started the second half looking like they meant business. Straight from the kick-off, Arsenal attacked. Theo Walcott’s low cross nearly went in off of West Ham’s James Tomkins. Kieran Gibbs then saw his cross deflect off a defender for the corner that resulted in Arsenal’s second goal. Walcott whipped the corner in and Giroud was quickest to react to it and found the net in the process. It took Arsenal just 2 minutes of the second half to take the lead.
Five minutes later and they were in again. Some neat passing between Podolski and Giroud had the German striker through on goal. He unselfishly set up Santi Cazorla who cheekily back-heeled the ball past Joey O’Brien and Jaaskelainen into the net.
One minute later and it was 4-1. Podolski broke free on the left hand side and played in Theo Walcott for a simple finish. The Gunners were cruising.
West Ham had barely any time to take it all in. The goals were flying in. Three minutes later and Arsenal were on the attack once more. Podolski was played in on the left again and Podolski provided another low cross, this time Giroud was on the end of it to tap the ball past Jaaskelainen once more.
At this point it could have been anything. Arsenal were at their very best and West Ham looked vulnerable. After the 10 minute flurry of goals, it began to calm down a bit, much to West Ham’s relief.
Sadly, there was a long stoppage in play as West Ham substitute Dan Potts suffered a bad injury in the second half. By the time this had happened West Ham had used all of their substitutes and they had to play on with 10 men. It was a worrying injury as the commentators said he lost consciousness for a while, but later reports suggested he was ok thankfully. 12 minutes were added on at the end of the game due to Potts’ injury. At that point all I cared about was Potts’ well-being. We had won the game, if we added another it would have been nice, but I wanted positive news on Potts and the final whistle.
Arsenal knocked at the door a few times during those last 20 minutes or so, but West Ham defended well and the game lost it’s bite after the injury. West Ham didn’t want to concede another and Arsenal, despite dominating with a man advantage, had the job done and were happy with what they had.
A great performance last night, certainly in the second half anyway. They were better in the first half, but still a worry that it took them until the second half once more to truly show up. Special mention to Lukas Podolski on his performance last night. One stunning goal and three assists as well!. Superb!.
Brighton away in the FA Cup on Saturday. It should be a very entertaining cup tie!.
Final note being that I booked my first tickets of the season last night. I am going to the game against Aston Villa on February 23rd. After Bradford booked their place in the League Cup Final at Villa’s expense, the date of the game was confirmed. Obviously if Villa were in the Final the next day, the fixture would have been rearranged. It will be my first Arsenal game since a League Cup tie against Bolton in October 2011 (that was mostly a reserve team out that day too!). So yes, it will be great to get back to the Emirates. It’s not for the want of trying though. I arranged to go to the Stoke game in the same month and they changed the date to one I couldn’t get to. I then booked tickets for Wigan at home last season and they rearranged the fixture once again to another date I couldn’t do! (I dodged a bullet on that one as we lost 2-1!). I then saved money for my travels to America and of course had my 3 month trip to the States, so Arsenal games couldn’t be attended during that period of course. Since I’ve been back I’ve earned a bit of money from Christmas work and that helped pay for this!. Can’t wait to get back!.