Visitors Get Hammered by Five-Star Arsenal
January had begun on a sad note for everyone connected with Arsenal Football Club. The team’s performance against Southampton was appalling, and the back to back losses against Manchester City and Chelsea weren’t anything to write home about.
The second half performances against Chelsea and Manchester City were pretty much encouraging but it was a case of what might have been as the insipid first half outings proved to be the Gunners undoing.
A response was badly needed against a West Ham side renowned for their doggedness. With the Gunners languishing in sixth place behind Tottenham and Everton, a win against Big Sam Allardyce’s goons would put Arsene Wenger’s side within touching distance of that Champions League spot.
Arsene Wenger opted to rest Abou Diaby, allowing Aaron Ramsey to come in his stead. Lukas Podolski returned to the lineup, allowing Santi Cazorla to move to his advanced playmaker role.
Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead when Jack Collison rifled in a shot through a pile of bodies after a somewhat poor clearance from Giroud.
Jack Wilshere did well to fashion a chance for Podolski that wasted no time in blasting the ball past Jussi Jaaskelainen in goal. Podolski had a chance to put Arsenal on the ascendancy but his tame shot from a Kieran Gibbs pass was easy pickings for the goalie.
Arsenal began the second half in a somewhat frantic pace and they managed to blitz West Ham with four unreplied goals in the space of just 10 minutes. Olivier Giroud’s off the ball movement has been a major highlight of his fledgling Arsenal career thus far and it was on show again as the Frenchman evaded his marker to tap Theo Walcott’s short corner in.
Cazorla located Walcott with another trademark pin-point pass and the Englishman did really well to evade his marker. With only Giroud to aim at in the box, Walcott drilled in a cutback but it was blocked by the West Ham rearguard.
The third goal epitomized everything Arsenal stood for – technique, panache and precision. Wilshere was in the thick of things yet again as he teed up Podolski. The German Machine combined with Giroud a la Montpellier but instead of blasting the ball past Jaaskelainen, he passed the ball to Cazorla that guided the ball home with a deft touch.
Wilshere sent an inch-perfect pass in behind the West Ham defense to Podolski that looked up before drilling a pass that was latched home by Walcott. That was his 16th of the season, justifying all the hype around him lately.
The rout was completed when Wilshere combined with Podolski again that launched the ball to the near post. Giroud showed off his sharpness again to attack the ball first scoring his second of the night.
Thomas Vermaelen picked up a knock in the first half and was replaced by Laurent Koscielny. West Ham offered no threat in attack whatsoever, but they had a rare foray forward when Mark Noble dinked a through ball for Ricardo Vaz Te but the winger was flagged offside.
Andre Santos came on for Podolski that earned a standing ovation and shortly afterwards, Giroud was denied a chance to get a hat-trick when he was replaced by the Ox.
There was a moment of concern when West Ham substitute, Daniel Potts, suffered an injury that brought the stadium to a standstill. It took the best part of 10 minutes but the medical staff did their bit to bring him back to consciousness.
The injury suffered by Potts took the sting out of the game and it was played with a very slow pace henceforth. Wilshere let one rip from distance while Cazorla had some half chances as well.
As expected, Arsene Wenger was in a buoyant mood in his post-match interview, talking about the performance of the team and the outstanding Lukas Podolski.
All in all, it was a great day in the office for a five-star Arsenal.
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