Arsenal bounced back from their back to back defeats in the league by producing a scintillating attacking display against West Ham to record the first win in the Premier League in 2013 in emphatic fashion. It was the sort of display which they so desperately needed having looked lacklustre and below par against Chelsea and Man City. The game started with a high tempo with both teams creating early chances which suggested it would be a close game. Arsenal started brightly and signalled their intent with an early opportunity created by Walcott dashing run inside West Ham full back, Joey O’Brien, but his low centre through ball pass was behind the on rushing Giroud. Walcott looked bright again on 15 minutes when he was almost away on the right-wing, but Winston Reid read his run and did just enough to get across to ensure his shot went into the side netting. In the early exchanges Theo Walcott showed glimpses of why Arsenal were so intent on penning him to a new contract.
West Ham were also showing glimpses of threat on the other end as Matthew Taylor’s 20 yard shot was deflected harmlessly up and onto the roof of the net by Thomas Vermaelen. West Ham were beginning to look dangerous as Arsenal failed to clear their lines from a second corner on 18 minutes, the ball fell nicely on the edge of the box for Collison who took one touch to set himself up before firing a clean and superb strike through the crowd of players and into the bottom of Arsenal’s net. West Ham pressure had paid off and Arsenal frailties at the back on set pieces were exposed again. It was the third successive game which Arsenal had conceded first.
Arsenal didn’t let their heads fall and produced the perfect response to conceding the early goal and were level again within just four minutes. The ball was fed perfectly from Wilshere out wide to Podolski on his left, 25 yards out from goal, the German stepped inside before unleashing a blistering bullet with his left foot straight into the far corner of the net. It was a sublime finish by the German. It calmed Arsenal’s nerves and they soon settled back into their rhythm again with their trademark passing. A quick one two down the left through Giroud and Gibbs played the German in on goal again, but this time his weaker shot was cleared away by O’Brien.
As half time approached Arsenal were caught out again by West Ham when a long ball slit the defence open and fell kindly to Carlton Cole feet, whose chip was partly blocked by Wojciech Szczesny and the rushing Aaron Ramsey had to scramble back to clear the ball of the line. Arsenal were beginning to live dangerously again. In the final moments of first half stoppage time Arsenal won a cheap free kick which was perfectly placed just on the outside of the box. Cazorla’s curled shot was heading to the top corner before Irons keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen clawed it away. The Gunners went into half time level but the team back in the driving seat.
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