Arsenal went down early only to level and then basically dismantle West Ham in the second half on the counterattack. Three points, game in hand complete, next level, get ready.
Arsenal took all three points in emphatic fashion today at the Emirates, putting 24 shots in against West Ham's 10 and putting the game out of sight with a flurry early in the second half and leaving Jussi Jaaskelainen a little resigned to his fate. The match started out with an Arsenal move that left Lukas Podolski staring at Kieran Gibbs in disbelief before Santi Cazorla shot well over the bar. As with Sunday, Arsenal's early profligacy would resolve itself into falling behind, as West Ham earned a corner that Olivier Giroud cleared to the unmarked Jack Collison at the top of the 18. Collison's shot, a good hard low one, found its way between Arsenal players and just beyond the reach of Wojciech Szczesny. 1-0 to the visitors.
West Ham's lead lasted about as long as one Beyonce syllable (approximately three minutes--zing, Beyonce lovers!), because Arsenal just kept attacking, and Podolski had had enough. Receiving a tricky high pass from Jack Wilshere 25 yards from goal, he teed it up for himself, said "screw it", hit it about as hard as he could, and watched as the ball stayed two feet off the ground the whole way just inside of the far post. 'Twere a laser, and 'twere all square again.
Arsenal kept coming through the halftime whistle, with the occasional West Ham threat from set pieces (Ricardo Vaz Te heading over the bar after being left totally unmarked). The second half, though, would basically be a tidal wave of Gunners.
From a corner in the 47th minute, Theo Walcott's low near post delivery seemed initially awfully silly, until one realized that Per Mertesacker had sprinted away from that spot, dragging his marker and scraping the marker of Olivier Giroud clean off of the Frenchman, leaving Giroud alone to run onto the now foot-high corner kick and turn it home off of Jaaskelainen.
Man marking, eh? 2 - 1.
Forward Arsenal came. Lukas Podolski, who basically had the freedom of the left flank all game long, found Cazorla with a cutback after a counterattack, which the Spaniard turned home behind his defender and Jasskelainen with his trailing foot. Not too shabby of a finesse finish. 3 - 1. Another blazing counter up the left saw Podolski put an early low cross towards the far post, where Walcott ran onto it and smashed it home. 4 - 1. Three minutes later, Podolski decided to get a third assist up the left, cutting it back for Giroud, whose clever far post finish nearly matched Cazorla's from four minutes earlier.
5 - 1.
Arsenal kept coming, but no more goals were on their way. The only other incident of note came as Daniel Potts sustained a concussion in a duel with Bacary Sagna in the 71st minute (as of this writing he is at a hospital overnight for observation) and was on the floor for ten minutes receiving treatment. Hopefully he is okay and back with the Hammers soon.
On to Saturday, Brighton, and the FA Cup 4th Round.