Arsenal played West Ham at home last night in their game in hand in the Premier League. The original game was meant to be played on December 26th but it was postponed due to a tube strike. After taking only one point from a possible nine so far in January it was a game Arsenal just had to win.
There was only one change from the Arsenal team which lost to Chelsea on Sunday. Lukas Podolski came in on the left hand side of the attacking trio with Santi Cazorla reverting to a midfield role and Abou Diaby missing out. Diaby had played three games in a week since his latest return from a long spell of injury and he was probably due a rest for his own good.
Arsenal started in a positive fashion and looked up to the task early on. They had to be wary of the threat from West Ham at set pieces though as they looked to put the Arsenal defence under aerial pressure when ever they could. There were a few scary moments for their defence as the ball bounced around in their area.
Just short of twenty minutes West Ham took the lead and it was from a corner. When the ball came in Olivier Giroud headed it clear but it fell to the unmarked Jack Collisson on the edge of the penalty area. He blasted his shot from 20 yards through a crowd of players and Wojciech Szczesny had no chance.
That old familiar feeling of Arsenal falling behind in the first half reared it's ugly head again and at that point I was worried. The Arsenal players went forward with more purpose straight from the kick off though and it didn't take long for them to get back in the game.
Jack Wilshere laid the ball off to Podolski 30 yards out from the West Ham goal and he decided to have a pop. As with West Ham's goal he wasn't closed down quickly enough and his effort flew past the keeper. It was an absolute pile driver and just what Arsenal needed at that point.
As the half wore on they tried to get the goal to put them in front, but the final ball was just lacking on a few occasions. West Ham came very close towards half time but Ramsey managed to get back and clear off the line after Carlton Cole had clipped the ball over Szczesny. It was a very close escape for Arsenal and West Ham were to pay a heavy price later on.
Arsenal tried in vain to score before the break, but there were some encouraging signs. Despite West Ham's aerial dominance Arsenal were finding space in wide positions and both Podolski and Theo Walcott looked very dangerous. I hoped Arsenal would step it up after the break like they seem to have done in every game for quite a while now.
I wasn't disappointed as Arsenal came out of the traps like a team possessed. Walcott went on a surging run straight from the kick off and West Ham only just managed to stop Arsenal scoring. From the resulting corner Giroud made a great near post run to volley home after Walcott delivered it perfectly to him. Arsenal had the lead they wanted and I was a little stunned to see an obviously pre planned move from a corner actually pay off.
Arsenal continued to pile forward and they were playing far too well for West Ham to cope with. It didn't take long for the third goal to come and it really was a thing of beauty.
A great Arsenal move ended with Cazorla flicking the ball into an empty net after the ball was cut back to him by Podolski . The ball rolled slowly over the line as West Ham players looked on in vain knowing the game was all but lost for them. Arsenal sensed the fear and went for the kill immediately.
Within a minute it was 4-1 to Arsenal and it was that man Podolski who made it yet again. He was having a field day on the left and this time it was Walcott who finished his cross. Arsenal looked like they could go on to score plenty more with the West Ham defence in disarray.
Three minutes later it was 5-1 when Podolski again cut it back from the left for Giroud to get his second goal of the game. Second half Arsenal had shown up in a big way and West Ham simply couldn't cope with the pace they were playing at. In 10 short minutes they had scored four goals and it seemed a matter of how many more they would get.
The pace dropped a little after that with the hard work done and the three points secured. When Daniel Potts fell badly after a mid air collision with Bacary Sagna the game was stopped for 10 minutes as he received treatment. He was knocked out and it took a while to get him on a stretcher and off to hospital.
Apparently he got a concussion and I know the feeling . It will be a while before he can play again but he should make a full recovery I would imagine. I got concussion playing football myself last year and it was 10 weeks before I was allowed to play again.
A few substitutions were made by Arsenal and their game lost a little momentum. West Ham had already used all their subs and had to play the rest of the game with 10 players. They set out to keep the score respectable and they just about managed to do so.
Arsenal didn't over extend themselves but both Cazorla and Wilshere stayed on which I found a little surprising. With so many games coming so quickly I thought that the opportunity should have been taken to give them both a breather. There weren't too many midfield options on the bench though which could be why they both stayed on.
As it turned out the players to come off were Thomas Vermaelen, Podolski and Giroud. Vermaelen had picked up a knock and I would imagine he was taken off as a precaution. It's hard to understand why the other two were taken off though.
Maybe Podolski was feeling the effects of his recent illness, but surely Giroud should have been given the chance to complete his hat trick. They are only minor gripes though in a night which delivered exactly what Arsenal needed. Their first league win in four games was very welcome and the manner of their play at the start of the second half was outstanding.
The games are coming thick and fast now but hopefully that win will give the team the confidence it needs to go on a winning streak. An FA Cup victory over Brighton followed by victories at home to Liverpool and Stoke in the league would be a great return from the next nine days. It won't be easy with such a small pool of players to choose from but the team showed last night that they are capable of it.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.