Olivier Giroud’s sublime finish and a double from Lukas Podolski gave FA Cup finalists Arsenal a 3-1 win over West Ham at the Emirates Stadium to move back up into the top four of the Barclays Premier League.
Scorers: Arsenal - Podolski (44, 78); Giroud (55); West Ham United - Jarvis (40)
Arsenal welcomed back defender Laurent Koscielny from injury while Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom made his first start since arriving on a deadline-day loan from Spartak Moscow.
West Ham – without captain Kevin Nolan who failed a fitness test – began the game brightly.
After a slow start following their nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out win over Wigan at Wembley on Saturday, the Gunners went behind to a scrappy goal from Matt Jarvis on 40 minutes. However, the German striker Podolski quickly levelled before half-time, with French forward Giroud’s superb take-down and close-range finish putting them in front on 55 minutes.
Another powerful strike from Podolski with 13 minutes left secured all three points which saw Arsene Wenger’s side leapfrog Everton, who host Crystal Palace tonight.
West Ham’s Mohamed Diame fired a good chance over from close range on 18 minutes.
Arsenal’s big chance arrived on the half-hour mark when Spain international Santi Cazorla latched on to a stray pass in midfield and then fed Giroud, who beat the offside trap, but his scuffed finish was saved at full stretch by Adrian.
It proved costly as West Ham went ahead when Jarvis headed in from close range after Antonio Nocerino’s shot was saved at the near post.
Arsenal, though, were level just before half-time as Podolski found the back of the net.
Cazorla collected a poor clearance from Stewart Downing some 30 yards out, and fed Podolski in the left side of the West Ham box.
The German spun his marker before drilling a low shot into the far corner.
French striker Giroud then finally showed the perfect touch to put the Gunners ahead just 10 minutes into the second half. Thomas Vermaelen sent a high ball into the West Ham box, where Giroud held off both Winston Reid and Andy Carroll to take it down with one sublime left-foot touch before rolling his shot between the goalkeeper’s legs.
Adrian was called into action again on 61 minutes when he palmed away a curling free-kick from Podolski before Cazorla shaved the outside of the woodwork after cutting inside following a break down the right.
Arsenal made sure of a crucial victory in the battle for Champions League qualification when Podolski crashed home his second goal of the night with 12 minutes left after a clever knockdown from Ramsey.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Arteta, Kallstrom, Cazorla (Jenkinson 88), Rosicky (Ramsey 72), Podolski, Giroud.
West Ham: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Armero, Noble, Nocerino, Diame, Downing (J Cole 78), Carroll (C Cole 84), Jarvis (Vaz Te 78).