Arsenal defeated West Ham 3-1 United at Upton Park today and won their first Premier League match in their last five appearances, moving back to the top of the Premier League table — at least for a couple of hours, depending on the result of the Manchester City-Liverpool match.
Both teams started aggressive with high back-lines and, in turn, each side had plenty of opportunities to get on the scoreboard but both were unsuccessful. In the fifth minute, the Hammers were given a free kick but Carlton Cole’s first touch could not take advantage of the chance. West Ham again had a free kick in the 10th minute on the left of the box and Mark Noble took an excellent attempt that Wojciech Szczesny had to come off his line to challenge. Unlike Monday’s match, Arsenal was able to utilize their slick passing strategy and had plenty of situations where a goal should’ve been the result but could not get it done. In the 28th minute, Aaron Ramsey delivered an excellent ball to Theo Walcott but the Englishman’s shot went wide. Four minutes later, Mesut Özil dropped off the ball to Santi Cazorla and his shot from about 20 yards out went just over the far-post.
Minutes later, Özil again presented a gift of a ball to Olivier Giroud but he failed to finish. In the 38th minute, center-back James Collins was taken out of the game after an apparent leg injury and was replaced by left-back Razvan Rat. As the first half was ending, Giroud could not finish two great crosses from Özil and Kieran Gibbs. West Ham had a free kick opportunity but Szczesny made himself big leaving his line and Noble’s shot went wide right as halftime was called afterwards.
Cole scored 47 seconds into the second half off a rebound that Szczesny could not hold onto to up the home side up 1-0. In the 53rd minute defender Joey O’Brien made a mysterious run and almost headed in a goal off Mohamed Diame’s ball, but it went wide left. The Hammers had another opportunity to increase their lead moments later off an excellent cross from Rat but Cole nervously shot the ball wide right. The first substitution in the second half occurred in the 63rd minute when O’Brien was replaced by Guy Demel and two minutes later Ramsey was replaced by Lukas Podolski after an apparent thigh injury. Podolski made his first appearance since his injury in August and was the spark the Gunners needed to take charge of the match.
Arsenal equalized in the 68th minute when Walcott drifted from the right off a Cazorla pass and shot straight at goalkeeper Adrián but it went through his arms and into the back of the net. The Gunners took the lead three minutes later off a Podolski cross that defender James Tomkins deflected and Walcott finished with a header. In the 75th minute, Sam Allardyce made a tactical decision to replace Kevin Nolan with Matthew Taylor but four minutes later, Giroud held onto a cross and laid the ball for Podolski to finish with his left foot to seal the fate of the match.
West Ham will seek redemption as they host West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and Arsenal will travel to Newcastle on Sunday and continue their campaign to contend for the league title.
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