Arsenal 3 (Giroud 45, Ramsey 81, Flamini 84) – West Ham United 0
Man of the Match – Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)
Arsenal kept up the momentum of their recent crest of form, with a 5th consecutive Premier League win over West Ham. Having knocked out Manchester United from the FA Cup, there were changes in the starting lineup. David Ospina returned in goal, while Aaron Ramsey came in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Callum Chambers for Hector Bellerin, and Theo Walcott, starting his first game in a month; and Olivier Giroud replacing Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla.
West Ham, who had a wretched February, hadn’t won a game since 25th January, when they knocked Bristol City out of the FA Cup, with a scoreline of 1-0. Since then they lost 2-0 to Liverpool, drew against Manchester United and Southampton, got thumped 4-0 by West Brom, drew with Sp*rs and suffered consecutive home losses to London neighbours Crystal Palace and Chelsea.
They almost got off to the worst possible start, with Arsenal threatening in the 5th minute, through a fantastic move. Mesut Ozil played into Olivier Giroud after Arsenal had worked their way down the right. The Frenchman flicked it to Walcott, who took way too much time, and was eventually tackled, when he had the time to take a shot on target. Replays showed that it in fact should have been a penalty. James Collins didn’t get anywhere close to the ball.
Like most visiting teams at the Emirates, West Ham got stuck in their own half, trying to narrow down space for Arsenal. Spanish goalkeeper Adrian was forced into a save from Alexis Sanchez, after a cross from Callum Chambers. Senegalese striker Diaffra Sakho almost got away once, but for a fine interception by Francis Coquelin. A free-kick from Mesut Ozil required some alert defending from West Ham, while at the other end, West Ham managed to get the ball down Arsenal’s left, and a fine save from David Ospina was required to keep out a volley from Kevin Nolan.
Arsenal were creating more chances. Giroud’s 23rd minute shot went just wide. And then Aaron Ramsey missed after a Chambers crossed came to him at an awkward height. The Welshman could only force a save from Adrian, who managed to ward the ball away from underneath the bar. Ramsey then created a chance for Walcott, but the pacy Englishman showed signs of rustiness, as Adrian saved easily. Adrian then saved a volley from Alexis, who had been set up by Ramsey. Sakho was causing problems for Arsenal, with his pace, but failed to carve out anything substantial.
Walcott then missed an easy chance to put the Gunners into the lead, when he kept the ball alive on the right, and played it to Ozil, who returned the ball back to Walcott, but he couldn’t convert with the goal at his mercy. Arsenal struck immediately after.
Ozil and Giroud combined well, before the latter laid the ball off for Ramsey, before collecting the ball again, cutting inside from a West Ham defender, before unleashing a powerful shot into the top corner. It was a beautiful strike for the Frenchman and a deserved lead at the break for Arsenal.
Arsenal almost conceded a goal at the start of the second half, when he spilled a cross from Sakho. Luckily, for the Colombian, the danger was averted. West Ham seemed like a different team in the opening stages of the second half, as the saw little more of the ball. Matt Jarvis fired over from a corner. And then, there was a change. Anthony Taylor replaced the injured referee Chris Foy, not something that you would get to see often these days.
The hero at Old Trafford, Danny Welbeck then replaced Alexis, before Arsenal missed another chance to go ahead due to indecision. Ozil engineered a move in the centre, and it came back to the German. Instead of taking a shot, he crossed to Walcott, before Ramsey’s wayward shot ended up wide. West Ham were looking for an equalizer, which gave Arsenal plenty of space to run into.
The pacy duo of Welbeck and Walcott almost combined, before Walcott was taken off for Cazorla in the 72nd minute. With Arsenal looking to close the game with a second goal, a brilliant last ditch tackle from James Collins denied Aaron Ramsey a clear goal. It didn’t take long though for Arsenal to seal the game and 3 points.
Arsenal got a throw on the right hand side, Giroud cleverly left it for Ramsey, played a 1-2 with the Welshman, who slotted past a cool left-footed finish to make it 2-0. It was a cleverly worked goal, and soon, Arsene Wenger bought off Mesut Ozil for Mathieu Flamini. Arsenal involved in some intricate play between West Ham defenders, before a cross from the left via Cazorla allowed Mathieu Flamini to easily score Arsenal’s 3rd goal of the evening.
3 more important points, and 3 goals ahead of a tough Champions League 2nd Leg clash with Monaco, where Arsenal have to win by a margin of 3 goals.
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