Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Podolski's brace and Giroud wonder goal secure three points for the Gunners

A Lukas Podolski brace and a wonder goal from Olivier Giroud won Arsenal all three points that put them back into the top four.

The German completed 90 minutes in the league for only the third time in his Gunners career and scored two poachers goals at important times of the game to ensure Arsene Wenger's men got all three points.

The goal of the night was scored by Giroud, who with the deftest of touches first controlled the ball under the pressure of two West Ham players and then shot through the legs of the Hammers goalkeeper.

The north London side go back into the Champions League position for 24 hours at least, until Everton play Crystal Palace tomorrow night.

Wenger made five changes from the side which won through to the FA Cup final. Wojciech Szczesny returned in goal in place of Lukasz Fabianski, Laurent Kosciielny was recalled in place of Nacho Monreal, Kim Kallstrom handed his first start with Aaron Ramsey dropped to the bench, Tomas Rosicky came in for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud replaced Yaya Sanogo in attack.

The average age of the outfield players was 29 and a half. The oldest starting 11 since May 2003.

From a West Ham corner, Rosicky broke down the right and swung a cross in which Cazorla couldn't control and the chance was gone.

Tosicky was at the heart of the Gunners next chance in the 13th minutes. The Czech international put Podolski in on the left and the German crossed but Giroud was unable to get on the end of it.

Moments later Rosicky was booked for a challenge on Armero.

Arsenal were fortunate not to have had a penalty awarded against them when Carroll headed down a cross in the box and Sagna swung a leg to clear the ball but didn't make contact with it. Instead he caught Matt Jarvis.

The visitors were on the accendancy. They were having the better chances and Carroll was at the heart of everything for the Irons.

Kallstrom was asking questions of his team mates with his passing. The former Sweden international was lifting balls over the full backs and asking Cazorla and Podolski to run on to the ball. However many of these passes weren't coming off.

It appears that no Arsenal player wanted to run forward. The possession game was evident but chances were few and far between.

Giroud had the best chance of the half, given the offside advantage as Cazorla played the Frenchman in but his flick towards goal was saved. Moments later Rosicky played a one two with Giroud but couldn't get a shot away.

The Arsenal crowd increased the noise as the team increased the pressure on the opposition and started to dictate the play as they had done in the early part of the game.

West Ham took the lead in the 38th minutes after some good fortune. Matt Jarvis got the end of a spill from Szczesny after he saved Nocerino cut inside from the left. Arsenal had defenders inside the box, but Koscielny couldn't make contact with the ball to clear it.

Kallstrom forced a save from Adrian after playing a one-two with Giroud. It was the first shot on target from an Arsenal player in the first half.

Lukas Podolski capitalised on a Stewart Downing error as the West Ham man tried to clear the ball from the corner area on the Arsenal right. The former England man's pass was cut out by Cazorla who played the ball straight into the box and Podolski fired off a shot which hit the back of the net.

There were no changes at the break.

Downing had the first shot of the half which was wide. Diame hit one well over the bar. The Gunners were starting to get their passing game going. However it was West Ham with the majority of the chances in the early stages.

The Gunners took the lead with a goal from Giroud. West Ham cleared a corner only as far as Vermaelen. The Belgium pumped the ball into the box which the Frenchman pulled out of the air while being challenged by Reid and Carroll. His deft touch took on his left foot out the Irons players and he struck the ball with his right through the legs of Adrian to score his 20th goal of the season.. A wonderful goal for the Frenchman.

Podolski had a free kick saved after Rosicky was fouled. Diame was booked for the challenged. Moments later Kallstrom was yellow carded for a challenge on Nocerino.

Arsenal were close to extending their leads with a well struck shot from Cazorla from outside the area, but the ball veered wide of Adrian post.

With 25 minutes to go, it seemed the game was finely balanced. Wenger made his first substitution with 20 minutes to go, Ramsey replacing Rosicky.

The Gunners added to their lead with Podolski's second goal of the match. It was a great combination from the German, Ramsey and Giroud. The trio played the ball in a triangle twice, with the final ball being a Giroud cross to Ramsey who played in Podolski who was on shoulder of the last defender and the attacker shot the ball high into the net.

With 12 minutes remaining Sam Alladyce made a double substitution with Ricardo Vaz Te replacing Jarvis and Downing coming off for Joe Cole. The final West Ham substitution was made with seven minutes to go, Carlton Cole coming on for Carroll.

And the English forward won a free kick with his first involvement in the game after being fouled by Koscielny. The free kick found Cole in the box, but his header was off target.

Wenger made his second substitution of the game, with Cazorla coming off for Carl Jenkinson with three minutes of normal time left.

The Gunners played keep ball at the end to ensure they secured all three points.

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