Gunners flatten the Irons
Written By: Robert Halter
West Ham United had lost all of their last thirteen Premier League matches against Arsenal, with eight defeats in a row so the form book was not good for the Hammers ahead of their trip across London to the Emirates Stadium in mid March as the Irons loan signing, Alex Song, returned to face the Gunners. On five minutes, Arsenal had a penalty appeal turned away, after Theo Walcott, took a tumble while challenged by James Collins in the area. On the quarter of the hour mark, Adrian sprung into action with a flying save to palm away, a well placed header by Alexis Sanchez, following a pin point accurate cross by Calum Chambers. But the Hammers responded in the twenty first minute, when Mark Noble spread the ball out to the left and as Matt Jarvis whipped the ball over, a fierce low volley by the Irons captain, Kevin Nolan, had to be clawed away by the clutches of Gunners shot stopper, David Ospina. Two minutes later, Aaron Ramsey cleared the path down the left side but Olivier Giroud’s strike crashed into the outside netting by the near post. On twenty seven minutes, the Gunners tested Adrian again, whose acrobatic tip over, turned away a volley on the rise by Ramsey, after another measured delivery from Chambers. In the thirty third minute, Ramsey opened up the Hammers defence, after sliding the ball through to Theo Walcott, but when one on one with Adrian, his low strike was scrambled away by the West Ham keeper. Although a minute later, Adrian was back to his best to hook away a fiercely struck effort by Sanchez, following a poor headed clearance through Joey O’ Brien, after the ball had been put over from Ramsey. With two minutes of normal time remaining, the reaches of Adrian kept out Mesut Ozil, before Walcott blazed the rebound over, after a Ramsey pass had created space. Finally, Arsenal got their rewards just before the whistle blew for half time as Ozil’s threaded pass to Giroud was played back by Ramsey and with a deft finish, Giroud curled a strike into the top left side of the goal. Three minutes into the re-start, Ospina was left worse for wear, after Diafra Sakho collided into him, as the Gunners keeper protected his line, from a low ball by Jarvis. On fifty nine minutes, the Claret and Blue players were unable to capitalise on a miss directed header by Laurent Koscielny from a Stewart Downing corner, as Jarvis fired the ball over. Then in an unprecedented change, referee Chris Foy was unable to continue as the fourth official, Anthony Taylor took over. It was Arsenal that made the first change as Danny Welbeck took over from Sanchez. In the sixty ninth minute, the Gunners produced a good move without a goal threat as Welbeck linked up with Ozil on the left, whose cross was headed back by Walcott to Ramsey, but his shot was not directed at the target. The Gunners soon replaced Walcott with Santi Cazorla while the Hammers gave Morgan Amalfitano a run out in favour of Jarvis. But it was Arsenal that got the deciding second in the eighty first minute, from a long throw by Chambers, which was neatly touched on from Giroud which gave Ramsey the platform to launch the ball into the net. The Irons soon changed Noble with Nene while Arsenal replaced Ozil with Mathieu Flamini. A third goal arrived after link up play between Welbeck then Cazorla and Giroud before the ball was rolled across by Cazorla and from close range, Flamini turned the ball into an unguarded target in the eighty fourth minute. The Irons disappointing afternoon was summed up as Cheikhou Kouyate’s run from the middle of the park, ended with an unfashionable finish that leaked out wide of the mark. Before the end of stoppage time, Adrian stopped Welbeck’s goal bound header by diving at full stretch to his left, following Giroud’s carefully positioned cross. With victory secured, Arsenal were in sight of second placed, Manchester City, with just one point separating the sides in the table.