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Barclays Premier League

Upton Park (ATT 34,977) 26th December 2013 - Kick off 15:00

West Ham West Ham United vs Arsenal Arsenal

West Ham 1

C Cole (46)

ft

Arsenal 3

T Walcott (68, 71)
L Podolski (79)

Premier League: Arsenal back on top after 3-1 win at West Ham

Last Updated: 26/12/13 9:03pm

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Theo Walcott: Netted twice at West Ham

Theo Walcott: Netted twice at West Ham

Theo Walcott struck two goals in three minutes to send Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 Boxing Day win over West Ham at Upton Park.

Sam Allardyce's men had weathered some heavy pressure in the first period and snatched the lead early in the second through Carlton Cole - only for the Gunners to come up with a whirlwind final quarter and seal a surprisingly comfortable victory.

Best of the Match:

  • Man of the match: Theo Walcott. Worked tirelessly up and down the flank and scored two great goals to inspire the win.
  • Goal of the match: The third Arsenal goal as Lukas Podolski put the result beyond doubt with an emphatic finish with the outside of his foot after some good work in the box by Olivier Giroud.
  • Save of the match: Adrian with an absolutely terrific double save, first parrying Santi Cazorla's shot from outside the area before clearing the follow up effort from Mesut Ozil.
  • Talking point: West Ham's mounting injury problems with James Collins being withdrawn early and the Hammers dropping to just a point above bottom-placed Sunderland.

Also pleasing for Arsene Wenger was the successful return of Germany forward Lukas Podolski, who wrapped up the points having come off the bench, but both Aaron Ramsey and West Ham's James Collins were forced off by new injuries during the game.

It was the hosts who produced the first meaningful attempt at goal in the 10th minute - Mark Noble nearly punishing a needless Mikel Arteta foul with a free-kick that forced Wojciech Szczesny into a full-stretch save.

The Gunners were struggling to dissect a determined home defence and when they did in the 26th minute, Walcott should have done better than volley a precision lofted pass from Ramsey wide of the near post.

Santi Cazorla was two feet too high from distance on the half-hour mark and Olivier Giroud cut a frustrated figure having wasted a pair of openings created by well-timed Mesut Ozil passes. Arsenal were left ruing their misses in the very first minute of the second half.

Wojciech Szczesny will take the vast majority of blame for spilling Kevin Nolan's tame long-ranger but his defenders did him few favours, allowing Cole to pounce on the loose ball unattended and tuck home from close range.

The Pole went some way to atoning by smothering a Matt Jarvis attempt, and there were further scares for Arsenal before the hour mark - Joey O'Brien sending a free header the wrong side of the post and Cole failing to turn in a Jarvis cross.

It took a piece of poor goalkeeping to open the floodgates for Arsenal in the 68th minute. Walcott teased George McCartney onto the back foot, shifted the ball inside to shoot off his left foot and, despite making poor contact, Adrian could only usher his effort into the net.

Reaction from Arsene Wenger and Sam Allardyce after Arsenal came from behind to beat West Ham 3-1.

Walcott's second, just three minutes later, was more impressive. Podolski whipped over a cross that James Tomkins could only flick on - prompting Walcott to hang in the air a little longer in order to arrow a header past Adrian.

Podolski had already fired a pair of range-finders - the second a shot from an exquisite Cazorla pass that was well-saved by Adrian - by the time he marked his return to action with a goal. Giroud was his assistant, the Frenchman holding the ball up in the area before teeing up for Podolski to blast home from 15 yards.

Another substitute, Nicklas Bendtner, was a foot away from adding insult to injury as the game drifted into injury time but the Hammers' second half was summed up neatly by Joe Cole's tame attempt to snatch a last-gasp consolation goal.

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Matches

Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Liverpool 34 77
2 Chelsea 34 75
3 Manchester City 33 71
4 Arsenal 34 67
5 Everton 34 66
6 Tottenham Hotspur 34 60
7 Manchester United 33 57
8 Southampton 34 48
9 Newcastle United 34 46
10 Stoke City 34 43
11 Crystal Palace 34 40
12 West Ham United 34 37
13 Hull City 33 36
14 Aston Villa 33 34
15 Swansea City 34 33
16 West Bromwich Albion 33 33
17 Norwich City 34 32
18 Fulham 34 30
19 Cardiff City 34 29
20 Sunderland 33 26

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