Back on track
As part of our Premier League snap-shots feature, we look at Arsenal's 3-1 victory at West Ham.
Last Updated: October 6, 2012 10:21pm
Celebration: Arsenal were back to winning ways at West Ham
Arsenal suffered their first Premier League defeat of the campaign against Chelsea last weekend but steadied the ship with a 3-1 win at West Ham on Saturday.
Olivier Giroud scored his first league goal for the Gunners to cancel out Mohamed Diame's attractive opener, while super substitute Theo Walcott was also on target and midfield wizard Santi Cazorla added another to crown a superb team display.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce welcomed Andy Carroll back into his starting XI after the forward fully recovered from a hamstring injury and the England international caused problems for Arsenal with his aerial threat. The manager's only other change was the introduction of George McCartney for the injured Joey O'Brien.
Arsene Wenger made three changes to the Arsenal side that beat Olympiakos in the Champions League in midweek. German centre-half Per Mertesacker returned after recovering from a virus to replace Laurent Koscielny, who was sloppy in defence against Chelsea last weekend. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud were also recalled, with the latter finally easing the pressure on his shoulders as he scored his first Premier League goal.
Arsenal struggled to click last weekend against Chelsea but they resolved that at Upton Park, with Wenger's side looking threatening throughout. Most of their dominance came from midfield, where Santi Cazorla was particularly impressive as he linked up with the Gunners' frontline, while Mikel Arteta was also key, showing intelligent passing in his holding role. Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs worked well down the left to provide service, while defender Carl Jenkinson also showed his ability going forward once again. However Gervinho, played out on the right of attack to accommodate the return of Giroud, had an uninspiring evening.
Carroll was heavily involved in the action at the head of the Hammers' attack, while he also played his part in defence, making several crucial clearances. However, the frontman was not given too much service from the wings, with Ricardo Vaz Te having a quiet game before going off injured, while Matt Jarvis was also subdued.
Fitness problems hit both sides and Allardyce was forced to replace the injured Vaz Te with Matthew Taylor when he dislocated his shoulder in the second half. The winger worked hard and brought fresh energy to the attack but could not turn things around. James Tomkins came on with 20 minutes remaining for the injured Guy Demel and the Hammers conceded twice as he struggled to make an impact. The manager's final change of Carlton Cole for Diame in a late attempt to add some extra firepower went unrewarded.
Wenger was also forced into a change as Gibbs went off injured and Andre Santos was introduced not long after the break. The Brazilian helped keep things tight at the back as the Gunners went ahead late on. That comeback was in part thanks to the inspired introduction of Theo Walcott in place of the ineffective Gervinho, with the winger grabbing a goal and an assist. Finally the manager added a more defensive feel to his line-up late on as he replaced Podolski with centre-back Koscielny.
Phil Dowd had a tough call to make when Diame made a rash challenge on Arteta having already been booked for his goal celebration and the referee chose to be lenient on the midfielder and not give him a second yellow, much to the annoyance of the travelling Arsenal fans. Dowd's other big decision may also have aggrieved Gunners supporters as he denied the visitors a penalty after Ramsey went down on the edge of the box under pressure from Taylor.
For West Ham the result marked a first defeat in five games and they will be keen to get back on track at home to Southampton when the campaign resumes. They managed to frequently get the ball up to frontman Carroll against the Gunners and created plenty of chances but could not convert them into goals. Even so, the Hammers sit eighth in the table and will be feeling confident against the Saints after making the brighter start.
Arsenal have recovered well from defeat against Chelsea and looked a dangerous side once they got going at Upton Park, showing character to come from behind for a win. They will be hoping to carry the momentum from Saturday's triumph into their visit to Norwich later this month.