Arsenal 5 – 1 West Ham: Fat Sam, Grand-Slammed

Arsenal 5 – 1 West Ham
Match Report | Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

This was a match that Arsenal desperately needed to win. To do so in such style was a huge bonus.

Arsene Wenger will have beedn particularly please by the fact that his trio of summer signings – Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud – were at the heart of dismantling the Hammers. Podolski in particular had his most effective game in an Arsenal shirt, racking up a goal and three assists.

I’m a huge fan of the German winger. Although he can go quiet when deprived of service, he is ruthlessly efficient given the opportunity. His goal was a display of the incredible power he has in his left boot, while the three assists showed how effective he can be supplying ammunition from the flank. How Guy Demel must have wished he was still an Arsenal player as he saw Podolski tear at him time after time in that devastating period at the start of the second half.

I call him a winger quite deliberately. Podolski is the best finisher at the club, and there are understandable calls to play him as a central striker. Personally, I think he offers us more from the left. His work-rate is far better than commonly perceived, and his crossing is superb: he now has 10 assists to go with his 11 goals.

Podolski isn’t a flair player. He’s a machine. He finds space, and crosses or shoots. If he shoots, he doesn’t much around with side-foot or swerve: he hits the ball as clean and true as anyone I’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt.

It was he who got Arsenal back in to the game after going behind on, unsurprisingly, a set piece. Olivier Giroud headed a corner away, but Jack Collison was unmarked on the edge of the area and able to volley back in. Crucially, Podolski’s wonder-strike had us level before half-time, and when we came out for the second period we seemed hell-bent on putting West Ham to the sword.

First Arsenal produced a set piece routine of their own, as Olivier Giroud volleyed home from a corner after some clever screening work by Mertesacker. Then Podolski played what is becoming a trade-mark one two with Giroud before squaring to Santi Cazorla to back-heel home. The Spaniard celebrated with such humility that from the crowd I initially thought it had been an own goal. I shouldn’t have doubted him, as the replays confirmed an exquisite flick.

A minute later Podolski was in again, this time playing a ball across the penalty area which Theo Walcott side-footed home with real assuredness. He is now on 16 goals for the season, and it looks increasingly likely that this will be the season when he breaks the 20-goal mark for the first time.

The final goal was another beauty: Jack Wilshere split the defence with a beautiful pass to Podolski, and Olivier Giroud got in front of his man to meet the German’s cross and turn the ball home with the inside of his heel. The contest was over, and the game understandably petered out.

Arsenal need the three points for their league position. What’s more, they needed the injection of confidence the scoreline provides. The six month adaptation period for Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla is now over, and Arsenal need them to produce performances like this on a consistent basis if we’re to claw back Tottenham’s lead.

It wasn’t a perfect evening. The injury to young Dan Potts put a dampener on proceedings, while the introduction of Andre Santos to the front three in place of a tiring Podolski was a startling reminder of the shallowness of our squad.

However, we should grasp a rare opportunity to be positive. Our defence recovered from a shaky start to look relatively secure, Aaron Ramsey excelled in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role, and our attacking game was far more cohesive and clinical than in recent weeks.

Plus, we made Sam Allardyce miserable. You can’t ask for much more than that.

Further reading: Player Ratings for Bleacher Report

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.

182 Comments

  1. Saboteur   •  

    It was a 15 minute collapse from a newly promoted side, let’s not get too carried away,

    • J   •  

      No pleasing some people eh? West Ham are a good team. They may be a newly promoted side but their position in the table is not false. They give anyone a match (ask Chelsea, Man City and Man U. While I agree on the point that our expectations should not rise, surely optimism can increase that this season is salvageable?

      • Adelaide Gooner   •  

        J, you’ve got to focus on big picture stuff. I don’t think anyone with a knowledge of our club will be thinking that a good victory over an average EPL club has solved all of our problems. Reality says that we’re still miles away from the real challengers and no closer to attracting top class talent.

  2. sven   •  

    Wenger out!

  3. Groverider   •  

    Heh, nice Bugsy Malone reference!

  4. goonerton   •  

    Big up on the Bugsy ref. Had to click the link from that alone. That had me rolling round the room! “Fat Sam Grand Slam Speak Easy” lmfbao!

  5. goonerton   •  

    Brilliant performance to bring us some joy for a few days but, we still have no idea how to defend properly and that’s baffling.

  6. Stevieo   •  

    At first I thought it was a good performance.

    But then a West Ham fan told me that they underestimated us, which explained why we won.

    Results these days are all down to the coefficient of over and underestimating your opponents. And that’s the gospel truth.

  7. Son of CockHunter13   •  

    That’s right, I’m glad to see that you’re learning Stevieo; West Ham underestimated us and they paid the price. Many other teams will be paying the price this season too.

    What’s more important is that we showed them what it’s like to have stadium with good grass….when you have good grass – anything is possible! Sir Arsene knows this :-)

  8. True Gunner :D   •  

    Yes the grass is all that matters why else would you watch an Arsenal game :P

  9. BoB   •  

    Is there really not a crumb of hope that we will be adding to our squad during this window? Usually there are credible sources linking us with players but on this occasion every single link has been false. Sometimes those links can offer hope that we are serious about making progress. This window has been incredibly depressing. Watching teams around us strengthen and add to their squads whilst we remain stagnant despite being cash rich…

    #wengerout

  10. Munitionsman   •  

    Wenger out. Even if its just on the basis that our team can play that well when they want to, but more often than not don’t. I wonder what a good manager could do with this core of players, a couple of good additions, and some world class coaching?

  11. Really truly   •  

    The ‘further reading’ – full disclosure please, were you paid for it or do you have some connection with the Bleacher Report?

    I ask only because I have high respect for your site, and complete contempt for the other.

  12. RVB   •  

    Seeing Podolski click like that is real beauty! It’s seeing that team play that was fabulous too! Podi should be starting every match but I wondder if Wenger ever consider switching Walcott and Podi so that they can cut in and shoot with their stronger foot.

    We always knew that once the opposition start chasing the game, we can counter pretty effectively. Now the new trio has shown how deadly. But it’s the first 2 goals from Podi and Giroud that really turned the game IMO. The rest was great to watch but not a significant show of our capability to me.

  13. Sir "Wegs" Wegwick   •  

    im watching the australian open and that british lad murray is playing federer. i’m curious why murray is so white. these chaps are out in the sun, they’re usually tanned like bronzed aussie lifesavers. murray looks sickly pale.

    • Adelaide Gooner   •  

      Murray had just listened to Wenger’s last press conference. Enough to make any bronzed body turn pale.

  14. Sir "Wegs" Wegwick   •  

    I thought young zaha wouldve been a good buy. If we have £15m in the bank, why not spend it on a gooner who can olay a bit?

  15. The game   •  

    Great news from Arsene Wanker! “Dont expect any major signings” the current squad is filled with quality in every position. This man is totally insane! Zaha, Ba, M’Villa, Yanga-mbiwa, Villa are not up to the top top quality he is looking for to strenghed the current squad. Give Keown a pair of soccer shoes and blindfold him and he will lead the Arsenal defence better then any of the crap currently playing there. One good result and the man totally forgets all the errors his team has.

    • Adelaide Gooner   •  

      Definition of insanity: AW talking transfers.

      • True Gunner :D   •  

        What r u complaining about the pitch has nice green grass… that’s all we watch anyway :P

        I see the trolls are disappointed each time we win!!!

        • The game   •  

          True true we did win one trophy for our groundkeeping last year. Its Strange that Arsene Wanker has’t mentioned that as our last won trophy. Am a proud gunner to have such fine grass to play on its a treat to the eye.

          • True Gunner :D   •  

            Everyone wants to play at the Emirates, its all down to that wonderful grass that people can watch!!!

  16. Sir "Wegs" Wegwick   •  

    Pretty soon we’ll sell our grasd to man city and replace it with a bag of seeds from france and spain. They wont like the cold weather and be plucked out and sold to spanish grounds before.they can take root. And then we’ll settle on winning fourth place in the groundskeeping competition.

  17. The game   •  

    Or Arsene Wanker Will find out that our grass is soo good that it Can be smoked and he Will sell it to Ajax together with the groundskeeper condeming Arsenal to go 8 years without Winning the groundkeeper trophy.

  18. True Gunner :D   •  

    Brighton grass not so green, completely disappointed :P

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