Arsenal strike late to win at West Ham

Premier League, Upton Park – West Ham United 1 (Diame 21) Arsenal 3 (Giroud 41, Walcott 77, Cazorla 83)

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Arsenal's Olivier Giroud (L) celebrates scoring a goal during their English Premier League soccer match against West Ham at the Boleyn Ground in London October 6, 2012 (Reuters)

Arsenal came from a goal behind to beat West Ham United 3-1 at Upton Park and move up to fifth place in the Premier League.

The Gunners dominated in possession, but Sam Allardyce's side fashioned the better early chances and went in front courtesy of a 21st-minute stunner from Mohamed Diame.

But Olivier Giroud's first Premier League goal levelled things just before the break, and in the second half a strike from substitute Theo Walcott and a rasping goal from Santi Cazorla swung the game their way.

Andy Carroll returned to the starting line-up for West Ham after 20 minutes as a substitute in the Hammers’ victory at QPR, while Per Mertesacker came back for Arsenal, displacing Laurent Koscielny. Up front, Giroud started as the target man, flanked by Lukas Podolski and Gervinho, who have both operated in that role this season.

Arsenal began the stronger, passing the ball around with trademark style and verve, and enjoying over two-thirds of the possession. Giroud called Jussi Jaaskelainen into action early, with Hammers goalkeeper having to tip an early effort from the edge of the area around the post.

But the home side struck first with a flowing move capped off by Diame. It began with Guy Demel controlling an Arsenal cross and knocking the ball forward, and ended when the Senegalese midfielder cut past Aaron Ramsey into the penalty area and curled the ball around Vito Mannone.

Carroll was also a menace for the Hammers, seemingly first to every high ball, and he could have doubled the lead with a header just after the half-hour mark which Mannone grabbed.

The Gunners took their time to rebound from conceding, but made sure they went in all square at the break after Podolski whipped in a devilish low cross from the left that Giroud volleyed home from close range. It meant that the France striker broke his Premier League duck after five hours and six minutes of play in some style.

Kevin Nolan spurned several chances for the home side, including one on the stroke of half time as Carroll nodded down into his path, and from point-blank range he steered the ball beyond the far post.

The game drifted early in the second half, with Arsenal again in charge of possession without converting it into a raft of chances. There were injury worries for both sides - Kieran Gibbs went off with a thigh problem for the visitors, while Ricardo Vaz Te appeared to dislocate his shoulder after a clash with Mannone.

But the introduction of Walcott for Gervinho woke the game up.

The England winger almost played Giroud in for a second with a backheel after 65 minutes, only for Carroll to glance a header wide at the other end moments later with Mannone beaten.

Nolan and Podolski swapped chances as the game opened up, before Walcott put Arsenal in front with 13 minutes to play. Giroud turned provider on the counter-attack, weighting the through ball perfectly, and Walcott showed great composure and accuracy to place a finish beyond Jaaskelainen on his near post.

Nolan had yet another decent chance to level just two minutes later, but lifted it high over the bar, before a moment of magic from Cazorla settled things.

The Spaniard crashed a shot across goal from 25 yards with just seven minutes remaining, reducing Jaaskelainen to a standstill as the ball found the corner.

Taylor tested out Mannone late on with a dipping effort of his own, while Giroud might have capped his performance off with a second goal had he clipped Cazorla’s delicate through ball over Jaaskelainen rather than over him.

But it was nonetheless a victory of substance for Arsenal – this was the sort of fixture they have lost all too easily in recent seasons, but again they came back from a tricky position in the match to record an encouraging win.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) – Scored the equaliser, set up the winner, and put in a performance worthy of Arsene Wenger’s summer investment in him.

PLAYER RATINGS

WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen 6, Demel 7, McCartney 6, Reid 6, Collins 6, Noble 6, Nolan 6, Diame 8, Vaz Te 6, Jarvis 6, Carroll 7 SUBS: Taylor 6, Tomkins 6, Cole N/A

ARSENAL: Mannone 6, Jenkinson 7, Mertesacker 7, Vermaelen 7, Gibbs 6, Ramsey 7, Arteta 7, Gervinho 6, Cazorla 8, Podolski 7, Giroud 8 SUBS: Walcott 8, Santos 6, Koscielny N/A

FULL MATCHCAST AND STATS

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