The Gunners dominated the first half with Santi Carzola’s header parried away before the Spaniard fired a long range effort over. But the best chance fell to Walcott who fired his volley wide from close range.
The Hammers’ best chance fell to Mark Noble’s whose curling free-kick was parried. The hosts took just a minute of the second half to score when Wojciech Szczesny could only parry Noble’s shot and Cole tapped in the rebound.
That sprung the home side into action with Matt Jarvis and Carlton Cole spurning chances. Adrian denied Cazorla and Mesut Ozil but was at fault when Walcott’s low effort went under him.
And Walcott was the hero after heading in Podolski’s cross from the left to make it 2-1.
Podolski made sure of victory with a vicious effort with the outside of his foot late on.
6’ CHANCE – Cazorla cuts inside and fires in a low shot which is blocked by Tomkins.
8’ FREE KICK: Free-kick to the Hammers from the left side. Noble's curling effort is beaten away by the keeper.
14’ CHANCE: Walcott's set-piece is flicked by Mertesacker and Cazorla's header is parried by Adrian.
24’ - GOOD SAVE: Diame's left footed shot from outside the box is well saved by the keeper, good effort.
26’ – BAD MISS: Walcott's volley from close range goes wide - he should have scored after Ramsey's chip into the box.
32’ – SO CLOSE: Cazorla flashes a long range effort just over after Ozil's pass.
43’ – GUNNERS GO CLOSE : Cazorla takes the free-kick but its straight into the wall and Arteta's rebound is just wide.
46’ – GOAL: Carlton Cole bundles in the rebound after Noble's shot is only parried by the keeper.
50’ -SO CLOSE: Nolan's through ball finds Jarvis but his shot is beaten away by the keeper.
54’ – HAMMERS CHANCE: O Brien's diving header goes narrowly wide from Diame's cross.
56’ – COLE AGAIN: Carlton Cole can only divert Rat's cross wide with the goal at his mercy from 6 yards out.
60’ – ADRIAN BRILLIANCE: Double save by Adrian to deny Cazorla and then Ozil from close range.
68’ – EQUALISER: Walcott equalises with a low effort which goes under the keeper
70’ WALCOTT AGAIN: A bullet header from Podolski's cross from the left to make it 2-1.
79’ – GOAL: Podolski's effort flies into the bottom corner after Giroud's tee-up.
90’ – CHANCE: Sub Bendtner slices an effort narrowly wide.
The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 11 London derbies on Boxing Day.
West Ham slip to 19th in the table after another defeat.
Do the Gunners need another striker? Walcott showed if he is played in the middle, he can be a foil for Olivier Giroud. And Lucas Podolski was brilliant when he came off the bench with a well taken goal.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) - Took his two goals well and they came at a crucial time when the Hammers were threatening an upset.
WEST HAM: Adrian 5, O’Brien 6, Collins 6, Tomkins 6, McCartney 6, Noble 7, Diame 5, Nolan 6, Jarvis 6, J Cole 5, C Cole 8. Subs: Rat 6, Taylor 5, Demel 5.
ARSENAL: Szczesny 5, Sagna 6, Mertesacker 7, Vermaelen 6, Gibbs 6, Arteta 6, Ramsey 6, Walcott 9, Ozil 5, Cazorla 7, Giroud 6. Subs: Podolski 7, Flamini 5, Bendtner 6.