London: Olivier Giroud’s thunderbolt helped Arsenal see off the challenge of West Ham and cement their place in the top four of the English Premier League with a 3-0 victory. The Gunners recorded an eighth home league success to keep the pressure on second-placed Manchester City after finally seeing off what was a spirited second-half effort from the Hammers.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring against West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Theo Walcott, recalled to the starting XI following injury to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, had missed a couple of early chances before goalkeeper Adrian was beaten on the stroke of half-time by a fierce angled drive from French striker Giroud, which cannoned in off the far post.
West Ham in disarray
West Ham, who have plummeted down the table following a poor run of results, regrouped for the second half and would have been good value for an equaliser. However, Arsenal finally broke then down again with nine minutes left when Aaron Ramsey fired in after a neat one-two with Giroud and substitute Mathieu Flamini rolled home a third to send Arsene Wenger’s side into next week’s Champions League tie away to Monaco with renewed hope of an unlikely comeback.
Walcott, who had not played since the 1-3 European home defeat by the French side on February 25, was played clear by a flick from Giroud on five minutes. However, he hesitated in the six-yard box and James Collins made a last-ditch block as referee Chris Foy waved away appeals for a penalty with Walcott sprawling on the floor.