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West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
December 26, 2013
• Boleyn Ground, London
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 34977
West Ham United
C. Cole 46'
T. Walcott 68', 71'
L. Podolski 79'
That's it from me folks, bye for now.
Arsenal's poor run of form seemed set to continue after Cole's early second half goal, but as it turned out, the Gunners had the answers. Theo Walcott turned it around with a double, but equally important were the contributions of Podolski (goal and an assist), Cazorla and Mertesacker. The Gunners go back on top, at least until the conclusion of the Man City-Liverpool game which will lick off shortly. West ham meanwhile continue to battle around the drop zone.
90' + 5'
Full time and Arsenal go back on top!
90' + 4'
Cole blasts wide from the top of the box with Szczesny covering well, and that may just be that.
90' + 3'
Deep into added time now, of which there are four minutes.
90' + 1'
HOLY MOTHER OF...BENDTNER NEARLY SCORED! Cazorla, who has been superb, releases the Dane down the right, and after shimmying into space, he slides a shot just wide of the far post!
Good ball by Bendtner to release Cazorla down the right. He could have shot, but instead elects to cut back to Walcott, whose attempt from an angle is deflected out for a corner.
Flamini is getting himself well forward in the final stages, perhaps looking to get in on the fun.
Giroud's race is run, and on comes Bendtner for the final stretch. West Ham fans are making for the exit in increasing numbers.
The energy has sapped out of this one since Podolski's strike. It's looking good for the Gunners, as they seem content to run down the clock.
What an impact Podolski has made off the bench by the way. An assist and a goal to turn around a troublesome game into a comfortable three points. His direct style in tandem with Walcott on the opposite flank will work wonders for the out of form Ozil too.
Assist Olivier Giroud
Goal Lukas Podolski
Giroud has been rather terrible all game, but he came through with a flourish there. He controls a cross superbly, and lays off to Podolski, who smashes in a lovely left-footer from 20 yards into the bottom corner! Game over, and Arsenal are heading back top of the table for a few hours at least.
PODOLSKI SEALS IT!
Ozil fakes a shot and threads it through to Giroud, but it's a little too behind the French striker, and he cannot drag the ball into position for the finish!
Though one slip up at the back can change everything, it's hard to see how West Ham will get back into this one now. Mertesacker and Vermaelen have been comfortable for most of the second half.
Credit to Arsenal for not letting up, and Cazorla, slightly off balance, nearly slams in a beauty from 20 yards, but it's agonizingly wide.
Podolski comes within inches of killing off the game, after Cazorla releases him, but Adrian is off his line quickly to intercept his finish!
Goal Theo Walcott
Podolski whips in a beautiful cross, and Walcott takes advantage of a crucial deflection off Tomkins to head home! What a turnaround!
WALCOTT AGAIN! ARSENAL LEAD!
Assist Santi Cazorla
Goal Theo Walcott
Adrian, who has been so solid so far, coughs that one up badly. Walcott drifted infield from the right with the ball, and drilled a seemingly harmless shot straight at the keeper. I can only assume that he saw it late, because he let it slip right through his hands.
WALCOTT SQUEEZES IN AN EQUALISER!
Oh dear. Podolski swung and missed a shot, and is getting up very slowly after taking a knock during that play. Welcome back, Lukas.
Word is that Ramsey will play no further part, but the good news is that Podolski will replace him.
It's just not happening for Arsenal. Ramsey goes down injured, Gibbs elects to play on, and Ozil slips onto his backside to waste what little advantage they had. What a mess.
ADRIAN DOUBLE SAVE! Cazorla's snap shot is parried by the keeper, and Ozil seems to be on the rebound, but he smashes it into the leg of the West Ham stopper, who stops once again!
Yellow Card Santi Cazorla
Some real tough pressure from the Gunners, who give West Ham a taste of their own medicine with a series of crosses into the box. The Hammers hold firm though, but the ball keeps coming.
WHAT A CHANCE FOR 2-0!!!! Rat with a FANTASTIC deep cross in, and Cole gets behind Mertesacker, but like Walcott in the first half, touches it the wrong side of the post!
O'Brien is then lucky to avoid a second booking after hacking down Giroud. Ramsey wastes the resulting free kick, smashing it into the wall.
O'BRIEN! What was he doing in the box? Diame's ball is splendid, and finds the right back unmarked on the six yard line, but he plants his header the wrong side of the post!
The next ball from Sagna is nowhere near the standard of his previous deliveries, failing to beat the first man despite acres of space to pick his target.
It's just not clicking for poor Giroud, as another excellent Sagna cross is just out of the striker's reach.
Arsenal furiously appeal for a handball against Rat, after Mertesacker's half volley (yes you saw that one correctly), struck him in a crowded area. Difficult to make that call.
Big response needed now from Arsenal. It's no time to start pointing fingers, they had their chances to score. The Gunners cannot afford any more dropped points.
Goal C. Cole
A Jarvis cross was cleared to Nolan at the top of the box, and his shot is spilled by Szczesny, and Cole laps up the rebound! You have to lay the blame of that one at the feet of the Pole, the shot was straight at him!
WEST HAM LEAD!
Here we go again!
For all their possession, Arsenal have failed to test Adrian much. Giroud has been guilty of a few horrible miscues as his lamentable run in front of gal continues. West Ham, as you would expect, have threatened from set plays, but Mertesacker has marshaled a decent Gunners defensive effort so far. Restart coming up in just a bit.
45' + 3'
Half time and goalless.
45' + 2'
Gibbs overlaps magnificently and drills the ball across the six yard area...and Giroud misses the ball completely. Oof.
45' + 1'
Arsenal nearly caught out by a set piece, but Szczesny makes himself big to put off Noble from his shot.
45' + 1'
Two minutes of additional time...
ARTETA! Cazorla smacks the wall with a free kick, but it bounces kindly for Arteta on the top of the box, and his snap shot goes just wide!
Oh dear Giroud. Ozil and Cazorla combine sumptuously, and the former is released to the byeline and cuts the ball back across the goal line, but the French striker, in position bizarrely fails to even make contact with the ball!
Ramsey beats Noble to the byeline excellently, and clips a ball back across the face of goal, but Adrian is at his near post to smother.
Flag up against Joe Cole, and Arsenal escape, after Carlton Cole had bettered Mertesacker and released Jarvis unmarked down the line.
Arsenal starting to find some gaps on the break towards the end of the first half. Collins meanwhile has gone down injured, and it looks like he'll be quickly swapped out for Rat.
Ramsey initially screws up a good counter by playing the ball into a defender, but recovers the ball quickly, and drives it at goal, but a deflection makes it easy for Adrian!
Bad miss by Giroud, who is played in on goal by Cazorla, but scuffs it wide of the far post. Symbolic of his form for the past few weeks.
CAZORLA! Really well hit shot from 20 yards after a pinpoint square ball by Ozil, but it just drops about a foot over the bar.
It's an almighty scrap inside the Arsenal box for the ball as Cole and Mertesacker wrestle to bring down a bouncing high ball.
The pace of the game has just let up in the last few moments. Both managers will be fairly pleased with how things have gone, but will want their men on the field to pick up the tempo.
WALCOTT HAS TO SCORE! Ramsey dinks in a fantastic ball over the top that finds him unmarked at the far post, but he stabs it lethargically wide of the post! Not good enough!
DIAME! He seemed isolated and destined to end his solo run towards goal in vain, but he unleashes a powerful left footer that Szczesny needs two bites of the cherry to save!
The boos raining down on the Arsenal players after a poor challenge from Arteta goes unpunished.
West Ham can't get the ball at the moment! As good as their defending has been, it must be a bit tiresome to be chasing the game now after their impressive start.
Yellow Card Joey O'Brien
It's all a little too mechanical from Arsenal at the top of the West Ham box. Though the Gunners are exerting some pressure, the Hammers are holding form and denying them any space.
OOH...good reaction save by Adrian to parry away a long range Cazorla header! Yes, you read that correctly.
West Ham have started this game really well. They are finding space on the flanks to bombard the Arsenal box, and Mertesacker and Co. are set for a busy afternoon.
Ramsey just tries to be a little too cute after collecting a great layoff from Ozil at the top of the box. He could have went for goal himself or returned to the German early, but instead held onto the pass for too long and sees it intercepted.
It's in by Noble towards the far corner, but Szczesny is on it and punches clear! A little embellishment from the keeper, but he still made the save and got the ball well away from danger.
Diame caught on the edge of the box by Arteta after he had gotten in behind Sagna. Ozil and Cazorla form a halfhearted wall with Arteta.
We're seeing some real fluency from the Arsenal front six in the opposition half. And just as I say that, they lose the ball carelessly.
EXCELLENT ball in from the right by Sagna, and it's anyone's guess as to how Giroud did not make contact onto that. He leaped high enough, but went too early.
The ball is played on the overlap to Jarvis, but Vermaelen is on hand at the near post to nod clear. West Ham work the ball back into the box, and Szczesny misses the ball, but Arsenal get it clear again.
West Ham win a free kick in a decent position after Cole's heavy first touch was bailed out by a needless barge from Ramsey. Foul.
Cazorla looks for Walcott with a deft reverse pass, but the England winger just inches forward too early, and is called for offside.
"I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" rings around Upton Park as Arsenal kick us off!
West Ham are another side that need to start moving in the right direction again. They sit only a point above the drop zone, but without the reborn Ravel Morrison today, it will be interesting to see how they cope. We all know the bad blood between Allardyce and Wenger, and I'm sure that the Hammers will do just that today in their bid to ruffle the Gunners' feathers.
It's been a terrible December for Arsenal, who are without a win in their last four games. Even though the likes of Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City are a challenge for anyone, the Gunners will need to start taking points from such high profile encounters. With City and Liverpool squaring off later in the day, they will want a win here to put pressure back on the title chasing pair.
Arsene Wenger meanwhile has made just one change to his team after their stalemate against Chelsea midweek. In comes Santi Cazorla and out comes Tomas Rosicky. Despite suggestions that the overworked Mesut Ozil and the out of form Olivier Giroud would sit out this one, they both play from the start.
So let's look at the hosts first. Sam Allardyce expunges Guy Demel, Ravel Morrison, Matt Taylor and Modibo Maiga from his XI. And heading up the replacements in the starting lineup are Joey O'Brien, Joe Cole, Kevin Nolan and Carlton Cole.
ARSENAL BENCH: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Monreal, Flamini, Gnabry, Bendtner, Podolski.
ARSENAL: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud.
WEST HAM BENCH: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Diarra, Taylor, Maiga, Collison, Rat.
WEST HAM: Adrian, O'Brien, Tomkins, Collins, McCartney, Jarvis, Nolan, J.Cole, Noble, Diame, C.Cole.
Let's take a look at our teams, shall we?
Hello and welcome to the Boxing Day football festivities, as West Ham host Arsenal in what is sure to be an enticing London derby. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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