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  • Arsenal 3-1 West Ham, Premier League

Podolski leads Arsenal back up to fourth

ESPN staff
April 15, 2014
Lukas Podolski's second goal sealed the win for Arsenal © Getty Images
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Arsenal moved back into the top four and into the final Champions League qualification spot after coming from a goal down to beat West Ham 3-1.

Matt Jarvis gave West Ham the lead five minutes before the break, heading in from close range after Antonio Nocerino was twice denied by Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Lukas Podolski equalised four minutes later with a drilled left-footed finish from Santi Cazorla's pass.

Olivier Giroud marked his return to the Arsenal side with a goal by putting his side in front in the 55th minute. The Frenchman neatly controlled Thomas Vermaelen's long pass and fired his shot under the legs of West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.

Podolski then scored his second of the night 12 minutes from time from Aaron Ramsey's headed flick-on.

Arsenal are now one point ahead of Everton, who have the opportunity to reclaim fourth place if they beat Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, with the Toffees threatening to end Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger's perfect record of getting the Gunners into the Champions League since he arrived to the club.

West Ham, who had not played since the home defeat to Liverpool on April 6, started well as Mohamed Diame fired a good chance over from close range on 18 minutes.

Arsenal's big chance arrived on the half-hour mark when Cazorla latched on to a stray pass in midfield and then fed Giroud, who beat the offside trap, but his scuffed finish was saved at full stretch by Adrian.

It proved costly as West Ham went ahead when Jarvis headed in from close range after Nocerino's shot was saved at the near post.

Arsenal, though, were level just before half-time as Podolski spun in the West Ham penalty area to drill a low shot into the bottom corner.

Giroud finally showed the perfect touch to put Arsenal ahead 10 minutes into the second half.

Vermaelen sent a high ball into the West Ham box, where Giroud held off both Winston Reid and Andy Carroll to take it down with one sublime left-foot touch before rolling his shot between the goalkeeper's legs.

Arsenal made sure of a crucial victory in the battle for Champions League qualification when Podolski crashed home his second goal of the night with 12 minutes left after a knockdown from Aaron Ramsey.

Arsenal welcomed back defender Laurent Koscielny from injury while Sweden midfielder Kim Kallstrom made his first start since arriving on a deadline-day loan from Spartak Moscow.

West Ham - without captain Kevin Nolan who failed a fitness test - made a bright start.

First, Diame's effort was charged down by Per Mertesacker before on-loan Milan winger Nocerino drilled in an angled shot which was blocked.

Arsenal slowly got into a spell of possession, and a low centre from Podolski down the left was just inches away from being tapped home by Giroud as he arrived at pace into the six-yard box.

On 15 minutes, Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who missed the Wembley tie because of injury, was late on Andy Carroll and was cautioned.

Diame then fired the ball over from five yards after a cutback from Carroll following a corner.

Arsenal should have been ahead on 30 minutes.

Cazorla collected a loose ball in midfield and then fed Giroud on the edge of the West Ham penalty area. The France forward beat the offside trap and took the ball in his stride, only to then try to flick the ball into the bottom left corner with the outside of his left boot and Adrian was able to get across to make the save.

West Ham took the lead five minutes before the break.

Nocerino darted down the Arsenal right and into the penalty area, and his near-post shot was saved by Szczesny. Jarvis reacted first to nod home from close range.

Arsenal looked for an immediate response as Kallstrom fired in an angled drive which Adrian pushed behind.

The hosts were level on 44 minutes.

Cazorla collected a poor clearance from Stewart Downing some 30 yards out, and fed Podolski in the left side of the West Ham box. The German spun his marker before drilling a low shot into the far corner.

Arsenal went into the lead 10 minutes into the second half.

Captain Vermaelen, deployed at left-back following injury to Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal, lobbed a deep pass from the halfway line into a crowded penalty area.

Both Reid and Carroll tried to block the France forward, who showed superb strength and then a sublime touch to kill the ball dead, before coolly slotting past the keeper with his right foot.

Adrian was called into action again on 61 minutes when he palmed away a curling free-kick from Podolski before Cazorla shaved the outside of the woodwork after cutting inside following a break down the right.

With 20 minutes left, Rosicky was replaced by Ramsey, just back from a long injury lay-off.

The Wales midfielder helped set up Arsenal's third goal on 78 minutes when he nodded Giroud's pass from the right through to Podolski, who turned to drill another fine finish past Adrian from 10 yards to wrap up victory.

While the manner of this response will have pleased Wenger, the Gunners boss knows there is still much work to do if they are to secure another shot at elite European football ahead of their Wembley trip on May 17 - which continues at FA Cup final opponents Hull on Easter Sunday.

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