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Podolski brace helps Arsenal reclaim 4th Place

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Arsenal reclaimed fourth spot in the Premier League standings for 24 hours at the very least with a hard earned 3-1 win over a tough West Ham United side at the Emirates in the sole fixture on Tuesday night. Playing less than 72 hours after their win against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup semi-final, the Gunners were forced to make some changes to their side as they put out an ageing side with no player other than their goalkeeper under 27, and named no British players in the starting eleven.

West Ham, who tend to typically score first against the Gunners, did just that with Matt Jarvis sending the Hammers ahead in the 40th minute with an opportune header at the near post after a good run from Antonio Nocerino down the right flank. West Ham's lead though lasted just over 3 minutes with Lukas Podolski firing home from inside the box after being found expertly by Santi Cazorla following a mis-kick by Stewart Downing.

Arsenal went into the break on a high having crucially equalized, and having got the fans finally behind the side after a quiet start.

After having missed a couple of glorious chances in the first half, Olivier Giroud redeemed himself in the eyes of the fans by scoring the go-ahead goal in the 55th minute, a fantastic finish after a glorious first touch, with the Frenchman smacking the ball threw the legs of the goalkeeper with his weaker right foot.

West Ham, who were very competitive in the first half, just didn't turn up for the second period, with their most active person being Manager Sam Allardyce on the touchline, spending an inordinate amount of time yelling at the referee in an attempt to get Kim Kallstrom sent off for an innocuous challenge. The Swede made his first start for the Gunners, and barring the odd stray pass, had a very good game in the heart of midfield alongside Mikel Arteta, and being well over six feet tall offered a bit of presence while defending set plays too.

With a little under 20 minutes to go in the game, Aaron Ramsey came on to some warm applause from a seemingly half-filled Emirates as the young Welshman replaced Tomas Rosicky, who was himself just returning from a little niggle that saw him miss the trip to Wembley.

Ramsey failed to get on the scoresheet despite having some sighters, but did produce the assist which killed the game in the 78th minute, heading Olivier Giroud's wayward pass perfectly into the path of Podolski, who smashed home his second.

The Gunners held on comfortably enough for a 3-1 win and go a point ahead of Everton, who play Crystal Palace at Goodison Park tomorrow. A draw for the Toffees would be enough to send them back into fourth, but Everton will no doubt be looking for another win with visits from the Manchester giants still to come.

For Arsenal, it was a welcome return to winning ways, and fans will hope that this is the start of a good run that will continue into the 5 games the Gunners have left this season, an outcome which Arsene Wenger believes will see them retain their Champions League berth, and will of course culminate in a win at Wembley in the FA Cup Final.

Interestingly for Arsenal, their next assignment is the dress rehearsal of that final against a very different looking Hull City side at the KC Stadium this weekend. Hull will be able to field the likes of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long on Sunday, and will hope to put the fear of god into Arsenal with a strong showing at home.


Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Arteta, Kallstrom, Rosicky (Ramsey 72'), Cazorla (Jenkinson 88'), Podolski, Giroud.

Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Fabianski, Sanogo, Jenkinson, Akpom, Bellerin.

West Ham: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins, Reid, Armero, Nocerino, Noble, Jarvis (Vaz Te 78'), Diame, Downing (J. Cole 78'), Carroll (C. Cole 84'). Subs: McCartney, Vaz Te, Taylor, Jaaskelainen, Carlton Cole, Joe Cole, Johnson.

Final Score: Arsenal 3-1 West Ham (Jarvis 40', Podolski 44', 78', Giroud 55')