Arsenal boosted their Champions League hopes with a deserved victory over West Ham, who remain in relegation trouble after a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat. After a quiet first half, Mesut Ozil, on his 150th appearance for the Gunners, fired home from the edge of the box after being gifted possession by Jose Fonte. And the German, after playing a one-two with Alexis Sanchez, crossed for Theo Walcott – captain for the day in the absence of the injured Laurent Koscielny – to turn home from eight yards out. Olivier Giroud curled in a fantastic third after being picked out by fellow substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The Gunners are now up to fifth in the table, only four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, with a game in hand on Pep Guardiola’s side.
West Ham are five points above the bottom three, although it could have been a lot worse had Swansea not collapsed late on to lose 3-1 to Tottenham. The Gunners had only won one and drawn another in their past six Premier League games, to leave their hopes of Champions League qualification – having reached the last 17 tournaments – in real jeopardy. There were more protests against long-serving manager Arsene Wenger – with some Gunners fans not taking their seats until the 13th minute. It has been 13 years since they last won the league. But it did not distract the team too much, admittedly against opposition in even worse form than themselves. Arsenal had the best of the first half, but it was after the break they took control of the game. Hammers keeper Darren Randolph was unhappy with Ozil’s opener as he felt Sanchez was offside and blocking his view, but referee Martin Atkinson did not care for his appeals.
The two Gunners stars both linked up to set up Walcott’s second, and then Giroud scored the game’s outstanding goal to clinch the match. The French striker, who replaced Danny Welbeck, has scored more Premier League goals as a substitute than anyone else this season – five. Arsenal should have had a penalty in injury time when Sam Byram brought down Nacho Monreal. The Gunners had to play their third-choice keeper, Emiliano Martinez, after injuries to Petr Cech and David Ospina. But the 24-year-old, on his first Premier League appearance since 2014, only had to make two saves in the game. Arsenal became the first Premier League side to score 100 goals in all competitions this season (currently 101).Theo Walcott has scored more Premier League goals against West Ham than he has against any other side (six).
Slaven Bilic’s side have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their past 12 away Premier League games. Arsenal have won both Premier League games against West Ham in a season on 10 occasions – more than they have against any other side. No player has made more errors leading to a goal than Darren Randolph this season (three, level with Simon Francis and John Stones). Mesut Ozil has scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the second time this season, with the other game being the reverse fixture against the Hammers. Olivier Giroud has scored more Premier League goals as a substitute than any other player this season (five). Emiliano Martinez has kept a clean sheet in three of the four Premier League games he’s started for Arsenal.