Walcott brace lifts Gunners
Theo Walcott (Getty Images)
London -Theo Walcott has scored twice as Arsenal got their Premier League
challenge back on track by coming from behind to win 3-1 at West Ham
United on Thursday.
Carlton Cole gave West Ham a surprise lead
early in the second half before Walcott scored a fortuitous equaliser
and then headed Arsenal in front.
Substitute Lukas Podolski, who
created Walcott's second goal, then scored the third on his comeback
from injury, as Arsenal ended a run of five games without victory in all
Walcott's first benefited from an uncertain dive by
West Ham goalkeeper Adrian, but the England winger has now scored in
his last four league appearances against West Ham.
It was Arsenal's seventh consecutive victory over their London rivals and sent Sam Allardyce's side into the bottom three.
made one change to the team that had drawn 0-0 with Chelsea on Monday,
with Santi Cazorla replacing Tomas Rosicky in midfield.
made four changes to the team beaten 3-1 by Manchester United, including
the return from a three-match suspension of captain Kevin Nolan.
Carlton Cole, a scoring substitute at Old Trafford, started this time, as did Joe Cole and Joey O'Brien.
Tomkins, meanwhile, was available for the Hammers despite being charged
with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and being drunk and
disorderly at an Essex nightclub on Sunday.
West Ham tried to feed
Matt Jarvis on the left when possible in the early stages, but one
cross that Wojciech Szczesny punched away was their only threatening
moment in the first 10 minutes.
After that Arsenal began to dominate, and Adrian made a flying save from a header by Cazorla.
Ham's response had been limited: a swerving free-kick by Mark Noble
that forced Szczesny to palm the ball away and a shot from Mohamed Diame
that Szczesny only caught at the second attempt.
minutes, Walcott escaped George McCartney to run onto Aaron Ramsey's
floated pass, but, unchallenged, he volleyed past the post with only
Adrian to beat.
Now it seemed to be the Arsenal attack against the West Ham defence.
reacted too late as Mezut Ozil pulled the ball back across goal, Mikel
Arteta volleyed just wide, and Olivier Giroud failed to connect with a
low cross from Kieran Gibbs.
But West Ham also made a good opening
when Mark Noble lifted a quick free-kick over the Arsenal wall, only
for Nolan to fail to make decent contact.
It was a warning to
Arsenal to take their chances, but they did not heed it and in the first
minute of the second half, West Ham took the lead.
clearance fell into the path of Nolan, who was allowed to shoot
unchallenged from 20 yards. Szczesny could not hold the ball and Cole
smacked home the rebound.
Szczesny made up for that by blocking
Jarvis's shot on the turn, but he was nowhere as Joey O'Brien stole in
unmarked to glance a header just wide.
Soon, however, Arsenal were
camped in the West Ham half. Adrian parried from Cazorla, then somehow
got in the way of Mezut Ozil's follow-up effort.
In the 68th minute, the pressure finally told.
cut in from the right and tried a left-foot shot that found its way in
past two defenders and through the hands of the unsighted Adrian.
minutes later, Podolski's cross from the left took a slight deflection
off the forehead of Tomkins at the near post and Walcott reacted more
quickly than the defenders to head firmly home.
from time, Giroud nudged Walcott's right-wing cross back into the path
of Podolski, who smashed the ball past Adrian from 18 yards.