Arsenal scored an astonishing four goals in 10 minutes at the start of the second half to defeat a shell-shocked West Ham 5-1 at the Emirates on Wednesday.
At the point it must have seemed a distant memory to the visitors that it was they that had taken the lead in the Premier League contest through Jack Collison’s fine early strike. Lukas Podolski soon responded with a scorching effort of his own to level things up by half-time and the German would play a crucial role in what was to follow after the break.
After Olivier Giroud had been allowed to score from a near-post corner, Podolski then laid on three quick-fire goals, first for Santi Cazorla, then for Theo Walcott, followed by a second for Giroud.
Having lost two matches in succession to leave his side seven points off the all-important fourth-place in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger will have been delighted as Arsenal extended their impressive record over West Ham to nine wins in their last 11 meetings.
To West Ham’s cost, the Gunners again demonstrated that when given license to play, they can be a thrilling attacking side.
It appeared as if it was going to be another trying 90 minutes for Arsenal fans in the early stages, however. Matthew Taylor had already had a shot from the edge of the box deflected over the bar before Collison made no mistake with his effort 18 minutes into the match.
Arsenal failed to adequately clear a corner and the ball went straight to the Welshman who controlled before striking the ball with venom from the edge of the area to send it soaring past Wojciech Szczesny.
But whatever Collison could do, Podolski went and did even better just four minutes later. Receiving a little chipped ball from Jack Wilshere 25 yards out, Podolski controlled neatly and then unleashed an unstoppable left-footed drive into the far corner.
Podolski almost put his side in front before the break. Arsenal provided a glimpse of what was to come in the second half as some lovely interplay involving Giroud, Gibbs and Podolski saw the full back pull it back to the former Cologne man but he could only scuff a right footed shot that was cleared before reaching the goal by Joey O’Brien.
Just two minutes into the second half, West Ham’s evening began to fall apart. The visitors switched off criminally from a corner from the right and, spotting the run of Giroud to the near post, Walcott swung the ball in low and the Frenchman met the ball crisply on the volley and sent it cannoning off Jaaskelainen and into the net.
Six minutes later it was 3-1. A delightful one-two between Giroud and Podolski allowed the latter to square the ball across the six-yard box for Cazorla, who adapted his body well as he was challenged to flick the ball into the net.
Podolski was involved again as Arsenal further cut West Ham’s cavernous defense wide open in a breathtaking spell. This time the forward was played into acres of space down the left and he picked the early pass perfectly to find Walcott bursting clear at the far post and the England man provided an impish finish over the goalkeeper.
Just days after signing a new deal with West Ham, Guy Demel was enduring an evening to forget. He was exposed once more in the right back spot as Arsenal quickly added a fifth. Podolski was again allowed to race clear and square the ball into the box, this time Giroud was the lucky recipient as he turned the ball past Jaaskelainen.
Arsenal cruised through the final 30 minutes, which were halted for close to 10 minutes for what appeared a nasty injury to young left-back Daniel Potts.