Clinical Arsenal finishing destroys West Ham

Posted by Andrew Mangan

It's been a feature of Arsenal's recent performances that the second half has been far superior to the first.

It was the same story Wednesday night, and while the first half was nowhere near as damaging as it was against Chelsea and Man City, the second saw the Gunners play as well as they have all season in their 5-1 win.

After a fairly even first 45, which saw both sides score fine goals, the visitors were simply blown away by Arsene Wenger's side as they came screaming out of the blocks. The Hammers could have been behind inside 20 seconds when James Tomkins put a Theo Walcott cross just wide of his own goal, and it was a taste of things to come.

Arsenal scored four time in 10 minutes, a flurry that ended the match as a contest and showed why Wenger continually talks up the quality of the players he has – even if results and performances leave onlookers nonplussed at times. What stood out most of all, however, was the quality of Arsenal's finishing.

Each goal was brilliantly executed, from Lukas Podolski's rocket of an equaliser to sublime flicks from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud, to Walcott's calm far-post finish after the impressive German set him up with a cross from the left. Too often this season they've fluffed their lines in front of goal - not Wednesday - and West Ham had no answer.

It's certainly the most clinical Arsenal have been this season, despite big wins over Southampton and Newcastle. While the loss of Robin van Persie will be bemoaned every time a result goes against them, Podolski and Giroud now have 22 goals between them. With the adaptation period to English football well and truly behind them, it's not unreasonable to hope both can contribute more between now and the end of the season.

With Walcott on 15 goals and Cazorla on seven, there are reasons to be optimistic, and if a bit more firepower is added before the transfer window closes then all the better.

It was the perfect antidote to what has been a fairly miserable month and perhaps it showed there's a little more strength in the squad than people like to think. Given a start in midfield, Aaron Ramsey had a good game, building on some solid cameos from the bench, and with Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin and Mikel Arteta injured, showed he can do a job there.

His performance was more disciplined, not punctuated by the overly ambitious dilly-dallying that has caused plenty to question him. While it's just one game it can only be viewed as a positive and hopefully it's something he can build on.

One swallow does not a summer make, as Arsenal fans will know well, so it's important they carry this momentum into Saturday's FA Cup game against Brighton (who have nothing to lose) and then to next week's more difficult game against a Liverpool side who are finding some form.

But after a few weeks of gloomy introspection, it was a night to enjoy a fine performance, some brilliant finishing and a glimpse of what this Arsenal team is capable of when they click.

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