Walcott fires Arsenal top of EPL with West Ham win

Theo Walcott scored twice as Arsenal returned to the top of the

English Premier League by fighting back to win 3-1 at West Ham on

Thursday.

Arsenal fell behind when goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny spilled

Kevin Nolan’s shot and Carlton Cole pounced to score a minute into

the second half.

West Ham goalkeeper Adrian was also culpable for Arsenal’s

equalizer, with Walcott cutting in from the right and striking

between his legs in the 68th.

Walcott headed Arsenal in front three minutes later, and Lukas

Podolski netted in the 79th to ensure a three-game winless run in

the league ended.

”From our disappointing results in the last few games it’s nice

to get a good positive away win,” Walcott told BT Sport. ”It’s

great to be top but it’s going to be a very tough league this year,

everyone is very tight, a lot of people are taking a lot of points

off each other so we’ve just got to make sure we look after

ourselves.”

Arsenal displaced Liverpool from top spot, with the Reds

dropping to fourth after losing 2-1 at Manchester City. Arsenal is

two points ahead of Chelsea, which beat Swansea 1-0 on Boxing Day

when every team was in action.

The only blot on the win was the 23-year-old Aaron Ramsey being

forced off with an apparent thigh strain.

”The Christmas period is certainly over for him. It was his

birthday today,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. ”I don’t

know how long it will be. We will have to see tomorrow morning. He

knew straight away, but we have to see.”

This was not a victory without other worrying moments for

Arsenal.

It began a spell of pressure that belied West Ham’s insipid

first-half display, but it was brought to an abrupt end when

Walcott’s shot somehow evaded Adrian in the 68th.

Walcott cut in from the right and unleashed a hopeful strike

that slipped through Adrian’s grasp.

Three minutes later the match was turned on its head.

Podolski, brought on after Ramsey took a knock, swung in a fine

cross from the left and Walcott ghosted in to power home a header

from close range.

It was quite the impact by Podolski in his first appearance

since a hamstring injury in August.

There would also be a goal for the Germany forward as Giroud

held up the ball for Podolski to bury a strike into the bottom

corner to put the game out of sight.

The result saw Sam Allardyce’s West Ham slip into the bottom

three.

”We had three golden chances after we scored – Matt Jarvis in

the box, one-on-one, Joey O’Brien’s free header in the six-yard box

and Carlton Cole’s side-foot tap,” Allardyce said. ”We paid the

price because what Arsenal do then is take more and more chances

when they are losing.

”It was either going to be us getting that second goal and then

we would have made sure we tightened it up or they’d score.”