This was the season on the line. If Arsenal had dropped points against the Hammers they might have as well kissed the last CL spot goodbye. Well, OK, that might be a bit hyperbolic but you get my point. It looked ominous as the first half yielded a familiar statistic, Arsenal going behind as Olivier Giroud's clearance from a corner presented Jack Collison with a tempting volley which he crashed past a flailing Wojciech Szczesny.
Why Arsenal could be arsed playing the first half is beyond anyone and they should set up a contract with the EPL that they be allowed to play only the second half. Knowing them, they would promptly proceed to treat it as the first half and without the other half to respond, go behind 0-37, which would mean 2000 goals conceded in a single season which if this makes one feel better is less than the number of BFs that Taylor Swift collects in a single day but unfortunately still makes for a comparable data point. Ouch.
My point is that it is useless predicting how Arsenal plays. We can only be happy that they pulled their socks up the way they did against West Ham. And it was quite the pulling up as Lukas Podolksi got them going with a an immense piledriver. When have we mentioned Arsenal and a piledriver in the same breath? Never. Usually they love to walk the ball in. But hold on, Giroud fronted the defense at the near post and cleverly diverted Walcott's low corner past Jussi Jaskaalainen. When have we mentioned an Arsenal corner and goal in the same breath? Never. Usually Arsenal pours in the lamest corners and a stoned duckbill platypus with gout couldn't have an easier time hauling them in.
Santi Cazorla was the tricksiest though with his sensitively timed back heel goal after Poldi fed him with a sweet cross. When have we mentioned Arsenal and a back heel goal? Never. It is always Cesc Fabregas giving it away to Barca or Drogba killing us. Then came Walcott with Poldi curling a cross across the face of goal and the 90,000 per week man lashed it in without elaboration. When have we mentioned Arsenal and no elaboration? Never. Arsenal's approach work into the box is akin to Mendelian genetics. Who carries the gene? No one knows but the results are someone gets fu*ked without the Christmas factor. And then it was Poldi again running riot on the left and sending a sweet cross for Giroud darting forward between two West Ham defenders to flick it cleverly to the far post. When have we mentioned ...... never mind. It was all good today.
The win was marred by the sickening way Daniel Potts came down in a helicopter like crash (graphic) after accidentally colliding with Bakary Sagna and then lay insensate for 10 minutes as medics worked on him before stretchering him off. One hopes he comes out on top. Keeping fingers crossed.
Arsenal has a goal advantage against its competitors for the fourth spot and in a tight race, is a great thing to have. We have seen these before, a 6-1 Soton blowout, a 5-3 thrashing of Spurs, a 5-2 sending off of Reading, a 7-3 outpouring against the Toons, and now a 5-1 dispatching of the Hammers. But juxtaposed between is a more familiar trend of deflating defeats and enervating stalemates. Going forward there is no leeway for such lapses as time runs out.