Arsenal took a big step toward ensuring UEFA Champions League football stays in north London with a resounding 3-0 win over West Ham United.
In a dominant display, goals from Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini proved too much for the Hammers, despite a spirited performance.
In a highly entertaining first half, the Gunners were on top as they had several chances to open the scoring, yet the Hammers had an inspired Adrian to thank as he pulled off a string of excellent saves.
The Gunners managed to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Olivier Giroud struck a fierce shot in off the far post, leaving the Spanish goalkeeper little chance of getting his gloves to it.
While the north London outfit enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, Sam Allardyce’s men had a handful of chances of their own – the best fell to captain Kevin Nolan as he volleyed Matt Jarvis’ pinpoint cross goal bound forcing a smart save from David Ospina.
The warning signs for Allardyce’s men had been there from the off as Theo Walcott burst through the backline twice in the opening five minutes, only to be halted by a last ditch tackle from James Collins. Replays suggested the Welshmen had clipped the England international’s heels, however referee Chris Foy waved away the appeals.
Into the second half, the Hammers appeared to gather themselves as they began to enjoy more territory and possession. Diafra Sakho was a constant menace to the Arsenal backline, however he was too often isolated up front.
The Claret and Blues best chance of finding an equaliser fell to Matt Jarvis whose shot flew narrowly over after Stewart Downing’s corner fell to the winger just inside the box.
While the Hammers pressed for an equalizer, they left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack. Mesut Ozil went closest to doubling the lead for Arsene Wenger’s side, however Adrian, again, was on hand to save his side.
Sensing that Arsenal’s missed opportunities may come back to haunt them, Wenger bought on reinforcements in the shape of Danny Welbeck and Santi Cazorla to try and seal the victory. As the game wore on, it became an increasingly more frantic affair with tempers beginning to boil over.
The game was put beyond doubt ten minutes from time when Aaron Ramsey capped off an impressive performance with the Gunners' second of the match. The Welsh midfielder stabbed home from close range following a skilful 1-2 with Olivier Giroud after a quickly taken throw in.
As the Hammers began to tire, Allardyce brought on Nene in the hope of finding some inspiration yet it was Arsenal substitute Matheiu Flamini who sealed the victory with his first touch, rolling the ball home from three yards out from fellow replacement Cazorla's low cross.
Arsenal: Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker (c), Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcott (Cazorla 72), Ozil (Flamini 83), Sanchez (Welbeck 65), Giroud
Subs: Szczesny, Gibbs, Akpom, Bellerin
West Ham United: Adrian, O'Brien, Collins, Kouyate, Cresswell, Song, Noble (Nene 82), Nolan (c), Jarvis (Amalfitano 75), Downing, Sakho
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Onariase, Poyet, Cullen