Match Report: West Ham 1 Arsenal 3
Arsenal spread some more Christmas cheer amongst their supporters, as they beat West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park, and dragged the Hammers down to 19th in the table.
With their last Premier League win coming against Fulham a month ago, West Ham needed a miracle if they was going to get anything from an Arsenal side that was flowing with confidence.
Arsene Wenger's men started strong in the Boxing Day clash.
A quick break from Arsenal saw Spanish playmaker Santi Cazorla cut inside of Joey O'Brien, but his shot was well blocked by James Collins.
Bacary Sagna's inviting ball was out of reach for Olivier Giroud and rolled out for a throw in.
At the other end, nidfield stalwart Mark Noble's superb curling free kick was no match for Wojciech Szczesny, and the Pole saved well from West Ham's sixth all time record appearance holder in Premier League matches.
After Theo Walcott's corner was expertly cleared by O'Brien, Cazorla tested the Hammers goal again with a powerful header from 20 yards out in the 17th minute, with Spanish keeper Adrian forced to make the catch.
Midfield powerhouse Mohammed Diame unleashed a rasping 25 yard piledriver which stung the hands of Szczesny, in West Ham's first effort on target.
Moments later, Arsenal's record signing Mesut Ozil found Walcott with a neat pass, but the English winger's first time side footed volley hit the side netting after 25 minutes.
Tricky midfielder Cazorla's 25 yard left footed effort went just over, while Giroud had a great opportunity to put the Gunners 1-0 to the good, but completely fluffed his one on one chance on the 34th minute.
On the 41st minute, after several chances to cross, Cazorla's low drive put Adrian to work, while Mesut Ozil's low cross was dying for someone to get on the end of it, but no yellow shirts were inside the six yard box to tap home.
After 44 minutes, Cazorla's free kick was well block by the wall, however, it fell to Mikel Arteta, and his 30 yard drive went just wide of the left hand post.
Left back Kieran Gibbs burst forward to deliver a low driven cross across the face of goal, but again, no Arsenal player was there to get any touch on it and it capped off a first half that should have seen Wenger's men ahead.
But the second half could not have started in any better fashion for the hosts.
Captain Kevin Nolan let rip from just outside the box, forcing a save from Szczesney, but his spill fell to Carlton Cole, who simply could not miss, and put the hosts in front.
West Ham came out of the second half a different team to the one in the first. Joe Cole's curling cross, met the head of O'Brien, whose header went narrowly wide, and almost doubled West Ham's advantage.
On the 62nd minute, Razvan Rat's early cross had Carlton Cole running on the end of it, but his touch went narrowly wide, and the chance of a brace for the 29 year old was missed.
Arsenal fought back. Adrian pulled off a superb double save, first from Cazorla's low effort from all of 25 yards; while the follow up landed to Ozil, but the German's placed shot hit the legs of the Spanish shot stopper making his home debut in the Premier League.
O'Brien made way for former Arsenal player; Guy Demel at this stage, while Aaron Ramsey came off for Lukas Podolski, who made his long awaited return from injury.
In the 70th minute, normality was restored, and the game was level, as England winger Theo Walcott cut inside of Rat, and his scuffed shot trundled under the keeper, and crawled past the line to put the game all square.
It was a mountain to climb three minutes later for West Ham as Lukas Podolski's cross skimmed the head of James Tomkins, and there was Walcott to bag his brace after a cool finish with his head to give the away side a deserved lead.
Cazorla's curling effort went wide of Adrian's goal, while West Ham made a substitution with captain, Nolan making way for Matt Taylor.
On the 78th minute the game was all over. After some typical Gunners build up play, Walcott's cross found Giroud, who laid it off to Podolski to fire past Adrian, to notch his first goal since the 23rd August, and ensure Arsenal remained top of the table for the New Year.
Nicklas Bendtner, who came on for Giroud, could have added to Sam Allardyce's woes when his shot across goal shaved the outside of the post.
Finally, Diame's knock down in the 93rd minute found Joe Cole, but his volley did not test Szczeney and now it looks as though the pressure is on Sam Allardyce to sort out the deepening problems at the east London club.