Arsenal are back into fourth place, at least temporarily. They started extremely slow against West Ham United on Tuesday, but put together a solid second half performance to earn a 3-1 win that puts them a point up on Everton ahead of the Toffees' match against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
The game started with a slow pace as neither side looked like they knew how they wanted to attack. It was sloppy, with lots of giveaways in midfield, and took until late in the first half to get entertaining.
Olivier Giroud wasn't at his best in the first half, as he missed a couple of clear chances. He was in the perfect spot to get on the end of a drilled cross to the near post in the 13th minute, but stuck out his leg too late and completely whiffed. In the 29th minute, he was played clear through on goal, but passed up an opportunity to take a right-footed shot that probably would have beaten Adrian to attempt a chip with his left foot, which was saved easily.
There was also a bit of controversy early on, when Matthew Jarvis was penalized for playing on instead of going down easily when he was fouled in the box. He was very clearly clipped in the legs by Bacary Sagna in the 15th minute, but kept going after the ball and, as a result, no penalty was given.
Jarvis would go on to score, however, and his header sparked the game to life in the 40th minute. The goal was set up by an excellent run into the box by Antonio Nocerino, which Kim Källstrom failed to track. Nocerino took a shot from a narrow angle that was saved, but Laurent Koscielny's clearance afterward deflected back towards the top of the six-yard box. Jarvis was in the perfect spot and headed it into the empty net.
It only took Arsenal four minutes to hit back, though they only scored thanks to some extremely lazy defending by Stewart Downing. He kicked an awful clearance right into an Arsenal player, then stood still near the endline. That kept Lukas Podolski onside when the ball was played into him by Santi Cazorla, and the German international finished from 10 yards.
Arsenal took the lead just 10 minutes into the second half, thanks to a brilliant piece of skill from Giroud, who turned a terrible performance into a positive one with just one move. After a corner by Cazorla was cleared out of the box, Thomas Vermaelen sent the ball back into the box towards the back post, where Giroud took the ball down with an excellent first touch, then finished with his second.
Podolski completed a brace and sealed the result for Arsenal in the 78th minute with a classy strike into the roof of the net, at the end of an excellent move. Giroud hit a pass that was behind Aaron Ramsey from the left flank to set up the chance, but Ramsey adjusted perfectly to play a ball right into the path of Podolski. He settled himself, then blasted past Adrian to double Arsenal's lead.
From there, West Ham had no way back into the game, and Arsenal held on for a crucial three points to put the pressure on Everton.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna, Källstrom, Arteta, Podolski, Cazorla (Jenkinson 88'), Rosicky (Ramsey 72'), Giroud
Goals: Podolski (44'), Giroud (55')
West Ham: Adrian, Armero, Tomkins, Reid, Demel, Noble, Diame, Nocerino, Jarvis (Vaz Te 78'), Carroll (C. Cole 84'), Downing (J. Cole 78')
Goals: Jarvis (40')