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West Ham 1-2 Arsenal: Take the Money and Run

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A brief barrage to close the first half gave Arsenal a narrow victory.

Julian Finney/Getty Images

0-1 Santi Cazorla 41' (pen)
0-2 Danny Welbeck 44'
1-2 Cheikhou Kouyate 54'

Arsenal defeated West Ham United by a score of 2-1, and my goodness it was nervy. A good counterattacking performance led to two goals just before halftime, and the first-choice defense* -- together for the first time since September -- was able to hold off the Hammers late to preserve the win.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: I pretty much consider Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs to be equally good, so either one qualifies for first choice.

The first half was...dicey. West Ham maybe should have had an early lead as Alex Song blasted a long shot in after just five minutes, but the goal was called back for offside -- two Hammers were indeed offside in the path of the ball, but it was unclear whether the ball actually made contact. They were interfering with play, so it's probably the right call, but the fans were Angry. Let them be, I say.

West Ham had the better of the game for most of the first forty minutes, but the last five before halftime belonged to Arsenal. Cazorla drew a penalty on a run into the box, and took it himself, scoring cleanly. Just a couple of minutes later, some interplay between Mathieu Debuchy, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Cazorla freed The OC to run into the box and cross the ball to Welbeck, who finished well to double the lead.

West Ham found their feet to start the second half and after ten minutes were able to penetrate Arsenal's defenses, but frankly this was overall one of the better performances the back line has had in a while. Laurent Koscielny's return to action was a massive boost, Wojciech Szczesny and Debuchy were good, and you know, who would have thought that having your best players on the field would help?

The last ten minutes of the game were a barrage from West Ham, but although a last-minute header went just barely over, it did go over. Arsenal win, and as the only top six team to win, they took one step closer to the top four. With players starting to come back from injury, you can see the beginnings of a platform for things beyond that.

We didn't dominate, but I'll take a smash-and-grab (or something like it) over a well-played loss any day.

Your song of the day comes from the Steve Miller Band.