Arsenal vs West Ham match report: Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini see Gunners home in London derby

Arsenal 3 West Ham United 0

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The Independent Football

It’s the scoreline they need in the Champions League on Tuesday, and a win that goes some way to returning Arsenal to the competition next season – but it led to even bigger questions: like what this ultimately easy win over West Ham can do for a potential title challenge.

Goals from the excellent Olivier Giroud, Aaron Ramsey and substitute Mathieu Flamini left them in buoyant mood ahead of trying to overturn a 3-1 deficit in Monaco, and made it eight wins from nine in the League.

So, given they are just six points behind Chelsea, albeit having played two games more, does Arsène Wenger believe his side are in the race? “Not at the moment,” he said, though not totally ruling the prospect out. “We just keep going.”

Wenger did insist that it was only the effects of the World Cup that prevented title form earlier in the season: “Today we are a different team. We suffered a lot post-World Cup.

“[The players] understand each other much better than six-seven months ago, that makes everyone more dangerous.”

Theo Walcott started in just his third Premier League game of the season

That could be certainly seen throughout this game, not least for the brilliant first goal. Arsenal had battered West Ham back for the entirety of the first half, only to see Adrian – who played despite dislocating a finger in the warm-up – beating every effort away. It seemed like it was going to be one of those afternoons, until Arsenal put one of those glorious moves together.

Mesut Özil, Ramsey and Giroud interchanged supremely, before the striker checked inside and smashed in off the post. A wait was lifted in this game, and it seems a weight lifted for Giroud. The striker missed chances against Monaco, but this made it two in two starts since.

Giroud fires in the opening goal on the stroke of half-time

Wenger praised his mental fortitude. “It’s one of his strengths. This is a boy who played at 22-23 in [Division Two]. You need mental strength for that. There’s no red carpet there.” His first strike might have been worthy of a red carpet.

“It’s the type of goal we love to score,” Wenger gushed. There were more. Although West Ham came back strongly in the second half – in a period disrupted by referee Chris Foy having to be replaced by fourth official Anthony Taylor because of a calf strain – Arsenal eventually made sure. On 82 minutes, Giroud played a fine one-two with Ramsey for the Welsh midfielder to finish, before Flamini slotted in the third three minutes later.

Ramsey celebrates after making sure for Arsenal

Mathieu Flamini scored with virtually his first touch

“We have a little belief,” Wenger said of the Monaco second leg. “If you have no belief, you have no chance. We have to have belief and give everything.”

Arsenal: (4-2-3-1) Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Ramsey; Walcott (Cazorla, 73), Ozil (Flamini, 83), Sanchez (Welbeck, 66); Giroud.

West Ham United: (4-4-1-1) Adrian; O’Brien, Collins, Kouyate, Cresswell; Song; Downing, Noble (Nene, 82), Nolan, Jarvis (Amalfitano, 76); Sakho.

Referee: Chris Foy (Anthony Taylor, 59).

Man of the match: Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)

Match rating: 7/10