Arsene Wenger encourages Arsenal side to believe in their quality

Gunners thrashed West Ham 5-1 last night

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger challenged his side to continue to believe in their quality and secure a successful end to the season after they romped to a 5-1 Barclays Premier League win over West Ham at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners had slumped to successive league defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea to leave them facing an uphill battle to regain a place in the top four.

Wenger knew there was no more margin for error, but must have feared another night of frustration after falling behind in tonight's rearranged Boxing Day fixture to a fine strike from Jack Collison.

However, Lukas Podolski crashed in a 25-yard effort to equalise before the break.

Olivier Giroud then scored his first goal in six games to put the hosts in front just after the restart before German forward Podolski tore the Irons apart, charging down the left to set up Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Giroud again as Arsenal romped out of sight before the hour.

West Ham had to play the closing stages with 10 men after what looked a serious injury to substitute Daniel Potts, who was carried off on a stretcher following a serious head injury and kept in hospital overnight for observation.

The Gunners now head to Brighton on Saturday looking to keep alive their FA Cup hopes, before next week's visit of Liverpool will again put the character of Wenger's squad to the test if they are to close back within striking distance of Champions League qualification.

"I never felt that the players didn't know how important it is. I was more worried that they are sometimes a bit inhibited in the recent big games from the start on," Wenger said.

"But this team has a fantastic mentality and good quality, that's what we want to show until the end of the season now."

West Ham's evening was overshadowed by Potts' injury, with the player set to spend the night under observation after momentarily being knocked unconscious.

Irons boss Sam Allardyce said: "Potts was unable to give the correct answers to the questions the doctor asked, which shows a concussion to the brain.

"They put him on the oxygen and strapped him just to make sure there was no damage to the spine or the neck.

"He was out for a few seconds, maybe a minute and was not fully conscious when he came off.

"We were concerned at how long it took. They have to make sure they protect the spine the right way getting them on the stretcher; that is why it took the time it did.

"Hopefully he will make a speedy recovery. As he lost consciousness it is a minimum of two weeks I think before he can play again."

Allardyce admitted the start to the second half had been "a horrible 12 minutes for us".

He added: "Sometimes you can't live with the opposition when they are in top form.

"You wonder what Arsenal are going to be like when they have lost two on the trot, once we opened up they tore us apart."

Reported Arsenal target Mohamed Diame came off the bench for West Ham with 20 minutes left.

Allardyce, though, maintained as yet there had been no concrete offer for the combative Senegal midfielder.

"There is speculation and disruption, but we have had no bids from the type of clubs that have been speculated about," he said.

PA

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