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Theo Walcott scored twice in three second-half minutes as Arsenal came from behind to beat struggling West Ham United 3-1 at the Boleyn Ground.
The England winger's quickfire double got Arsenal's title hopes back on track after a run of three Barclays Premier League matches without a win and ensured London rivals West Ham dropped into the relegation zone.
Arsene Wenger's side had to respond to falling behind to Carlton Cole's 46th minute tap in following a mistake from Wojciech Szczesny.
Walcott levelled in the 68th minute with a shot that slipped under the body of Adrian, before sending a powerful header home after meeting a cross from the returning Lukas Podolski, who was introduced after Aaron Ramsey had hobbled off with a muscle strain.
Podolski himself sealed the win 11 minutes from time, marking his first appearance since August after a lay-off with a hamstring injury in style with a well taken goal from Olivier Giroud's lay-off.
Kevin Nolan returned from suspension as Sam Allardyce made four changes, while Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla came in for Tomas Rosicky.
The hosts started strongly and Mark Noble tested Szczesny with a curling free-kick from the corner of the penalty area in the 10th minute.
Arsenal responded well and tested Adrian for the first time five minutes later, the goalkeeper leaping to his right to keep out Cazorla's powerful header from the edge of the box.
Mohamed Diame sent in a rasping drive from 30 yards, which Szczesny gathered at the second attempt in the 25th minute.
In an end-to-end first half, Arsenal pressed on the break regularly and Walcott ought to have given his side the lead a minute later, when he volleyed wide from eight yards after being picked out by Ramsey's chipped pass.
Cazorla then fizzed a 20-yard shot a foot over Adrian's crossbar before Giroud scuffed his shot wide 30 seconds later when through on goal. The visitors continued to press for the opener, Mikel Arteta sending his volley a yard wide from the edge of the box a minute before the break.
A minute into the second half Arsenal were left stunned when Cole put the hosts in front as he turned home a rebound from seven yards after Szczesny had spilled Nolan's shot from the edge of the box.
Sam Allardyce’s side then had three clear chances to double the advantage in the next 10 minutes, Szczesny beating away Matt Jarvis' effort before Joey O'Brien and Cole were both missed the target from close range.
O'Brien headed wide when unmarked eight yards out, before Cole poked an effort of target from similar range.
Arsenal threatened an equaliser on the hour-mark, Adrian denying Cazorla before reacting smartly to keep out Mesut Ozil's follow-up with his legs.
The equaliser did arrive eight minutes later, Walcott cutting inside before scuffing a tame left-footed effort towards goal that Adrian somehow allowed to squirm through his grasp and into the net.
Three minutes later the turnaround was complete when Walcott headed home Podolski's left-wing cross to make it four goals in his last three matches.
Adrian rushed from his line to deny Podolski two minutes later, but the Germany international was not to be denied a goal as he lashed home a first-time effort after good hold-up play by Giroud to seal Arsenal's fifth win in six visits to Upton Park.
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: "We let it slip through our fingers today. We had three golden chances after we scored and we've paid the price because what Arsenal do is take more and more chances. It was either going to be us getting the second or they'd score and that's exactly what happened sadly. It was a great opportunity to beat a top of the league team and unfortunately we didn't take it and paid the price.
"Our big games are West Brom and Fulham in the next two games. It's about performing like that against those clubs which gives you a chance of winning the game. We've got to believe we will convert the chances as we did in the home game against Fuham. West Brom is becoming a must-win game so we've got to go out without being over-anxious or over-ambitious because if we start leaving back doors open and conceding too many goals we're going to have to score more."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We controlled the game but felt we had a difficult period where the game could have changed. That was in the first 10 minutes of the second half when West Ham scored and they had a header from a cross, which could have been 2-0.
"That was certainly the turning point of that game and after that we had plenty of chances. We couldn't take our chances in the first half and we responded very well in second half, in the end winning the game in a convincing way.
"I have confidence in my team - I have confidence but I also worry. That is the nature of the game, you always worry. I am proud of the character of this team because they are always focused and try to do well. They responded, but football is football."
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|11 May 2014||v Man City (A)|