Arsenal Back on Form: Does 5-1 Win Show Gunners Will Make Top 4 Again?

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistJanuary 23, 2013

Arsenal produced one of the halves of the season in the Premier League to rip opponents West Ham United to pieces, scoring four times early in the second half at the Emirates en route to a 5-1 victory.

It ultimately won three points for the Gunners, nothing more than that at this point, but could it be the springboard for them to go on and seal a top-four place yet again?

With rivals Tottenham Hotspur showing most impressive consistency and taking the fourth and final Champions League qualifying place recently, Arsenal will have to up their game if they want to continue their proud record of reaching the elite Continental competition.

Trailing Spurs by seven points before the start of the West Ham United match, the Gunners could ill-afford to continue the inconsistencies that had seen them win only four of their past nine league games.

Conceding early on against West Ham might have put the biggest of obstacles in their way, but Lukas Podolski was in inspired form. It was his rapid equaliser that lay the ground work, but Arsenal's blistering four-goal haul after half-time was what made fans believe that a top-four spot was still possible.

Arsenal need much more than a single win against a newly promoted team with a notoriously poor away record to show their real top-four credentials.

There remain doubts concerning the quality of players Arsene Wenger has brought in to replace those who left the Gunners last summer:

Look at the players Arsenal let go and rightly so for a lot of money ...and who they replaced them with ...One Cazorla doesn't make a summer

— Didi Hamann (@DietmarHamann) January 23, 2013

Are the newest recruits good enough to overhaul the remaining gap between Spurs—or perhaps the faltering Chelsea, a further four points ahead—and themselves?

The Champions League itself provides another distraction soon to be re-started, while the lesser-spotted trophy cabinet of the Emirates Stadium will yearn to be filled once more with the FA Cup—Arsenal play Brighton on Saturday.

Wenger's attentions, however, will likely be entirely focused on maintaining Arsenal's spot in the top four.

The coming weeks see the Gunners take on Liverpool and Stoke City at home, with the North London derby against Spurs to follow in March.

A terrific performance against West Ham shows that the Gunners can do the business against the sides lower down the league no problem. It is how they fare against tougher opposition over the next six weeks, though, that will determine whether they maintain their status as one of the top-four sides in the Premier League.