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Olivier Giroud scores, sets up another as Arsenal beats West Ham 3-0, cements 3rd place in EPL

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LONDON — Olivier Giroud scored for the fourth straight Premier League game and set up another goal in Arsenal's 3-0 win over West Ham on Saturday.

A fifth successive league victory cemented third place for Arsenal in the standings and put the team in good heart for its Champions League last-16 match at Monaco on Wednesday, when it needs to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the first leg.

The recalled Giroud fired a shot in off the post in first-half injury time for his 13th goal of the season in all competitions, capping sustained pressure in the opening 45 minutes.

Aaron Ramsey slotted home Giroud's pass for Arsenal's second in the 81st and Mathieu Flamini added another goal in the 84th with one of his first touches after entering as a substitute.

Arsenal has now won eight straight league games at home in a familiar surge in the second half of the season that is trimming the gap to second-place Manchester City in the race for Champions League qualification. Arsenal is six points above fifth-place Liverpool, whose game in hand is at Swansea on Monday.

PHOTO: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud, center, scores his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, March 14, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Arsenal's Olivier Giroud, center, scores his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, March 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

After a strong start to the season, West Ham is winless in seven league games as it drifts toward mid-table.

With a front four of Giroud, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal played arguably its most exciting attacking lineup for the first time this season and the quartet created chances immediately.

Walcott, who has been out of favor in recent weeks, spurned two decent chances — including one in front of an unguarded net when the ball rebounded out to him off West Ham goalkeeper Adrian.

The Spanish keeper also saved headers from Sanchez and Ramsey, before Giroud took the ball off Ramsey and smashed a left-footed shot that glanced off the post and into the net with seconds left in the half.

West Ham enjoyed more possession in the second half and but Arsenal held firm in defense and took its chances late on.

A flowing move ended with Giroud laying off a pass that Ramsey ran onto and steered a rising shot high into the net. Santi Cazorla then rolled an inviting pass along the six-yard box that fellow substitute Flamini gleefully tucked away.

Referee Chris Foy went off injured in the second half.

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PHOTO: Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, right, competes for the ball with West Ham United's Mark Noble during the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in London, Saturday, March 14, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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