West Ham United-Arsenal Preview

The Associated Press

For a few days at least, all is right with Arsenal.

The pressure cooker, though, will again heat up Tuesday at the Emirates, where the Gunners resume their chase of a top-four spot in a key all-London clash with West Ham.

The clamour for silverware has grown louder over the years and appears to be reaching a crescendo to the ears of Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman is trying to avoid a barren trophy case for the ninth straight season, and Arsenal (19-7-7) kept those hopes alive in nerve-wracking fashion Saturday by ousting Championship side and reigning trophy holders Wigan Athletic on penalties in the FA Cup semifinals.

''It was important mentally,'' the Arsenal manger said. ''If you imagine the consequences of going out tonight, it would have been quite worrying.''

The Gunners did not find the equaliser until the 82nd minute, when defender Per Mertesacker - whose foul led to Wigan converting a penalty kick for the match's first goal - headed home a cross by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. After a decisive goal could not be found in extra time, goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski denied Gary Caldwell and Jack Collison from the spot while Arsenal converted all four of their attempts to secure passage to the final.

"I've got to give Lukasz all the credit to him," Oxlade-Chamberlain told Arsenal's official website. "Whenever he's played for us, he's been absolutely superb. He's the hero for us today. Full credit to him - he's an unbelievable professional."

Wenger's side now get thrown back into the rigours of the Premier League, where they enter play two points behind Everton for the final Champions League qualifying spot. Arsenal are winless in their last four league matches (0-2-2) after being overrun 3-0 by the Toffees at Goodison Park on April 6, and a prolonged spell of patchy play in which they've gone 2-3-4 essentially scuttled their chances at any title hopes.

"I think if we win our games we will finish in front," Wenger said. "For us it's important now to focus on the Premier League and if we do that well I'm confident we will come back. On top of that we have a target now for the end of the season. We have a final in the FA Cup but we now have a period where we can concentrate on the Premier League."

West Ham (10-7-16) are 11th in the table on 37 points and seven clear of the drop, but a win for Sam Allardyce's club would go a long way towards preserving top-flight status for next season. The Hammers proved a game opponent for front-running Liverpool on April 6, but fouls that led to converted penalty kicks on either side of halftime proved their undoing in a 2-1 loss to the Reds at Upton Park.

"We put in a good effort and were hard done by with the two penalties we gave away and losing the game to that," said striker Andy Carroll, who had a header bounce off the crossbar in the second half. "But we put ourselves about and were in the game all the way to the end."

Arsenal won the reverse fixture 3-1 on Boxing Day behind a second-half brace from Theo Walcott in a three-minute span that wiped out Carlton Cole's goal early in the second half for West Ham. Lukas Podolski secured the three points with a goal in the 79th minute for the Gunners, who have won six straight between the teams in league play by a combined 17-3 scoreline and are unbeaten in the last 11 (9-2-0) since a 1-0 home loss April 7, 2007. West Ham have tallied only five goals during their 11-match winless run.

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