MANAGER Arsene Wenger felt Arsenal finally delivered the required response after they blew West Ham away with four goals in the space of 10 minutes at the start of the second half to run out 5-1 winners at Emirates Stadium.
The Gunners had slumped to successive 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 last night's rearranged St Stephen's 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.
"We got a good response," said Wenger.
"I could not predict that we would score five goals, but what was vital for us was to equalise before half-time and then see if West Ham could maintain their control of us.
"In the second half from the start we created chance after chance and played at a very high pace. From there on it was great movement, great quality in our final balls and in our combination play.
"Until Potts got injured of course, after that it was the end of the game because we played 11 against 10 and it was (already) 5-1."
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 again.
Wenger added: "I never felt that the players didn't know how important it is. I was more worried that they are a bit sometimes inhibited in the recent big games from the start on.
"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 admitted the start to the second half had been "a horrible 12 minutes for us".
He added: "When you concede as early (in the second half) as we did and they get into top gear, you have to give their players credit for their top spell.
"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.
"My strategy was working brilliantly until half time, I had planned to introduce fresh legs and talent.
"But by the time I blocked it up, they were 5 ahead. It was the worst 45 minutes I've suffered this season."
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 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.