When the draw for the fourth-round of the Carabao Cup was made, few would have given West Ham United a chance of beating Arsenal but, under the floodlights in Stratford, anything can happen and the Hammers caused a major upset by knocking Mikel Arteta’s Gunners out of the competition, thanks to a 3-1 victory in their all Premier League tie on Wednesday night.
David Moyes made five changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Everton just three days earlier, as Łukasz Fabiański, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Tomáš Souček, Emmerson Palmieri and Saïd Benrahma all came into the starting line-up in place of Alphonse Areola, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio. On his 29th birthday, James Ward-Prowse was also included amongst the substitutes.
Arteta stated in his pre-match news conference on Tuesday that former West Ham Captain Declan Rice would be involved in the matchday squad and on fifty seven minutes, he entered the fray as a replacement for Jorginho.
Rather than the usual light show that precedes matches under the lights in East London, the club decided that a firework display would be more worthy of the occasion and it certainly gave the majority inside the stadium an extra boost.
Moyes hasn’t enjoyed the best of records against the Gunners so he would have wanted his team to get off to a good start here!!! To be fair, they did just that as with some quick passing to create inviting opportunities. They could have grabbed an early advantage when Mohammed Kudus played through Lucas Paquetá and despite both Jarrod Bowen and Benrahma being ahead of him, the ball only found its way back to Aaron Ramsdale in the visitors’ goal.
Although they were controlling possession for large periods, Arteta’s men weren’t applying any real pressure in the early stages of the encounter. That might have been different when Kai Havertz flicked on a free-kick from youngster Reiss Nelson but thankfully, Fabiański kept his former club at bay.
More exhilarating play from the Irons resulted in the first goal and once again, Kudus was at the heart of the move. A great ball from Edson Álvarez earned the hosts a corner, Bowen then took the set-piece and Arsenal defender Ben White inexplicably got his head to the ball and it ended up in the back of Ramsdale’s net. To say that the home fans enjoyed that moment was an understatement.
The goal did however spark Arteta’s men into life. White nearly made amends for his earlier mistake but fortunately, Fabiański was in the right place to thwart him again.
The resulting corner didn’t bring visitors any joy either, as Eddie Nketiah tried his luck but could only fire wide. Even when Leandro Trossard set his teammate up, he missed the target.
There were cheers from three sides of the stadium when referee Simon Hooper brought the first half to a close. The question for West Ham now was could they hold on, or even add to their lead?
No sooner had the action restarted than Paquetá played a great ball to Bowen and the former Hull City winger brought a superb save out of Ramsdale.
West Ham had been in control of this game throughout and they moved even further up the gears with fifty minutes gone. More great play from Moyes’ men brought a second goal and Kudus was the man to get his name on the scoresheet after linking up well with Nayef Aguerd. The move was finished off when the Ghanaian stuck the ball into the bottom corner of the net, giving Ramsdale no chance.
Rice was then sent on by Arteta to a mixed reception. This did seem rather baffling however, as he was given a standing ovation in the pre-match warm-up.
Just after the hour mark, the East Londoners had all but booked their place in the quarter-final when Bowen sent a rocket of a shot flying past the former AFC Bournemouth and Sheffield United stopper. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t keep it out.
Gunners’ Captain Martin Ødegaard was introduced with ten minutes of normal time to play, as the visitors looked to stage a late fightback. Having just come onto the pitch, he tested Fabiański but the Pole was equal to the defender’s effort.
Seconds after Ødegaard had entered the fray, it was time for Moyes to make his first change. Ward-Prowse took the place of Benrahma.
Eight minutes after the introduction of Ward-Prowse, the Irons’ boss made another substitution, as Thilo Kehrer was introduced for Kudus.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added before the home support could start celebrating in earnest. On the other hand, the away end was slowly emptying when, with just seconds to go, Ødegaard beat the Pole.
There were literally no time to make the scoreline more interesting, as Hooper’s next whistle was the final one and the East Londoners were in the quarter-finals. However, if you thought a home game with Arsenal sounded tough, the draw has handed them a meeting with Liverpool at Anfield.
The tie will be played on Wednesday 20 December with kick-off at 8pm and has already been selected for live TV coverage by Sky Sports.
The team stay in London prior to that though, as it is a trip to The Gtech Community Stadium where they take on Brentford on Saturday afternoon.