West Ham United inflicted a first home defeat on Arsenal back on 28 December. Though, It would be fair to say, the Gunners certainly turned the tables in their favour on Sunday afternoon, as they won 6-0 in Stratford, after they were knocked out of the Carabao Cup back in November.
David Moyes named an unchanged side from last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United and once again, youngsters Divin Mubama and Oliver Scarles were on the bench.
Declan Rice was amongst the Arsenal substitutes for the cup tie just over three months ago but he was in Mikel Arteta’s starting line-up here and a mixed reception greeted him once again.
The atmosphere inside the stadium was somewhat flat amongst the home supporters against AFC Bournemouth in their last home encounter but the fans were back to their best this time around and they were hoping to see a cracking London derby.
Arteta’s men had their chances throughout the first-half but for a while, it looked as if the Irons were up for the contest with the defence and goalkeeper Alphonse Areola keeping the away team at bay, particularly when both Bukayo Saka and Captain Martin Ødegaard tried their luck but the efforts were thankfully diverted wide.
The Hammers could have gone ahead early on but failed to do so and instead, firing straight at visiting goalkeeper David Raya.
The North London side opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark. Rice sent over a corner which William Saliba got a good connection to and headed past Areola.
The scoreline was kept down to one, due to Saka letting the home side off the hook however, that didn’t last too long, as referee Craig Pawson eventually awarded the Gunners a penalty after a lengthy VAR check for offside. Areola was booked for his part in the incident the spot kick was given.
The Arsenal Academy graduate stepped up and confidently beat Areola. By this point, the visitors were really in control and evidently, several West Ham heads had dropped.
Arsenal had really given their hosts a mountain to climb just three minutes later, as barring a miracle, they had put the game beyond any doubt at all. Just before the break, they were awarded a free-kick, which Rice sent in and the chance was finished off by Gabriel.
You would have thought that the scoring might have abated until after half-time at least but, no. There was another. Seven minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the half and that had barely begun when Leandro Trossard added to the pain for the East Londoners. After being played in by Ødegaard, the Belgian rifled the ball into the net, giving Areola no chance.
There is no shame in losing to a team like Arsenal but the way you go about it sometimes matters!!! This performance really did hurt the home fans as you could hear when Pawson blew the whistle to end the first-half.
Edson Álvarez was booked during the opening forty five minutes and he, along with Kurt Zouma was replaced at half-time with Moyes bringing on both Kalvin Phillips and Konstantinos Mavropanos.
Even that didn’t change the home team’s fortunes though the scoring wasn’t as relentless as it was before the interval.
The visitors knew that they had realistically won the game and were passing the ball amongst themselves with precision. Although those in Claret and Blue would have wanted to make amends for that dodgy spell prior to the break, their touches on the ball were extremely limited.
Arteta’s side clicked into gear again and on sixty three minutes, they scored once more. Saka received Ødegaard’s pass and he ran into space to add his second goal of the afternoon.
One person that the majority inside the stadium wouldn’t have wanted to be on the scoresheet was Rice. However, with West Ham’s game definitely not going to plan, the England midfielder sent another cracker into the net to all but condemn his former club to back-to-back defeats. To his credit though, the midfielder was in no mood to celebrate.
With the damage having been done, Moyes had to make sure that the margin of defeat didn’t get any worse. With that in mind, he made another change, as Aaron Cresswell came on for Emmerson Palmieri on seventy six minutes.
Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus did at least try to pull a goal back but Raya clearly wasn’t going to be beaten and after three minutes of stoppage time had been signalled, a hugely disappointing afternoon was brought to a close.
When the Irons were heavily defeated at Fulham back on December 10, they did bounce back with a victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Something similar will be needed at the City Ground when Moyes’ men travel to face Nottingham Forest on Saturday afternoon.