Declan Rice’s long-range goal capped a stunning demolition of his former side West Ham as Arsenal claimed a 6-0 win at the London Stadium to stay within two points of leaders Liverpool.
The fixture was billed as a tough assignment for Mikel Arteta’s side following two defeats to West Ham earlier in the season but the hosts completely capitulated as four goals in 15 first-half minutes sent many fans streaming towards the exits early.
William Saliba’s header from Rice’s corner set the wheels in motion, with Bukayo Saka adding a second from the penalty spot before Gabriel Magalhaes headed home another Rice set-piece and Leandro Trossard added a brilliantly-taken fourth.
Arsenal continued to tear through the abject hosts in the second half, adding two more goals in as many minutes as Saka capitalised on static defending to finish at the near post before Rice’s brilliant curler from 25 yards out completed the rout.
The extraordinary victory, Arsenal’s biggest in a Premier League away game, puts the Gunners level with second-placed Manchester City on goal difference, maintaining their title hopes following last Sunday’s win over Liverpool.
For West Ham, meanwhile, it marks a dark day, the joint-heaviest home league defeat in their history extending their winless run to seven games and piling pressure on manager David Moyes.
Watch: All the goals
West Ham: Areola (4), Coufal (3), Johnson (3), Zouma (3), Aguerd (3), Emerson (3), Ward-Prowse (4), Alvarez (3), Soucek (4), Kudus (5), Bowen (5).
Subs used: Phillips (5), Mavropanos (6), Cresswell (6).
Arsenal: Raya (7), White (8), Saliba (8), Gabriel (8), Kiwior (7), Rice (9), Odegaard (8), Havertz (8), Saka (9), Martinelli (8), Trossard (8).
Subs used: Elneny (7), Nelson (7), Nketiah (7), Nwaneri (7), Cedric (7).
Player of the match: Bukayo Saka
How Arsenal punished woeful Hammers
The game was relatively even for the opening quarter of an hour but Arsenal soon seized the upper hand and set about inflicting merciless punishment as West Ham’s capitulation began.
The visitors had already created a string of chances before the opener, with Alphonse Areola brilliantly denying Trossard from the best of them, but Saliba’s header caused the floodgates to open.
Team news headlines
- Arsenal brought in Leandro Trossard and Jakub Kiwior but Oleksandr Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus, Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Emile Smith Rowe were unavaillable.
- West Ham named an unchaged team from their 3-0 loss to Manchester United last weekend, with Jarrod Bowen again leading the line in attack.
Rice, booed on his return to his former side, was the creator-in-chief as his corner found Saliba at the far post. The midfielder then set up Arsenal’s third from another dead-ball delivery as his diagonal free-kick was flicked in by the unmarked Gabriel.
Either side of those two goals, there was the penalty won and converted by Saka as he put his costly miss in this fixture last season behind him having latched onto an excellent pass by Trossard and drawn contact from Areola.
Saka’s penalty sent West Ham fans streaming towards the exits and their numbers grew as the bombardment continued with Trossard adding the fourth, curling home a superb finish from Martin Odegaard’s pass after more woeful defending.
Moyes sought to stem the flow at half-time by throwing on Kalvin Phillips and Konstantinos Mavropanos for Kurt Zouma and Edson Alvarez but Arsenal picked up where they left off.
Areola denied Saka with a quick reaction save as the pressure continued but he produced the fifth goal minutes later as he collected Odegaard’s pass following patient build-up play, then cut inside and fired home clinically at the near post.
At that point, it seemed implausible that West Ham’s afternoon could get any worse but it did, and it was particularly painful that Rice was the man to compound their misery.
It seemed Arsenal had missed the chance when a miscommunication between Odegaard and Trossard saw the ball run between them, but Rice was there to arc a wonderful, curling shot over Areola and into the net.
The 25-year-old declined the opportunity to celebrate out of respect, despite being subjected to boos from the home fans earlier in the game, as he sealed a first win over his former side at the third attempt.
Arteta had the luxury of bringing off Rice and Saka after that, with 16-year-old Ethan Nwaneri handed a late cameo for his second Premier League appearance. It was another positive in a statement win for Arsenal as the West Ham inquest began.
Arteta delighted to make history with big win
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, speaking to Sky Sports:
“I’m extremely happy. The way we performed, the way we played. Such a big score in a really difficult place tells you a lot about how well the boys played today.
“It’s great to make [club] history especially the way we have done it. We’re in a good moment and we you have good moments you have to build and maintain the momentum. The team from the beginning looked really sharp. We had to put right the last two results against them and that was a good motivation for the boys.”
On Bukayo Saka: “When you talk about consistency at his age…what he has done in the last two or three seasons is remarkable. His attitude, his quality, what he delivers every week, it’s really difficult to find. That’s why he is so important to us.”
On Declan Rice: “It’s always difficult to come back to your old club. The fans were really good to him. When he went to take the corner they clapped him so it’s great to see that kind of reception. He loves this club so much and I know what it meant to him to play today.
“We have to share the goals. That desire and that commitment to get into the box to make things happen, it was excellent.”
Analysis: Arsenal show title credentials
Having struggled to convert their dominance into goals for much of the season, Arsenal now cannot stop scoring. Their six-goal thrashing of West Ham made it 16 in their last four games.
Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Liverpool were swatted aside. But this, their fourth consecutive win, was their most devastating display yet; their biggest away victory in Premier League history and another statement about their credentials.
This is a serious team. Already the best in the league defensively, they have now found a level of cutting edge to match. The game at the London Stadium was just the latest reminder of their potency from set-pieces. But they were rampant from open play too.
There is no out-and-out No 9 capable of rivalling Erling Haaland’s scoring exploits, of course. But Arsenal are sharing the goals out. Against West Ham, there were five different scorers. They threatened from all angles. West Ham could not cope.
Saka’s double puts him on five goals from his last five Premier League games and he is not the only attacking player to have hit a rich vein of form at what feels like the right time. Trossard has three in his last four. Martinelli too.
The fluidity of their front line was too much for West Ham, with Odegaard orchestrating proceedings and Kai Havertz constantly finding space to exploit. The fact they still have Gabriel Jesus to return from injury is another source of encouragement.
Keane: West Ham were a disgrace
Sky Sports’ Roy Keane, speaking at half-time:
“There are ways to lose a football match – West Ham have not turned up, they have not been physical, they are not tackling, no desire, no hunger, they look old and sluggish, they are not tracking back, no one has laid a glove on Odegaard.
“Moyes must be fuming at half-time, but all credit to Arsenal, they look sharp and at it and have turned up. West Ham, though, a disgrace.”
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“Defending wise, if that happened in under-10s football you’d be going, ‘seriously?!’
“Not getting tight, showing them inside on to their proper foot, it is poor. I just think Arsenal made West Ham surrender and that is quite sad as a player as that is the one thing you do not want to do.
“There are ways of losing football matches. That is a horrible way and I feel sorry for David Moyes as that is not a Moyes team out there, they have let him down today.
“They work hard and the one thing you do not get done at West Ham is by set-plays, and they were poor with them today.”
Moyes: I understand fans leaving early
West Ham boss David Moyes, speaking to Sky Sports:
“Yes, it certainly is [up there as one of the most disappointing days as manager of West Ham]. It’s one of those days which you don’t want to happen very often, and it happened today.
“It’s not been like my teams in the past. I’ll take a bit of time and look at it and see if I can fix it. I take the responsibility, I pick the team but the players have to take responsibility too.
“It’s really important we do those jobs really well. We will always try to be as well organised as we can be. Arsenal were very good – we mustn’t take that away. We weren’t good.
“I’m a football supporter. I understand that [fans leaving early]. I don’t think the direction the club is heading in is the wrong direction. It’s grown greatly since we came in. We were fighting relegation. We’re not fighting relegation today.
“We were playing one of the top teams in the country who we took three points off earlier in the season so I have to say the club is in a really good place. We’ve had setbacks through the season and we’ll try and come back from this one the best we can.”
Moyes’ six-goal misery – Opta stats
- West Ham suffered their joint-heaviest home defeat in their league history. The only other time they’ve lost by six goals in the top-flight came back in December 1963 against Blackburn Rovers (8-2).
- Arsenal registered their joint-biggest margin of victory in an away league match, and their first such win by six goals since December 1935 against Aston Villa (7-1).
- For only the second time in the Premier League, a side managed by David Moyes conceded six or more goals in a home game – both instances came in matches against Arsenal (also Everton 1-6 Arsenal in August 2009).
- Gabriel Magalhaes has scored 14 goals for Arsenal in the Premier League, the most of any defender in the competition since the start of 2020/21.
- Arsenal’s Declan Rice assisted two goals in a Premier League game for the first time in his career. With his second half strike, it was also the first time he’s been directly involved in three or more goals in a Premier League match.
West Ham and Arsenal are back in Premier League action next Saturday, with both games kicking off at 3pm.
West Ham travel to Nottingham Forest on February 17, while Arsenal travel to Burnley.
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