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 but West Ham completely capitulated as four goals in 15 first-half minutes sent many home 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 completed the rout.
The extraordinary victory allows Arsenal to draw level with second-placed Manchester City on goal difference, maintaining their title hopes following last Sunday’s win over Liverpool and piling pressure on David Moyes, with West Ham now seven games without a win.
Watch: All the goals
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 drew contact from Areola as he rushed out.
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 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 even 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, who had lost his previous two meetings with his former side this season, declined the opportunity to celebrate out of respect, despite the early boos of the West Ham fans.
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 as Arsenal celebrated another statement win and the West Ham inquest began.
Both 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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