Arsenal exacted sweet revenge on West Ham United with a 6-0 away thrashing to stay right in the thick of the Premier League title race on Sunday, obliterating their hosts before half-time.
Mikel Arteta’s side had lost twice against their London rivals this season but were 4-0 ahead by half-time with goals by William Saliba, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel and Leandro Trossard.
The punishment continued in the second half with Saka making it 5-0 before former West Ham midfielder Declan Rice, who assisted two goals in the opening period, thumped his team’s sixth on a day of abject humiliation for the hosts.
It was a sublime display by Arsenal who equalled their highest away league win and wiped off a goal difference deficit to champions Manchester City who they joined on 52 points, although they stay in third place courtesy of scoring fewer goals. Leaders Liverpool have 54 points.
Arsenal were defeated by West Ham in the League Cup although the bigger blow was a 2-0 home defeat in December when they were guilty of squandering a host of chances.
This time they were lethal as they tore eighth placed West Ham to shreds at the London Stadium. Thousands of home fans who streamed out of the exits before half-time were spared the rest of West Ham’s worst home league defeat since an 8-2 loss by Blackburn Rovers in 1963.
“It was a brilliant performance from the start to the end, we dominated and controlled everything and today we were really sharp in front of goal as well,” Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard said. “We backed up a big win last week (against Liverpool) with another great performance.”
Victories for Liverpool and Manchester City on Saturday had cranked up the pressure on Arsenal to follow suit.
And how they responded.
Arteta’s side dominated the opening exchanges with Trossard’s ferocious volley tipped over by home keeper Alphonse Areola and Martin Odegaard’s shot deflecting just wide.
The away fans might had a sense of deja-vu from the clash at The Emirates on Dec. 28 when Arsenal were stunned by West Ham despite their superiority. But they need not have worried.
Once Saliba was allowed a simple header at the far post from a Rice corner in the 32nd minute, West Ham disintegrated.
Saka was then played clean through and was taken out by Areola who was shown a yellow card before the young England forward dispatched the penalty for his 50th goal for the club.
Rice swung in a free kick that was met by Gabriel with another close-range header and with West Ham resembling rabbits frozen in the headlights, Trossard engineered some space before curling a sublime right-footed shot into the top corner.
West Ham were booed off by their fans at half-time and the exodus continued after the break as Saka fired a clinical shot past Areola to make it 5-0 before Rice, who got a mixed reception from the home fans, produced a stunning finish.
Rice refused to celebrate but the party was in full swing amongst the away fans who left the ground dreaming of going one step further than last season’s runner-up finish.
It was a traumatic afternoon for West Ham manager David Moyes who saw one of his teams concede six goals in a home league game for the second time in his career — the other occasion in 2009 when his Everton lost 6-1, also to Arsenal.