Soccer

Declan Rice adds to West Ham woes as Arsenal run riot

Bukayo Saka scored twice before Rice capped a 6-0 win over his former club.

Declan Rice, left, rounded off Arsenal’s rout of his former club West Ham
Declan Rice, left, opts not to celebrate after scoring against West Ham Declan Rice, left, rounded off Arsenal’s rout of his former club West Ham (Adam Davy/PA)

Bukayo Saka scored twice and Declan Rice found the net against his old club as Arsenal flexed their muscles in the title race with a thumping 6-0 win at West Ham.

The Gunners’ title bid hit the buffers in this fixture last season when they blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

There was no chance of a repeat after William Saliba headed them in front and West Ham promptly collapsed.

William Saliba, centre, scores the first goal
William Saliba, centre, scores Arsenal's first goal William Saliba, centre, scores the first goal (Adam Davy/PA)

Rice grabbed a pair of assists on his return to his former manor while Saka, Gabriel Magalhaes and Leandro Trossard were also on target, all before half-time.

Saka scored his second midway through the second half and Rice rubbed salt in the wounds with a long-range sixth.

When West Ham beat Arsenal and Manchester United in December, there was talk of a Champions League challenge in these parts.

They have lost to both in the past eight days, shipping nine goals in the process, and are still without a win in 2024.

Alarm bells might not be ringing for manager David Moyes just yet, but the sight of hundreds of West Ham fans leaving at half-time told a sorry tale.

The London Stadium was largely empty for the second half
Empty seats in the stand as West Ham fans leave early during defeat to Arsenal The London Stadium was largely empty for the second half (Adam Davy/PA)

The opening goal arrived after 32 minutes when Rice, getting plenty of stick from the home fans, swung in a corner.

Saliba outjumped Edson Alvarez at the far post and, with Ben White blocking goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, planted a free header into the net.

Saka hit the second from the penalty spot after he burst clear and was brought down by Areola.

After a lengthy VAR check for offside, the spot-kick was confirmed and Saka confidently sent Areola the wrong way.

Four minutes later Rice came up with assist number two, swinging in a free-kick which Gabriel, on his 150th Gunners appearance, headed home in front of a lumbering Kurt Zouma.

And in first-half stoppage time Arsenal struck again, Martin Odegaard feeding Trossard to curl home number four.

It was Arsenal’s 8,000th league goal, and they were already well on the way to 9,000 by full-time.

Bukayo Saka, left, scores Arsenal’s fifth goal
Bukayo Saka, left, scores Arsenal’s fifth goal Bukayo Saka, left, scores Arsenal’s fifth goal (Adam Davy/PA)

Number 8,001 arrived in the 62nd minute when Saka cut inside Nayef Aguerd and lashed his shot past Areola.

Then came Rice’s big moment, the former Hammers skipper curling in from 25 yards after Trossard and Odegaard left the ball to each other, before performing the obligatory non-celebration in front of Arsenal’s elated fans.

Rice got a standing ovation from the home crowd when he left the field moments later, probably because those supporters had little else to clap on a painful day for the east Londoners and a bumper afternoon for Arsenal.