West Ham crushed by rampant Arsenal
PUBLISHED: 19:46 03 December 2016 | UPDATED: 19:46 03 December 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers were no match for the Gunners despite Andy Carroll’s goal as Sanchez grabbed a hat-trick
West Ham United 1 Arsenal 5
The humiliated Hammers were shot down by the goal-hungry Gunners as they slumped to their biggest-ever defeat at the London Stadium, where Alexis Sanchez’s hat-trick left Slaven Bilić’s side in tatters.
Angelo Ogbonna’s calamitous 24th-minute clanger led to Mesut Özil giving Arséne Wenger’s title-chasers an interval lead with his eighth goal of the season before Sanchez struck twice in the final 20 minutes to put Arsenal well on the way to victory.
And although substitute Andy Carroll quickly pulled one back for wobbling West Ham in a goal-laden finale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then got on the scoresheet before Sanchez claimed the match-ball on 86 minutes.
Both sides had crashed out of the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday evening but as they returned to Premier League action, their agendas could not have been any more different.
Perilously kicking-off in 17th-spot, 13 places and 16 points adrift of the Gunners, the injury-hit Hammers made five changes from the side that had capitulated against Manchester United on a nightmarish night of Old Trafford torment as they looked to end a win-less league run of four games.
Although Slaven Bilić was able to recall fit-again Carroll to the bench, Aaron Cresswell (groin), Michail Antonio (groin) and the injured Cheikhou Kouyaté were all ruled out and replaced by Arthur Masuaku, James Collins and Mark Noble, while Darren Randolph and Manuel Lanzini came in for Adrián and Sofiane Feghouli.
And shortly after seeing the 56,980 spectators packed London Stadium observe 60 seconds silence in memory of the Chapecoense plane crash victims, Bilić’s injury list grew yet longer as Collins hobbled away with just seven minutes on the clock, as Alvaro Arbeloa made a rare public appearance.
The World Cup-winning Spaniard soon found himself teased and tormented by compatriot Nacho Monreal, whose low cross into the six-yard box was hooked clear by Ogbonna, before Oxlade-Chamberlain also cut in from that left flank but this time the England wide-boy’s unplayable, low ball evaded everyone inside the danger-zone.
Ominously lying just six points off of top spot, Arsenal arrived at the London Stadium, both unbeaten in their previous dozen Premier League games and without defeat on their travels since February.
After seeing Southampton send his youthful side marching out of the EFL Cup, Wenger had predictably made wholesale changes with only Gabriel and Francis Coquelin retaining their places.
Certainly, in the opening quarter-hour, the Hammers could have done with a ball of their own but, on 18 minutes, Dimitri Payet’s defence-splitting pass sent Lanzini clear and, although Monreal ushered him wide, the Argentinian ace still managed to unleash an angled eight-yarder that Čech gratefully guided into the side-netting at the expense of a corner.
That proved to be a false dawn for Bilić’s boys, who contrived to gift Arsenal an unfeasibly early Christmas present on 24 minutes, when the careless Ogbonna inexplicably hit his attempted pass straight at Coquelin, who steered it forward to an escaping Alexis Sanchez.
Comfortably skipping around the back-tracking Winston Reid, the Chilean creator then easily drew Randolph before inviting the supporting Özil to tap into an unguarded net and break the deadlock.
Buoyed by that opener, Oxlade-Chamberlain then sent a shot fizzing across the far angle and, after Coquelin was booked for kicking the ball away, Sanchez burst clear only to run out of road as the exposed Randolph successfully unsettled the Gunners goal-getter.
Indeed, a miserable first-half for the Hammers was underlined by Payet’s uncharacteristic, ballooned effort that fell from the chilly East End skies into the Arsenal fans behind Čech’s goal, while Pedro Obiang sent a diving header over the top, too.
Early in the second half, Theo Walcott sent a near-post header inches over before then scuffing wide, while at the other end the Hammers also threatened.
First Lanzini’s low cross into the six-yard box was scuffed clear to deny the in-rushing Ashley Fletcher, who then let fly with a blistering 20-yarder that scorched just inches beyond Čech’s right-hand post before finding himself cautioned on the hour for a follow-through on Laurent Koscielny.
Fletcher also headed tamely to the Arsenal keeper, before Andre Ayew replaced Edimilson Fernandes and after Ogbonna brilliantly blocked the breaking Walcott, the Arsenal danger man retired in place of Aaron Ramsey.
Unfolding into an end-to-end encounter there were bookings for Reid, who upended Sanchez, while Koscielny also saw yellow for felling Fletcher.
Monreal’s cut-back saw substitute Ramsey’s effort cannon off Randolph before Özil’s follow-up was also blocked but it would not be too long until those West Ham defences were breached for a second time.
On 72 minutes, Ramsey slotted a defence-slotting pass down the right channel to Sanchez and, after turning the dizzy Masuaku, the former Barcelona striker fired an angled 10-yard effort across the face of both Ogbonna and Randolph to leave the ball nestling in the far corner.
Before that clinical blow, the claret and blue fans had been chanting for Carroll and they got their wish as Mark Noble made way but having scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season it was a big ask for the man to turn the tide inside the remaining 18 minutes.
Indeed, all eyes were on Sanchez to claim the match-ball, when he picked up the pieces to lash a low 18-yarder past outstretched right glove of the poorly positioned Randolph after Özil had been robbed by Reid on 81 minutes.
And although Carroll did indeed find the net just seconds later, when he headed home the rebound after the consequently-cautioned Shkodran Mustafi felled Ayew for a 25-yard free-kick that Payet chipped onto the bar, that was mere consolation for the Hammers.
On 84 minutes, Oxlade-Chamberlain capped a fine performance with an 18-yarder that bent around both Reid and Randolph to accelerate the evacuation of London Stadium and, with the Hammers now in shreds, Sanchez did, indeed claim the match-ball when he burst clear of Reid and cheekily clipped Randolph to round off the rout.
HAMMERS: Randolph, Collins (Arbeloa 7), Reid, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Fernandes (Ayew 63), Noble (Carroll 82), Obiang, Payet, Lanzini, Fletcher. Unused subs: Adrián, Nordtveit, Feghouli, Zaza.
GUNNERS: Čech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Mustafi, Coquelin (Elneny 87), Xhaka, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Sanchez, Özil (Iwobi 87). Unused subs: Ospina, Gibbs, Ramsey, Pérez, Holding.
Bookings: Coquelin (31), Fletcher (59), Reid (65), Koscielny (67), Mustafi (82), Arbeloa (90+3).
Referee: Craig Pawson
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