My Gunners kicked ass and took names in a 5-1 thrashing of West Ham. Alexis Sanchez led the way with the Hat trick.
The Telegraph: Does lots of open space, little atmosphere and fans heading for the exits early sound familiar? It certainly felt like home to the travelling Arsenal supporters who chanted ‘Is this the Emirates?’ and the club’s players felt equally comfortable in their surroundings.
A trip to West Ham always looked like a potential banana skin for Arsene Wenger’s team, with Upton Park’s tight pitch and intimidating atmosphere, but the Hammers have lost that particular advantage thanks to their move.
Never before, in 110 years, had Arsenal scored five away at West Ham and the London Stadium hosted its first hat-trick, as Alexis Sanchez left with the matchball.
Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were also on target, as Arsenal lifted themselves into second place in the Premier League table and emphatically added to the sense that West Ham’s opponents enjoy playing at their shiny stadium much more than they do.
Wenger acknowledged this point by saying: “West Ham have two handicaps, they play in a new ground. It is not completely comfortable, especially when they lack confidence.”
Sanchez is now level with Brazilian-born Diego Costa in the Premier League scoring charts, one ahead of Argentine Sergio Aguero, and Wenger added: “He has all the ingredients to be a top class striker and he shows that. He is quick, can dribble and he has a killer instinct. It shows the South Americans are the leading strikers in world football. You have to acknowledge that.”
There were some mitigating factors for Slaven Bilic, who has been hit hard by injuries, but the West Ham manager had a warning for his players and acknowledged they are in a relegation fight.
“Somewhere, we lost the intensity in training,” said Bilic. “We don’t show it in every training session. That’s why we can’t do it over 90 minutes in a game. We have to bring it back. This intensity and dedication to the cause is missing.
“I’m very disappointed and feel frustrated and humiliated to be fair. I want to say sorry to the fans and the clubs and to everyone who has something to do with West Ham United.”
Already without injured duo Aaron Cresswell and Cheikhou Kouyate, Bilic lost central defender James Collins in just the seventh minute.
Alvaro Arbeloa was sent on, but West Ham were forced to change to a 4-1-4-1 formation and that completely threw Bilic’s side, who could easily have conceded eight or nine goals – let alone five.
Angelo Ogbonna had to cut out a cross from Nacho Monreal before another low centre from the Spaniard was diverted off the foot of Sanchez by Winston Reid to prevent what would have been a certain goal.
Shkodran Mustafi went close with a glancing header from Ozil’s inswinging corner before Ozil finally opened the scoring for Arsenal in the 24th minute thanks to a comedy of errors from the hosts.
Ogbonna’s attempted clearance out of defence was charged down by Francis Coquelin and Sanchez easily danced around the challenge from Reid to go through on goal. As goalkeeper Darren Randolph advanced, the Chile international squared the ball for Ozil to tap into the net.
Up to Ozil’s opening goal, West Ham had threatened the Gunners just once. Dimitri Payet cut the defence in two with a wonderful low pass that released Manuel Lanzini. But rather than shooting early, the Argentine delayed and was forced wide before Petr Cech kept out his shot.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had wasted a number of promising situations, but finally he found the right ball 10 minutes before the break to send Sanchez scampering towards goal. Everybody expected the net to bulge, but the forward tried to round Randolph and squandered the opportunity.
There was a promising sign for Bilic’s men on the just before the break, as 21-year-old forward Ashley Fletcher sent in a dangerous cross that Pedro Obiang headed over the crossbar.
But that small sign of life did not spare the West Ham players being booed off by their fans at the break and even the on-pitch compere acknowledged that the club currently have a lack of players who look capable of scoring a goal as he interviewed former striker Marlon Harewood.
The obvious concern for Wenger’s men was that they had not killed the game off and there were two warnings in quick succession. First, Lanzini got free and sent in a low cross that Laurent Koscielny had to clear and then the lively Fletcher fired just wide.
Arsenal substitute Aaron Ramsey should have put the three points beyond doubt when he was found by Monreal, but the midfielder’s shot was saved superbly by Randolph, who then recovered to keep out Ozil’s follow up.
The West Ham fans called for substitute Andy Carroll, but by the time the striker was sent on many of those supporters were already heading for the exits after Sanchez had doubled Arsenal’s lead.
As Carroll waited to go on, Sanchez drove into the penalty area before brilliantly firing an angled shot past the diving Randolph.
Bilic immediately replaced Mark Noble with Carroll, but Sanchez got his second and Arsenal’s third with a half-volley into the corner of Randolph’s net to ensure that Stratford tube station received plenty of early travellers.
Those who had left missed a flurry of late goals as Carroll pulled one back after Payet had hit the bar, but Oxlade-Chamberlain restored Arsenal’s three-goal advantage before Sanchez saved the best until last.
The 27-year-old broke free and then completely dummied Randolph by looping his boot over the ball before lifting it over the goalkeeper’s diving frame and into the net.
Replays showed Sanchez had been offside, but the quality of his finish ensured there were few complaints – certainly not from the London Stadium ball boys wrapped up in West Ham jackets who stopped Arsenal’s star man for selfies as he left the pitch at the final whistle.