It was a banner victory for West Ham United Saturday afternoon, as they defeated Arsenal 1-0 at the London Stadium behind a first career goal for teenage prodigy Declan Rice.
Mired by the rumors of Marko Arnautovic on the verge of a shock move to the Chinese Super League, Manuel Pellegrini’s side put together one of their best performances of the season in completely deserving a win over Unai Emery’s lethargic team.
The tone was set in the first half with the Hammers having more possession and most of the real threats on goal, although the solid Lukasz Fabianski had to save from an Alexander Lacazette threatening run in the 14th minute. Felipe Anderson, new addition Samir Nasri and Arnautovic combined lovely at times to give Arsenal’s shaky defense fits throughout the first 45.
And that positive play carried over to the second half, as the match’s key moment came just three minutes after the restart. A corner from Felipe Anderson was poorly dealt with from Arsenal, and Nasri set up Rice who finished superbly for a banner moment in his meteoric rise to prominence. The 19-year-old’s goal was all the Hammers needed, as resolute defending only saw Arsenal come close once to getting the equalizer when Alex Iwobi just missed off a great setup from the soon departed Aaron Ramsey.
It was another terrific, happy step for West Ham in the first season under Pellegrini, garnering another result that will have supporters believe that the club could reach a turning point.
The win for the Hammers sees them tied for 7th with Leicester on 31 points. And they will hope to make it 34 points next Saturday, when they take a trip to plucky Bournemouth.