Arsenal came out and trounced West Ham after a poor midweek performance against Southampton in the EFL Cup. The club desperately needed to bounce back after a 2-0 loss, and they more than made up for that poor result, beating West Ham 5-1 at the London Stadium.
The match was looking discouraging before it even started, as Alexis Sanchez was forced to leave the warm-up early due to injury, but, like the iron man he is, he started the match and tore apart the hosts’ defense for the full 90 minutes.
It was a great performance all around for the visitors, and Arsene Wenger’s team should go into a relatively meaningless Champions League match on Tuesday away to Basel with momentum and excitement within the squad.
Plenty of men wearing the Arsenal badge performed at their peak on Saturday night, but here are the three players that stood out the most while the Gunners thrashed the Hammers.
Third Star: Laurent Koscielny
Other than a rather harsh booking after West Ham forward Ashley Fletcher ran into his head, the French defender and captain was rock solid at the back. Nothing got past him and his partner Shkodran Mustafi, and Arsenal still has yet to lose when the two play together.
West Ham ran a 3-4-3, indicating that they would throw many men forward in attack, but Koscielny was the main reason behind why the hosts only scored one lucky goal. His pace, experience, timeliness, and leadership proved vital to shutting down two dynamic players in Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, and more of the same will be needed from the 30-year-old next Saturday when Stoke comes to the Emirates.
Second Star: Mesut Özil
One of many attackers who stood out, Özil was critical in possession for Arsenal, and he scored one and set up the second and third of Alexis Sanchez’s three goals. It’s always nice to see the team’s primary playmaker both get on the scoresheet and do what he does best: assist.
The bond between Arsenal’s two best players seems to have hit its peak. Özil and Sanchez were on the same page all day long, and it paid dividends, as seen by the scoreline. They were so good that even the Twitter account for the English Championship League was making jokes.
First Star: Alexis Sanchez
Who else would it be? With one of the best hat-tricks seen in many, many years for the Gunners, the Chilean has to be deemed man of the match for this one. He did what he does best: gave the supporters a heart attack by leaving the warm up early, started the match, and proceeded to be the best player on the pitch by some margin.
All three of his goals were certainly something to behold. Whether it was taking a beautiful touch off a Shkodran Mustafi pass and sending his defender for tea or drilling a low shot past the West Ham ‘keeper from long range, Sanchez proved how dangerous he is when he is in form. He’s been dealing with a hamstring problem for a little while, but he showed no signs of pain in east London as he lead his team to three points and second place for the time being.
Other than these three men, Shkodran Mustafi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Theo Walcott all had some flashes of brilliance throughout the match, particularly the Ox’s bullet of a shot that found the bottom corner near the end of the match. With some big games coming up, such as Everton and Manchester City away, this match was a must-win in order for the team to stay close in the chase for first place, and the team went out and did what was required to win and more.