That autumn unbeaten run has long been forgotten at Arsenal. Only Burnley, Fulham and Blackpool in the last eight games in a curse to the team of Unai Emery, which saw the gap between them and Liverpool as cruel exposed.
And on a gray January afternoon at the London stadium, when winter began to bite mid-winter, West Ham put them back in place.
The Manuel Pellegrini team of course has its own ups and downs, but on an afternoon when Declan Rice, self-riveted, dominated the midfield and scored his first goal for the club, this was definitely one of their better performances.
Declan Rice remained composed when the ball was cut by Samir Nasri and threw it 1-0 into the goal of Arsenal
Rice unleashed the passion after breaking the deadlock just after the second half was restarted
The youngster sat down on his knees and roared in honor of the home supporters after he had put West Ham on the wrong foot
Rice was plagued by Captain Mark Noble and his West Ham teammates when the scenes became lively in London's stadium
Rice was blasted through the stadium on the big screen after he had hit the back of the net in front of his side
Arsenal defenders continued to ask questions about each other after having fallen behind in the draw in North London
There was no heroic homecoming for the troubled Marko Arnautovic, who had one of those dense afternoons, where he only occasionally offered a glimpse of his class.
But there would be a crucial role for Samir Nasri, formerly of Arsenal and returned from drug bans with 18 moths. Strangely enough, footballers seem immune to the usual manipulation reserved for drug cheats, so Nasri's return to the Premier League after a FA Cup start last weekend drew little comment. And based on this display he will have a lot to offer West Ham.
For Arsenal, the lack of strategy was limited to the field. Mesut Ozil discovered late that £ 350,000 per week does not even get you on the couch at Arsenal. Three full backups and Eddie Nketiah were better suited as backup options for this clash than the highest paid player in Arsenal's history.
But although this was not the first time that Unai Emery rejected him from the squadron – and both Ozil and Arsenal confirmed that he had been training all week and was available. – it felt like an even more poignant omission, coming into the transfer window of January. However, those who are willing to accept their wages remain a debatable point.
CONTEST FACTS, LIVE LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
WEST HAM: Fabianski 6, Zabaleta 6.5Diop 7Ogbonna 6, Cresswell 7Noble 7, Rice 8Antonio 7 (Obiang 82), Nasri 7 (Snodgrass 71), Felipe Anderson 7, Arnautovic 6 (Carroll 5.5 71)
SUBS UNUSED: Adrian, Masuaku, Lucas Perez, Diangana
TARGET: Rice 47
ARSENAL: Leno, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi (Ramsey 59), Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka (Torreira 59), Kolasinac, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette
SUBS UNUSED: Cech, Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Monreal, Nketiah
booked: Kolasinac, Mustafi
REFEREE: Jonathan Moss (County Durham)
Player ratings from Adam Crafton
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- League 1
- Series a
- La Liga
Declan Rice scored for the Hammers by hitting the ball in the roof of the goal. CLICK HERE to see more Sportsmail & # 39; s MATCH ZONE.
Equally worrying was that the coherence that Arsenal showed under Emery in the autumn has waned. The high pressure and intensity is lacking. They look like Arsene Wenger's side in the last days: neat enough, nice in patches but without a real identity.
The intention of West Ham seemed a bit more poignant from the beginning, although Marko Arnautovic did the thing he did nothing and then produced one touch to convince you that he is irreplaceable.
It came in the 33rd minute, in which he invaded life and returned to the back of the Arsenal. The ball seemed too far outside him to be checked, but with a stretch and an excellent touch he brought it down and put on Nasri, who kept the ball up beautifully for Felipe Anderson to shoot from the edge of the box. The Brazilian beat it well enough, but wide.
Younger Matteo Guendouzi tried his luck at a distance in the first half, as Arsenal had to settle for 0-0 with the interval
Alexandre Lacazette passed goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the opening phase but there was no call for a penalty
The Frenchman made a lively start of the armature and tried to get behind the Hammers line every time
Sead Kolasinac collapsed every challenge during the game and later picked up a yellow card
Marko Arnautovic was in the starting line-up of West Ham, despite the fact that he was linked to a major money transaction to China this month
Manager Manuel Pellegrini was in constant dialogue with the Austrian attacker when he looked forward to transmitting his tactics
That was almost as exciting as in the opening half. Rice came close with a header from Anderson's corner on the stroke of halftime.
Arsenal's best chances came from a half volley from Alex Lacazette on nine minutes, which swung wide open and when Sead Kolasinac entered the box with commendable intention at 23 minutes, but failed to shoot or cut decently.
Matteo Guendouzi popped up with a strong bang in 35 minutes, but he curled just wide.
But West Ham showed at least desire. And the slack of Arsenal would cost them in the first exchanges of the second half.
They would not manage to clear a Felipe Anderson bend in 47 minutes, allowing the Brazilian to drive back to the goal line and pull the ball back. Arsenal & # 39; s defense has recently fallen back to crippled and here was another example, Shokdran Mustafi muffled a soft header to Nasri.
Andy Carroll had to settle for a place on the replacement bench in favor of Arnautovic who was in charge
Samir Nasri made a return to the team with whom he made his name in the Premier League and later provided an assist
Nasri got a lot of ball in the early stages of the game and was strongly marked by the midfield of Arsenal
Rice fought for possession when the game started physically between the two parties at the London Stadium
Manager-counterparts Pellegrini and Unai Emery gave each other a warm welcome on the sidelines
It is inevitable that he returned to his former club and his Premier League after his drug ban and delivered a moment of class, touching Rice, who in turn succeeded nicely and strode past Bernd Leno, his first goal for West Ham.
Emery quickly made a change by persuading Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira and returning to a back four. They immediately looked better, covering the space in the midfield and releasing their runners, in particular Alex Iwobi, more often.
Kolasinac played in Aubameyang at 65 minutes and the Frenchman just missed. Iwobi broke 66 minutes and did the same. But it was the best that Arsenal had looked at. And it would not be much better. They pushed forward without really threatening West Ham in the last minutes.
In the whole club it seems to be a long and slow reconstruction process.