Declan Rice marked his return to his former club West Ham by scoring a brilliant long-range strike and setting up two first-half goals in Arsenal’s 6-0 win in the Premier League that saw Bukayo Saka gain some redemption on Sunday.
Rice was jeered relentlessly by many West Ham fans, clearly still unhappy that he chose to move to Arsenal for a reported 105 million pounds (then $138 million) in July. By the time he was substituted in the 67th, the England midfielder had helped to condemn his first club to one of its worst-ever losses.
West Ham conceded four times in 10 minutes before halftime, with Rice’s set-piece deliveries assisting headed goals by Arsenal centre-backs William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes. Home fans were seen leaving the Olympic Stadium in the hundreds before the halftime whistle.
Saka had been another of the first-half scorers, along with Leandro Trossard, and the England winger added the fifth in the 63rd minute.
Saka’s last appearance at West Ham saw him miss a penalty when Arsenal was leading 2-1, in a costly 2-2 draw that sparked the team’s end-of-season implosion and led to Manchester City retaining the league title. He received dreadful racist abuse after that spot-kick failure, too.
Rice delivered the final blow by curling in a shot from 25 yards (meters), to which he responded by holding up his hands in a signal that he wasn’t celebrating the goal. He was almost immediately substituted — and even got some applause from the West Hams still in the ground.
The resounding win for Arsenal came a day after victories for title rivals Liverpool and Man City and massively improved the goal difference of Mikel Arteta’s team. Arsenal is in third place, behind second-place City only on goals scored and two points adrift of Liverpool.
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