HAM­MERS NAIL ARSE­NAL

Rice strikes down Gun­ners as Nasri pro­vides as­sist against his for­mer club

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The re­sult takes West Ham to sev­enth spot

THAT au­tum­nal un­beaten run has long been for­got­ten at Arse­nal. Only Burnley, Ful­ham and Black­pool have fallen to Unai Emery’s team in the

last eight games in a spell that saw the gap be­tween them and the likes of Liver­pool cru­elly ex­posed.

And on a grey Jan­uary af­ter­noon at the Lon­don Sta­dium, as the mid-win­ter be­gins to bite, West Ham put them firmly back in their place.

Manuel Pel­le­grini’s team have their own ups and downs, of course, but on an af­ter­noon where home-grown Declan Rice shone, dom­i­nat­ing the mid­field and scor­ing his first goal for the club, this was def­i­nitely one of their bet­ter per­for­mances.

There was no heroic home­com­ing for un­set­tled Marko Ar­nau­tovic, who had one of those mer­cu­rial af­ter­noons, where he of­fered only oc­ca­sional glimpses of his class.

But there would be a cru­cial role for Samir Nasri, for­merly of Arse­nal 18-moth and drugs re­turn­ing bans. Bizarrely, from an

foot­ballers seem im­mune from the usual op­pro­brium re­served for drugs cheats so Nasri’s re­turn to the Premier League af­ter an FA Cup start last week­end at­tracted lit­tle com­ment. And on the basis of this dis­play, he will have much to of­fer West Ham.

For Arse­nal, the lack of strat­egy was con­fined to the pitch. Me­sut Ozil has be­lat­edly dis­cov­ered that $450,000 a week doesn’t even get you on the bench at Arse­nal these days. Three full backs and Ed­die Nke­tiah were a con­sid­ered bet­ter fit as back up op­tions for this clash than the best-paid player in Arse­nal his­tory.But though this wasn’t the first time Unai Emery has ex­cluded him from the squad – and both Ozil and Arse­nal con­firmed that he had trained all week and was avail­able.

Mat­teo Guen­duozi Arse­nal play­ers Lau­rent Ko­scienly and Pirre Em­rick Aubameyang re­act af­ter los­ing the match at the Lon­don Sta­dium. West Ham United’s Declan Rice (cen­tre) heads the ball into the net in Lon­don on Satur­day.

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