London: Declan Rice’s first West Ham goal secured a 1-0 win over Arsenal in a capital city derby clash at the London Stadium. The victory in Saturday’s early kick-off saw the Hammers move up to eighth in the Premier League table, on 31 points, ahead of the bulk of the weekend’s fixtures.
Teenage midfielder Rice gave himself an early present for his 20th birthday on Monday by scoring the only goal of the game three minutes into the second half.
“I can’t put it into the words,” an elated Rice said.
“The lads are always on at me to take the shot on more.”
‘Special talent’West Ham captain Mark Noble was almost as pleased as Rice himself, adding: “I am delighted for this young man to score the goal...He is a special talent and keeps working hard.” Defeat dented Arsenal’s bid to break into the top four, with the Gunners still adrift of Chelsea their next opponents in the race for a Champions League place.
“It is difficult to win if you don’t score,” said Laurent Koscielny, the Arsenal defender.
“In football if you give a small chance to your opponent you pay and today we did,” he added after a defeat that meant the Gunners had won just one of their last seven away Premier League matches.
West Ham named Marko Arnautovic in their starting line-up despite the Austrian forward’s brother and agent saying Thursday he wanted to move to the Chinese Super League.
And it appeared Arnautovic was waving goodbye to the home fans in a London Stadium record of over 59,000 when substituted in the 71st minute.
Former Arsenal favourite Samir Nasri started against his old club as the midfielder made his Premier League debut for the Hammers.
Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi returned from injury for Arsenal but there was no place in Unai Emery’s squad for Mesut Ozil.
The match was goalless at the interval following near-misses by Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi and Hammers playmaker Felipe Anderson.
That all changed in the 48th minute courtesy of Rice.
Arsenal pressed for an equaliser but the Hammers survived three minutes of stoppage time as they held on for victory.
The Result: West Ham 1 (Rice 48), Arsenal 0