By Josh James at London Stadium
Alexis Sanchez scored a memorable hat-trick as the Gunners brushed aside West Ham with a late flurry of goals at the London Stadium. Alexis had earlier got the ball rolling when he teed up Mesut Ozil for a close range tap-in during the first half, but it was after the interval that Alexis truly took centre stage. First he drilled home from a narrow angle after beating two defenders, then he found the net from the edge of the area to make it 3-0 with 10 minutes remaining. Andy Carroll pulled one back when he headed in after Dimitri Payet's free-kick hit the bar, but it was only a momentary setback for the Gunners. Almost immediately Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bent home a fine effort from 20 yards to restore the three-goal lead, but Alexis had the final say.
He lifted the ball over Darren Randolph when through on goal to claim the matchball, and send Arsenal up to second in fine style.
Setting the Scene
The midweek defeat to Southampton not only ended Arsenal's EFL Cup hopes for another season, but brought an end to the 19-game unbeaten streak that had been registered since the opening game of the season. Only two players remained from Wednesday's starting XI though, as focus switched back to the Premier League.
Gabriel retained his place in defence, but shifted across to right-back with Mathieu Debuchy, Hector Bellerin and Carl Jenkinson all injured. Francis Coquelin stayed in midfield, where he was reunited alongside Granit Xhaka for Arsenal's first ever visit to West Ham's new home. The hosts suffered a League Cup defeat of their own on Wednesday night, but their big concern remains their league form. They came into the game just one point above the relegation zone. With just two wins from their first six league matches at the London Stadium, they were still finding their feet in their new surroundings, but were boosted by the inclusion of Andy Carroll on the bench. He netted an eight-minute hat-trick on Arsenal's last-ever trip to Upton Park back in April.
Arsenal looked to take control of possession from the first whistle on, with Nacho Monreal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain especially finding joy on the left wing. West Ham were forced into an early change with Alvaro Arbeola replacing the injured James Collins in defence, and Monreal immediately exploited the disruption to the back three. After a quarter of an hour he got to the byline and cut the ball back across goal, where a desperate touch from Winston Reid took the cross away from the lurking Alexis. Manuel Lanzini had the first chance for the hosts, but his shot was comfortably dealt with at the near post by Petr Cech, after he'd been released by Dimitri Payet. The deadlock was broken midway through the half when, as he did last weekend against Bournemouth, Alexis capitalized on a defensive mistake. This time he unselfishly squared for Ozil after latching onto a loose ball, and the German had a simple tap-in in front of goal. Arsenal continued to look dangerous, emboldened by taking the lead. Oxlade-Chamberlain blazed a shot high and wide when he broke into the box as the Gunners found plenty of space on the wings. The Gunners fished the half on the back foot, as West Ham won a couple of late corners, but the defence stood firm under the aerial onslaught.
Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain switched flanks for the second half and the first two chances after the interval fell to Walcott. He headed over from Ozil's inswinging free-kick then miscued a shot on his left foot when set free by Alexis.
At the other end Ashley Fletcher flashed a shot just wide from the edge of the area as West Ham began to creep back into the game. Darren Randolph then denied Aaron Ramsey and Ozil in quick succession when Monreal once again cut the ball back dangerously from the left byline. Randolph had no chance with the second though.
Alexis superbly spun past Arthur Masuaku outside the area, shrugged off Angelo Ogbonna and then fizzed a low shot into the far corner just when it appeared that the angle was against him. Then there came a flurry of late goals as the Gunners put the game well and truly to bed. First Alexis increased Arsenal's advantage with an arrowed effort from the edge of the area. But West Ham seemed as if they may have a lifeline as Carroll headed home when Payet's free-kick rebounded off the cross bar. The fightback was short-lived though, as the lively Oxlade-Chamberlain curled a long-range effort of his own past Randolph. The scoring wasn't finished yet.
Alexis completed a memorable hat-trick, finishing coolly past Randolph after throwing an outrageous dummy when one-on-one with the keeper. It was a fitting end to a fantastic individual performance from the Chilean.
Referee: Craig Pawson
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