[GOOGLE NEWS FOOT UK] 🔵 Arsenal hammer West Ham, United ignite Champions League hopes – Shango Media
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[GOOGLE NEWS FOOT UK] 🔵 Arsenal hammer West Ham, United ignite Champions League hopes

LONDON, England (AP):

A record win for Arsenal. An absolutely critical one for Manchester United.

After Arsenal hammered West Ham 6-0 for their biggest-ever English Premier League away victory, United beat Aston Villa 2-1 in a huge result in the race for Champions League qualification.

Arsenal might be in their best form so far this season. Last weekend, Mikel Arteta’s players were handing league leaders Liverpool only their second loss to tighten up the title race and here it was running amok inside the Olympic Stadium, which rapidly emptied after West Ham fell 4-0 behind just before half-time.

Bukayo Saka scored twice and Declan Rice – a former West Ham favourite – added the sixth goal almost apologetically.

Arsenal joined Manchester City just two points behind Liverpool. All three of the big title contenders won this weekend.

United’s aspirations are simply to finish in the top four – or five – to get back into the Champions League and that would have been a long shot had the visitors lost at Villa Park.

Instead, there are only five points – rather than 11 – between United in sixth and Villa in fifth after Scott McTominay headed in an 86th-minute winner to earn United a third-straight league victory. Rasmus Hojlund opened the scoring for United and has now netted in five straight league matches.

RICE’S RETURN

Disgruntled West Ham fans streamed out of their ground in their hundreds before the half-time whistle, well before their former star player condemned them to their joint-heaviest loss of all time.

It just had to be Rice running onto the ball and curling a long-range strike into the top corner to put the seal on an almost embarrassingly easy win for Arsenal.

Rice used to be West Ham’s best player, with his relentless energy, lung-busting runs and covering tackles. Now here he was, playing a big part in a clinic by Arsenal, with the home supporters’ booing of his every touch maybe spurring him on.

« I’m really happy with him, » Arteta said of Rice. « I know that it was an emotional day for him because he loves West Ham so much. But he had to focus on the task and what he had to deliver — set-pieces were one of those. »

VILLA STRUGGLING

Villa’s once-impregnable home record underpinned their improbably strong start to the season. It wasn’t long ago that Villa were beating City and Arsenal in the space of 72 hours to set a club record of 15-straight home wins in the league and sit just two points behind first-place Liverpool.

Now Villa have lost three home games in a row – to Newcastle, Chelsea and now Man United – and is looking over their shoulder.

The hosts created enough chances to win but lacked the ruthlessness displayed by United.

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