Arsenal’s treble of 10s tore apart West Ham as the Gunners made another statement in a 6-0 Premier League thrashing.

London — Ten, ten, ten across the board. In the post-match dressing room Mikel Arteta must have felt not just player ratings but West Ham as they tried and failed to stop the disastrous interplay that led Arsenal to their heaviest win of the season, 6-0 at the London Stadium.

Gabriel and William Saliba added to their set piece scoring numbers in a sensational first half, sending West Ham supporters rushing to Stratford in time for some much-needed retail therapy after the joint-heaviest home defeat in their history. Those who went 4-0 down would have felt right to miss a second half that ended with Declan Rice, the man who led them to European glory last year, giving his former manager David Moyes more pain.

For Arsenal, this was ecstasy. As devastating as they were on dead balls again it was from open play that this side was at its most destructive. That hasn’t always been the case for Arteta’s men this season. Occasionally, not as often as skeptics might imagine, they have found it a little clumsy to break low blocks. Give it to one of the giant tires, trust them to create something with two or more defenders, and go from there.

There was none of that on Sunday. Arsenal’s threat came from left, right and everywhere in between. Their front five were more fluid and uncompromising than they have been at any point in Arteta’s reign. For a while it looked like an improvement in managerial power that could make them champions – what if Manchester City made the run they did last season? — Had to make the attack as sparky as the defense is rigid. Mission accomplished.

Arteta has often donned the dual number 10 since the start of last season. Such an approach is natural with Gabriel Jesus, coming to the ball easily most of the time, but he also tended to move into wide pockets rather than dominate the area immediately in front of the box. In Jesus’ absence against Liverpool last week Kai Havertz looked like he would act as more of a target man and on occasion he did. What really flummoxed Jurgen Klopp’s defence, however, was when he freed up the frontline for deep-lying roles, the kind of runs that led to the Gunners’ opener.

If Liverpool were confused, Moyes’ men were mesmerized, bewildered, bewildered, bewildered. They will come up with more adjectives but their heads are still spinning. Adding Leandro Trossard in place of Jorginho, placing the Belgian as a nominal center forward alongside Havertz who was rarely in the number 9 spots, was a treat.

“It’s something very different,” Arteta told CBS Sports. “The way the game was in my mind, and the spaces they leave I thought Leo with Kai could hurt them the most in that position. The other thing is the execution. Credit to them because they did really well.”

They will drop deep, wide, close together and split, all to stretch West Ham’s back nine across the field. None of them prevented them from entering the box. It was the joy of Arsenal’s movement on Sunday, after an early period where they seemed to like themselves in central areas, they had all the joy of dominating midfield without any penalty area shortcomings. Much of the credit for that goes to Trossard, whose last-minute crash into the box might have brought a goal in the 32nd minute before William Saliba flicked Declan Rice’s corner home.

Even against the tall boys of West Ham, these set piece masters are delivering routines that their opponents cannot rely on. Certainly, it helps when Ben White sets the strongest picks on Alphonse Areola. Arsenal’s screen-setting is undoubtedly within the rules and they are operating in excellent fashion but the game will one day ask itself if Nicolas Jover’s approach is what he wants to do to move the game forward.

Passes received by Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard in Arsenal’s 6–0 win over West Ham


Trossard ducked and dived looking for an opening, no one knew who was going to pick him up. Someone really should have when he flicked a pass over Nayef Aguirre from inside his own half, in stride. Areola did well to get the glove on Arsenal’s No.7, denying him for a penalty which Saka converted, banishing memories of the miss here last season, which may have been the moment the title slipped away.

“At his age, position and consistency usually don’t go in the same line,” Arteta said. “He’s proving everybody wrong that he can do it. I doubted if he would take the penalty because of what happened. It shows you how mature he is and how determined he is to get to the next level. “

This time a two-goal lead was to be avoided. For starters, West Ham rarely, if ever, looked like they had the ability to break the Arsenal line and launch Jarrod Bowen on his counters. Either way, the pattern woven by the visitors was so complex that when West Ham got the ball back they hardly knew where they were.

After the second, the mood really took Arsenal. That tandem can become triplets at will. From the start there was fluidity about who was at the top of the XI. Without the ball, Martin Odegaard moves forward to manage the press, with Havertz moving deeper to provide physicality alongside Rice. Initially it was the captain’s duty to provide the platform of possession with Rice but before long he was breaking into the front five, his full range was on display. No one in Europe’s top five leagues can match his open-play chance creation, not even Saka, who is third in the exact ranking.

As Bob Odenkirk says, the triple is the best, and the Trossard, Havertz, Odegard chimera turned Arsenal into the most fearsome beasts. Trossard’s goal was his culmination. Twice Havertz first lost the ball and on another occasion, he was able to throw the ball to Odegaard in space. Seeing time to take a touch and look up, he went forward and picked Aguirde out of the backline. In that moment all he needed to do was flick the ball to his left and Trossard, who got inside Kurt Zouma, curled the ball in at the far post.

All this superiority was only made more remarkable when considering how many potential foundational pieces of Arsenal’s build-up had been taken out. Jorginho had been outstanding seven days earlier but his foot problem flared up once again. Oleksandr Zinchenko would have loved to run the game from deep, but he was unavailable, as was Gabriel Jesus, whose knee problem has exceeded “days”, as Arteta initially put it. No Zinchenko meant more than a shift to the left. White reverses the right, forcing the likes of Saliba and Gabriel to move beyond their natural roles. After a while, you wouldn’t have known it but this was a reminder that Arsenal have more gears to grind.

Not that West Ham ever got to them. How devilishly the hosts responded to a two-goal deficit should not overshadow the Gunners’ superiority.

“It was disappointing the way we fell apart,” said Moyes, wondering how to ruthlessly assess his players.

He could have been stronger. By the second half, the basic non-negotiables for any professional were nowhere to be seen. Odegaard may have teed up Saka for his second, Arsenal’s fifth, with a precise through ball, but it took more than the Norwegian moving the ball from his left foot to his right to get James Ward-Prowse out of the game.

With Arsenal out of sight, it was time for another gut punch for the home fans who hadn’t made the early trip home, with Rice delivering perhaps his best goal on the pitch with a 30-yard curling effort. He seemed as sad as anyone in the crowd that his homecoming should end this way. His new supporters, however, will not soon forget the brilliance that resulted with Rice’s stunner.

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