Each time Declan Rice touched the ball, the boos echoed around the stadium, signifying the disappointment of the home fans. West Ham's win over Arsenal in the Carabao Cup quarter-final was a night to remember, but not for the reasons expected.
Ironically, it was the players brought in with Declan Rice's enormous transfer fee who proved to be the architects of a humbling defeat for Arsenal, a team yet to encounter such a setback this season.
Brilliant performances by Mohammed Kudus and Edson Alvarez disrupted Arsenal's play effortlessly. Lucas Paqueta also stood out, but it was Kudus who set the tone with his goal just 50 minutes into the game.
A brilliant aerial cross from Nayef Aguerd found Kudus in the box, who skillfully controlled the ball before firing it past Arsenal's goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale. Kudus has now scored seven goals in only 15 appearances this season, proving to be an incredible acquisition for West Ham.
This victory not only marked West Ham's best performance this season but also secured them a spot in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals, while Arsenal suffered their worst defeat under Mikel Arteta's leadership.
When asked about their newfound success in cup competitions, manager David Moyes expressed his desire to also excel in the league. However, if that proves to be challenging, he emphasized the importance of performing well in cup competitions.
Arteta, on the other hand, acknowledged their disappointing display, taking full responsibility for the defeat. He admitted that Arsenal wanted to play a different game but failed to do so. Despite a few contentious moments, including Ramsdale's error that led to Jarrod Bowen's goal, Arteta refused to use them as excuses.
Despite making six changes to their lineup, Arsenal's formidable defense, consisting of Ben White, Gabriel, and Oleksandr Zinchenko, failed to contain West Ham's relentless attacks. West Ham, on a three-match losing streak, capitalized on the suspensions of Paqueta and Alvarez in the league game against Brentford to field a strong starting XI.
The opening goal came as a stroke of luck for the Hammers, with White unintentionally heading the ball into his own net. This marked the beginning of a dominant performance from West Ham, with Kudus and Bowen securing further goals.
Although Martin Odegaard scored a consolation goal for Arsenal in the dying moments of the game, it ultimately did not affect the outcome.
Arsenal's wait for the League Cup continues, as they have not lifted the trophy since 1993. Meanwhile, West Ham's sensational victory sends a warning to their rivals, demonstrating their capability to compete on multiple fronts this season.