Subjected to another rude awakening upon his return to one of his former clubs, West Ham boss David Moyes cut a gloomy figure as Man United put three past West Ham without reply last Sunday, where the Red Devils’ stars of tomorrow stole the spotlight.
A clinical Rasmus Hojlund finish preceded two efforts from South American starlet Alejandro Garnacho at the Theatre of Dreams, although West Ham were not without their moments in Manchester, leaving Moyes to profess that the 3-0 scoreline “flattered” his old employers.
Regardless, a sixth match on the bounce without a win for the Irons – who are yet to triumph in any tournament since the turn of the year – saw Moyes’s men drop below Man United into seventh place in the table, albeit with just a two-point gap to make up to the Red Devils.
However, Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion could both force the Hammers out of the European positions with triumphs in their Saturday affairs, but a return to home comforts gives the Europa Conference League holders reason for optimism, as they have not lost any of their last six Premier League games at the London Stadium.
Only Manchester City and Everton have left West Ham’s turf with three points in the bag so far this season, but not since their days at Upton Park in the 2015-16 campaign – when Slaven Bilic was at the helm – have the hosts strung together a seven-match unbeaten home run in the Premier League.
The third time is often the charm, and it certainly was for Mikel Arteta’s ruthless Arsenal against Liverpool last Sunday, as the Gunners erased painful memories of their FA Cup loss to the Reds and throwing away a one-goal lead to draw at Anfield just before Christmas.
The Emirates extravaganza pitted the two meanest rearguards in the division against one another, but both sides swapped their previous defensive diligence for penalty-box blunders, as Gabriel Magalhaes firstly netted a comical own goal to bring Liverpool level after Bukayo Saka’s opener.
However, Gabriel’s howler soon paled into insignificance, as a shocking mix-up between Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker presented Gabriel Martinelli with an empty net, before the latter failed to keep his legs closed at his near post, and Leandro Trossard took full advantage to rubber-stamp a glorious Gunners success.
After experiencing a run of just one win from seven games for the first time in the Emirates hotseat, Arteta’s Arsenal renaissance has seen the Gunners march to three successive top-flight victories to move to within two points of Liverpool, although Manchester City – who kick off against Everton on Saturday lunchtime – are still ahead on goal difference for the time being.
The North London titans must channel their third-time charm once again this weekend if they are to conquer their capital foes, though, as West Ham’s most recent win in any competition was their 2-0 Emirates beating just after Christmas, prior to which they also extinguished Arsenal’s chances of EFL Cup glory with a 3-1 London Stadium victory.