Ruthless Arsenal send title message as Mikel Arteta finds a solution to his latest headache

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

In their quest to keep pace in the title race, Arsenal will surely not have many easier afternoons than this one at West Ham.

By half-time, the Gunners were 4-0 up and home fans were streaming for the exits.

You could hardly blame them either because, for as good as Arsenal were, the Hammers were equally poor.

They collapsed during the final 15 minutes of the first half as they conceded four goals, and things got worse after the break.

In the end, Arsenal finished with six goals - but it could easily have been so many more. West Ham had one shot on target all game.

Arsenal were ruthless and they now have four wins on the spin.

The Gunners are just two points off leaders Liverpool and this victory will have been all the sweeter for Mikel Arteta given what happened at the London Stadium last season.

It was here in April where Arsenal blew a two-goal lead to draw and their title charge never recovered.

There was no chance of that this time.

Saka banishes pain of last season

The London Stadium held painful memories for Bukayo Saka.

Last season the winger missed a penalty, which proved cosly in the title race.

Saka has never been one to let past errors hold him back and, when Arsenal won a penalty here in the first half, there was no doubt who was taking it.

He grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot before sending Alphonse Areola the wrong way to put Arsenal 2-0 up.

It was a big moment for Saka, not least because before that he had squandered two good chances.

After making no mistake from the spot, he helped himself to another in the second half.

Set-piece FC strike again

There has been lots of debate about whether Arsenal are a better side this season.

But one fact that cannot be disputed is there improvement on set-pieces.

It is only February and the Gunners have already beaten their tally from last season.

They did with that two goals here as set-piece coach Nico Jover continues to underline his importance.

Of the 16 that Arsenal have scored from set-pieces this season, though, they cannot have had many easier than these.

On multiple occasions they tried to undo West Ham with a corner to the back-post, but the Hammers did not wise up to it and William Saliba eventually headed home Declan Rice’s ball.

Rice, who had been booed in the opening minutes, had an enjoyable homecoming after suffering defeat during his first return to the London Stadium back in November.

The midfielder helped himself to another assist, swinging in a free-kick from the left that was powered home by Gabriel, and he then scored a stunning strike in the second half

White helps Arteta solve Zinchenko absence

With Oleksandr Zinchenko out due to a calf injury and Takehiro Tomiyasu not in the squad after returning from the Asian Cup, Arteta was left with a headache at left-back.

Arsenal have struggled whenever Zinchenko is out of the side as few players can recreate what he offers on the ball.

Arteta opted to bring in Jakub Kiwior but the Poland international was not charged with playing ‘the Zinchenko role’.

Instead, he played as a traditional left-back and Ben White was asked to tuck in on the other flank.

White did well in the role, showcasing his ability on the ball and demonstrating why he has previously played in midfield during his career.

It was the first time he had executed such a task for Arsenal, though, and his success in the role is a major boost for Arteta.

Suddenly, there is another solution to coping without Zinchenko.