Alexis Sanchez scored a 14-minute hat-trick in a frantic finale as Arsenal moved second in the Premier League with a 5-1 victory over struggling West Ham at London Stadium on Saturday.
With Manchester City having lost 3-1 at home to leaders Chelsea, Sanchez ensured Arsenal took their chance to move one point ahead of Pep Guardiola’s side in a match that exploded into life in the closing stages, highlighted by a six-minute spell in which four goals were scored.
Arsenal moved ahead when Chile international Sanchez capitalised on an error from Angelo Ogbonna to tee up Mesut Ozil for his eighth strike in all competitions this term – equalling the total he managed in the entire 2015-16 season.
West Ham initially showed signs of improvement after the restart, but Sanchez put the result beyond doubt with two brilliant goals as the match reached a thrilling climax.
Andy Carroll was on target in his first appearance since August when he reacted quickest after Dimitri Payet’s free-kick hit the crossbar, but Arsene Wenger’s side responded with two more efforts.
After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain curled home from distance, Sanchez wrapped up his hat-trick and moved joint-top of the Premier League scoring charts by committing Darren Randolph to ground and sending a lovely dinked finish into the back of the net.
The result heaped pressure on Slaven Bilic, whose side suffered an early setback when they were forced into a change when James Collins appeared to sustain a muscular injury in the seventh minute.
Right-back Alvaro Arbeloa’s introduction prompted a switch from a back three to a four-man defence, and Nacho Monreal saw a pair of cutback’s cleared by last-gasp West Ham defending.
Arsenal continued their push for the opener and, after Shkodran Mustafi’s near-post flick-on agonisingly evaded the stretching Laurent Koscielny, they got it through Ozil.
The Germany international was left with the simplest of finishes after Sanchez pounced on Ogbonna’s blocked pass to leave Ozil with an empty net to slot into
Bilic’s team responded well after the break, but Petr Cech remained largely untested, unlike Randolph who produced a brilliant reaction save to deny substitute Aaron Ramsey before Ozil’s acrobatic follow-up was blocked.
Sanchez punished their lack of creativity when he turned Arthur Masuaku on the right-hand side and drilled an excellent right-footed finish past Randolph in the 72nd minute.
A powerful drive into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards saw Sanchez double his tally and put the result beyond doubt with 10 minutes remaining, though there was still time for plenty more action.
Mustafi was booked for a foul on substitute Andre Ayew and Payet’s effort from the resultant free-kick came back off the bar, Carroll pouncing to score with a stooping header.
Arsenal hit back one minute later through a wonderful curling strike from the edge of the area by Oxlade-Chamberlain and they rapidly enhanced their lead further.
Oxlade-Chamberlain turned provider, releasing Sanchez, who showed sensational composure to hold off Winston Reid and complete the scoring with a deft finish.
Arsenal will slip to third if Liverpool overcome Bournemouth on Sunday, while West Ham now sit just three points off the foot of the table following Sunderland’s win at home to Leicester City.
Key Opta Facts:
– West Ham have now lost 26 times against Arsenal in the Premier League; more than against any other opponent.
– Half of Andy Carroll’s 44 Premier League goals have been headers.
– Alexis Sanchez has had a hand in 24 goals in his last 24 Premier League appearances for Arsenal (18 goals, six assists).
– There were just 14 minutes and 29 seconds between Sanchez’s first and third goals in this game.