Arsenal crash out with a whimper as Declan Rice endures painful return to West Ham

When Declan Rice left West Ham in the summer, he would not have imagined his homecoming would be like this.

Rice has produced plenty of heroics since joining Arsenal, but even he could not stop them crashing out of the Carabao Cup.

Brought on with just over 30 minutes to go, Rice was charged with trying to help Arsenal fight back from 2-0 down. In the end, this fourth round tie finished 3-1 on what was a disappointing night for Rice and the Gunners.

Rice was given a mixture of boos and applause by West Ham fans when he came on, while they also later sang: “You should have signed for a big club”.

But by the full-time whistle the home fans weren’t concerned with Rice. Instead, they were celebrating being in the quarter-finals of a competition that looks wide open given the number of big sides that have crashed out.

Arsenal were the latest casualty here and Mikel Arteta can have few complaints. The Gunners have bigger fish to fry this season, but Arteta will not be happy that they went out with a whimper.

The game got away from Arsenal in the second-half, but the frustration will be how they were trailing at the break. Arteta’s side had 68 per cent possession in the first-half and the Hammers did not have a single shot on goal.

They led, though, through Ben White’s own-goal and it summed up Arsenal’s night. Jarrod Bowen whipped in a corner and White headed into his own net at the near post, with Aaron Ramsdale upset that no foul was given when Tomas Soucek was pulling his shirt.

With no VAR in use the goal stood and, if this was an unhappy night for Rice, it was equally so for Ramsdale.

Aaron Ramsdale was left helpless for the three goals on his return to the side (Action Images via Reuters)
Aaron Ramsdale was left helpless for the three goals on his return to the side (Action Images via Reuters)

Handed a first start since the third round in September, the England goalkeeper shipped three goals - but there was little he could do about any of them.

The second was slack defending as Oleksandr Zinchenko allowed Mohammed Kudus to bring down a long ball and fire home. Zinchenko was hooked seven minutes later. The third was equally unfortunate for Ramsdale as Bowen’s strike from outside the box deflected off Jakub Kiwior.

By that point Arsenal looked dead and buried, but Arteta had one last roll of the dice as he threw on Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard.

Even they, though, couldn’t turn the tide and the only flicker of quality game with the final kick of the game when Odegaard finished well.