With the North London side heading into the game in high spirits after beating both Chelsea and Manchester United, Rob Holding’s header off a corner put the side 1-0 up 5 minutes from stoppage time in the first half. But the Gunners’ lead lasted only 5 minutes as Jarrod Bowen’s deflected strike pegged them back to level terms in stoppage time at half-time.
The goalmouth action continued in the second half as once again a centre-half came to Arsenal’s rescue when Gabriel found himself unmarked at the back post to nod an effort past Fabianski to put the away side in front once again.
It was a thoroughly dominating performance from the Gunners who had 7 shots on target with just 44% possession in response to West Ham’s 3 and the two headers proved enough for Mikel Arteta’s side to walk out 2-1 winners.
For the Hammers, it was a truly frustrating outing and the annoyance was clearly felt by the players towards the close of the game.
This was a strange confrontation as the duo were more than familiar with each other during their youth careers at Chelsea’s academy. But on Sunday, there seemed to be no love lost between the players who were arguing animatedly on the pitch.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to this confrontation:
Both Rice and Nketiah began their footballing careers at Chelsea’s youth team in 2006 but were not deemed good enough to go further at the London club due to which they departed the Blues. Perhaps the then scouts at Stamford Bridge might be looking back with second thoughts given how well Rice and Nketiah are now doing at their respective clubs in England.
During an interview while on England duty along with Ben Chilwell, Rice opened up about his time with Nketiah at Chelsea and how the Arsenal man would get a big bowl of Jollof (a popular African dish) for the whole squad including Rice while travelling on the coach for away games. But following Sunday’s clash between the players, Rice has been termed ungrateful by many fans for ‘biting the hand that fed’ him.
The Wire reference
While looking at the footage of the confrontation, it looks like fans have found a similarity between Nketiah and Marlo Stanfield, a fictional character from the TV show The Wire. Marlo (played by Jamie Hector) is an ambitious and ruthless gangster on the show, one nobody would want to cross paths with. The manner in which Nketiah stood his ground against Rice impressed many fans who are convinced that the forward channelled his inner Marlo on Sunday.
Odd time to pick a fight
It might be true that the frustrations got the better of Rice and that prompted him to go after Nketiah. However, the Hammers captain chose the wrong time to clash with the Arsenal man as West Ham had just got freekick to potential equalise them and he was not helping by wasting time unnecessarily.