Arsenal emphatically beat West Ham 6-0 at the London Stadium yesterday afternoon, as Mikel Arteta equalled his highest ever scoreline as a manager.
One man who took the spotlight was Declan Rice, who prior to the fixture, was yet to beat his former side despite facing them twice. His first reunion with the Hammers saw Arsenal get knocked out of the Carabao Cup after a 3-1 loss at the London Stadium, and the Englishman was booed by the home fans throughout the game.
Yesterday, West Ham reacted to their former star with hostility again, and the crowd booed him every time he gained possession. This received backlash from both fans and pundits alike, and British presenter, Piers Morgan voiced the opinion of many when calling them ‘classless’.
As the Hammers fans attempted to put the 25 year-old off his game, Michael Brown defended Rice on BBC Radio Five Live:
“I don’t get the Declan Rice boos, I don’t know whether it’s just a fun thing to try to put him off his game. Just leave him alone, what a player he was for West Ham and a great servant for them,”
After captaining West Ham to a UEFA Conference League trophy, critics believe the West Ham fans are wrong to treat their former-star with such hostility, and it is ungrateful to such a servant.
However, the booing fans defended their actions, and explained that it wasn’t personal to Rice but their loyalty understandably does lie with the club, and not the former-player.
However, as the game grew, and West Ham realised it was now about mitigating a humiliation, the fans became a little more light-hearted in their approach. The fans in claret and blue did begin to clap their former player when he was near the crowd to take corners, and many celebrated his wonderstrike which gave the Gunners a 6-0 lead.
At full-time, despite there being a largely decreased capacity after such an embarrassment, many fans in claret and blue also stayed behind to clap their former skipper.