Quarter-final draw spoils near-perfect night for Rice-baiting Hammers fans
Carabao Cup Fourth Round
West Ham (1) 3 White og 16, Kudus 50, Bowen 60
Arsenal (0) 1 Odegaard 90
It was all just about ideal for the West Ham faithful - a fine derby win under the lights against much-fancied opponents and the chance to laud it over the man who had the temerity to desert them in the summer.
Declan Rice was the fulcrum of the Irons' march towards the Europa Conference triumph in Prague last season, but there wasn't much gratitude on show when he made his entrance off the bench on 56 minutes.
At first it was 50-50 between those applauding their former talisman and those booing in anger over his £105m defection to north London. But as the minutes advanced, the more antipathetic reaction held sway.
Taunts of: "You should have signed for a big club," rang out and grew louder as the second half reached its climax. The victory was assured long before the end - underpinned by two goals in 10 minutes at the start of the second half from Mo Kudus and Jarrod Bowen.
But as they made their way home, those overjoyed fans received a jolt. The quarter-final draw - made at 11pm once Sky had finished throwing adverts in the way to delay proceedings - provided a nasty sting in the tail.
The Hammers have been paired with Liverpool at Anfield - a fixture that has not exactly proved very successful for the east Londoners over the years.
A 3-1 defeat at September was typical of the way things have gone up there for the Irons since football was invented. They have lost on each of their last seven outings in front of the Kop.
A 3-0 win achieved in 2015 was the only victory in the past 54 visits to that corner of north west England and only the second since way back in September 1963.
Rice came on with the game already looking up - between the second and third goals. And even though Mikel Arteta also threw on Bukayo Saka, Gaby Martinelli and Martin Odegaard late on, it could only have been to give those players a gentle warm-up ahead of Saturday's big game at a resurgent Newcastle.
This was only Arsenal's second defeat of the campaign, but it looked on the cards from the moment Ben White turned a Bowen corner into his own net with a near-post header after a quarter of an hour. The Gunners protested that Aaron Ramsdale had been manhandled in the melee but those claims fell on deaf ears.
The game settled into a holding pattern of Arsenal passing the ball around to no great effect. They lacked pace and precision and the Hammers defended comfortably - content to let the visitors play in front of them.
The resting of Arsenal's A-listers once more threw light on the relative ineffectiveness of Kai Havertz and Jorginho - the ex-Chelsea pair continuing to dwindle into insignificance.
But this was a fine night for the Hammers, whose discipline and quick breaks brought rewards. Kudus, who made an eye-catching first start against Everton at the weekend, powered in the second after latching onto a long pass from halfway by Nayef Aguerd and sidestepping Oleksandr Zinchenko.
And soon after, Bowen crashed in the third - deflections taking the ball past a despairing Ramsdale, whose season seems to have been reduced to cup ties now that David Raya is Arteta's first choice.
Odegaard's late strike was not much of a consolation. Most of the away end had emptied by then in any case, leaving just Hammers fans to continue their taunts towards their former hero.
"We wanted to play a very different game and compete," Arteta said. "We have to see much more from the team and earn the right to win. I'm very disappointed. I'm responsible for that."
After three disappointing defeats in a row, this was more like it from the Hammers - even if they know history suggests reaching the semi-final is still a tough prospect.
Hammers: (4-2-3-1) Fabianski - Coufal, Mavropanos, Aguerd, Emerson - Soucek, Alvarez - Kudus (Kehrer 89), Lucas Paqueta, Benrahma (Ward-Prowse 81) - Bowen
Gunners: (4-3-3) Ramsdale - White, Kiwior, Gabriel, Zinchenko (Tomiyasu 57) - Fabio Vieira, Jorginho (Rice 57), Havertz - Nelson (Saka 66), Nketiah (Odegaard 80), Trossard (Martinelli 66)