West Ham hands Arsenal 2nd loss in 3 EPL games

Arsenal's Sokratis Papastathopoulos, right, blocks a shot from West Ham's Marko Arnautovic during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
West Ham's Declan Rice, right, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Arsenal's Matteo Guendouzi attempts a shot past West Ham's Angelo Ogbonna, right, during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Arsenal's Granit Xhaka tackles West Ham's Samir Nasri, right, during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang attempts a shot during the English Premier League soccer match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium in London, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

LONDON — West Ham handed Arsenal a second loss in three English Premier League matches, damaging Unai Emery's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.

Youth team graduate Declan Rice scored his first West Ham goal in the 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Saturday. The 19-year-old Rice placed the ball into the top of the net after being set up by Samir Nasri on the former Arsenal midfielder's league debut for West Ham.

It left Arsenal six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, which beat Newcastle 2-1.

Yet to gain a significant uplift in fortunes in the post-Arsene Wenger era, Arsenal is facing another season in the Europa League unless it wins the competition to qualify for the Champions League.

Fifth-placed Arsenal is only two points better off after 22 Premier League games than in Wenger's final season in charge.

By beating Arsenal at home for the first time since 2006, West Ham climbed to eighth place.

But there is uncertainty at the east London club over the future of striker Marko Arnautovic, who appeared to wave goodbye to the Olympic Stadium when he was substituted in the second half. It came at the end of a week when the Austrian pushed — through his brother — to be sold to a Chinese club and West Ham insisted he was not for sale.

Mesut Ozil didn't even appear on the bench for Arsenal with uncertainty over the playmaker's future.

"I decided the idea of the players that I think are the best for this match," Emery said. "We win with him, we lose with him. I think it is not one player (which means) we can't win or lose.

"Today the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match. We could've won or lost. We continue working with every player because they are all important, but today the decision was to come with these players."

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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