West Ham welcomed Declan Rice back to the London Stadium and then promptly sent him and Arsenal packing on the end of a 3-1 Carabao Cup defeat.
Rice, who lifted the Europa Conference League trophy as Hammers captain last season, was back at his old club for the first time since his £105million switch to the Gunners.
But he will not be getting his hands on the Carabao Cup this season after strikes from Mohammed Kudus and Jarrod Bowen, following an early own goal by Ben White, sent the north Londoners crashing out.
Rice started on the bench as Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta made six changes to his line-up for the fourth-round clash and the most of the damage was done by the time he was called upon.
West Ham took the lead after 15 minutes when Bowen’s corner was inadvertently headed past Aaron Ramsdale by White at the near post.
Gunners keeper Ramsdale, making his first appearance since the win at Brentford in the previous round, complained that Tomas Soucek had a hold of his shirt as the ball came over and he probably had a case but, with no VAR in operation, the goal stood.
White attempted to make amends but unfortunately for Arsenal his header at the other end was not quite as accurate and Lukasz Fabianski tipped it over the crossbar, with Eddie Nketiah heading the resulting corner wide.
After the break, Ramsdale made a fine save to deny Bowen, who was sent through by Lucas Paqueta, with White completing the clearance on the goal-line.
But the second goal arrived in the 50th minute when Ghana winger Kudus collected a long ball into the box from Nayef Aguerd, skipped past Oleksandr Zinchenko and rifled a low shot through the legs of Gabriel and into the net.
Rice was the only goalscorer the last time West Ham beat Arsenal, in the Premier League in 2019.
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) November 1, 2023
“You should have signed for a big club” was the mischievous chant aimed at the 24-year-old when he came out to warm up.
Much of the build-up to the match centred around the reception the England midfielder would receive and when he was sent on in the 56th minute the boos were quickly drowned out by a standing ovation from most of the home fans.
But, before Rice had a chance to get into the game, West Ham had a third after Bowen collected White’s headed clearance and lashed it past Ramsdale via a deflection off Jakub Kiwior.
Martin Odegaard scored a consolation goal with the last kick but it was West Ham’s night as they marched into the quarter-finals.