Belfast Telegraph

Petr Cech: West Ham win shows Arsenal can handle the pressure

Petr Cech says Arsenal's thumping 5-1 win at West Ham proved they can handle the pressure in the title race.

The Gunners kicked off at the London Stadium knowing Chelsea had moved six points ahead of them following their 3-1 victory at Manchester City.

But Arsenal responded in the best possible style as a second-half Alexis Sanchez hat-trick fired them up to second.

"It became a kind of must-win game for us when Chelsea won and obviously the gap opened to six points," goalkeeper Cech told the club website.

"We knew what we had to do and we did it in a very professional way, so we are happy.

"We a lot of opportunities in the first half but it wouldn't go in. In the second half at 1-0 their keeper made some fantastic saves and you think it could still be a dangerous scoreline.

"I know a lot of people would have been a bit anxious, but we showed the maturity not to panic and we kept going. We thoroughly deserved the goals for our performance."

Arsenal led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Mesut Ozil's opener, set up by Sanchez.

The Chilean then ran the show in the second half with a sparkling treble, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also found the net as a late rush of goals floored the Hammers.

Andy Carroll marked his return from injury with a consolation but it could not mask the growing problems at West Ham, who remain a point above the relegation zone.

Manager Slaven Bilic pulled no punches afterwards, accusing his players of a lack of dedication, but he did not shirk his own responsibility for the shambles.

"I'm not trying to make excuses and I'm not trying to say who is guilty," he said.

"I said it to the staff and to the players and it is my responsibility as the manager and I have to get it back as quickly as possible, because we don't have it at the moment."

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