The first rule of showbusiness. Always go out on a good gag.
Arsene Wenger did on Sunday. A lovely bit of work, involving Declan Rice and Joe Hart, that helped hand Arsenal three points to start the manager's farewell tour.
Yet do not be fooled by the conclusion to this less than momentous occasion. Wenger is not riding the crest of some emotional wave after 22 years an Arsenal man.
Alexandre Lacazette had made sure of the points for Arsenal by firing home via a deflection in a late flurry of goals
The French striker points to the skies after netting the third goal that killed the contest at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday
Alexandre Lacazette embraces his strike-partner Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after netting two late goals for Arsenal
Aaron Ramsey celebrates with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his cross into the box found its way into the back of the net
Marko Arnautovic fired West Ham level with a blistering drive on his left foot 13 minutes after Nacho Monreal's opener
The Swiss international celebrates in front of the away fans after bringing West Ham back level in the game on Sunday
Nacho Monreal fires home on the volley from Granit Xhaka's corner-kick to put Arsenal ahead just after half-time
The Spanish left-back celebrates after scoring his seventh goal of the season to give the Gunners the lead on Sunday
Arsene Wenger receives a warm ovation from the home supporters as he prepares to take his seat in the dugout
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny (Maitland-Niles 45), Iwobi (Aubameyang 70), Ramsey, Welbeck (Chambers 88), Lacazette
Subs not used: Mertesacker, Holding, Macey, Nelson
Goalscorers: Monreal 51, Ramsey 82, Lacazette 85, 89
Booked: Xhaka, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi
West Ham: Hart, Rice, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Zabaleta, Kouyate, Noble, Masuaku (Carroll 86), Fernandes (Lanzini 60), Joao Mario (Hernandez 60), Arnautovic
Subs not used: Hugill, Adrian, Evra, Cullen
Goalscorers: Arnautovic 64
Booked: Zabaleta, Arnautovic
Referee: Lee Mason
Season at a glance
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Marko Arnautovic equalises with a thunderous strike for West Ham. CLICK HERE for more from MATCH ZONE
This was a subdued, rather soulless, affair, Wenger's name barely celebrated, less so his achievements and it was only in the last ten minutes when Arsenal scored three times that the ground let its voice be heard.
That it took an absolutely calamitous piece of defending to turn the game in Arsenal's favour is symptomatic of their malaise this season.
West Ham were ordinary and deserved nothing less than defeat – but this was not a 4-1 performance in achievement or atmosphere. Arsenal's fans did not sing in support of Wenger. They sang when they were winning. It was a very modern send-off.
When Nacho Monreal gave them a lead after 51 minutes, untroubled in the penalty box from a Granit Xhaka corner, Arsenal looked as if they might build from there. Instead West Ham equalised through sloppy defending and a smart finish from Marko Arnautovic and looked as if they might snatch a draw against the odds.
Yet David Moyes has won four games in 32 against Wenger for a reason and his team sunk deeper and deeper, inviting Arsenal on in a way that would ultimately prove fatal.
Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin puts pressure on West Ham midfielder Joao Mario in the early stages on Sunday
Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi tries to get the ball under control under pressure from West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku
Arsenal centre-back Shkodran Mustafi slides in to try and win the ball as Marko Arnautovic charges forward
Arsenal striker Danny Welbeck gets his foot on the ball to start an attack as West Ham skipper Mark Noble watches on
Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny heads towards goal as the hosts look for a way through during the first half
West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate puts pressure on Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey during the early stages of the game
After 82 minutes, a calamitous episode gave Arsenal the win. Aaron Ramsey crossed and Rice ducked under it, perhaps imagining a call from Hart. The goalkeeper, stunned by this development, was unprepared and allowed the cross in at his far post.
Recriminations followed, and much merriment from the home stands. At least two people had got the message about Wenger's send-off, though. More empty seats suggested it was not received by all.
Arsenal bullied, West Ham collapsed dismally. Alexandre Lacazette hit one at the far post to make it three, and then another soon after to confirm a scoreline that did not reflect the day. Not that West Ham did not deserve it – more than Wenger deserved better, all round.
Those expecting an outpouring of emotions pre-match, or even an appreciative nod of thanks, would have been mightily disappointed. Arsene Wenger may have been mourned as one of the greats since the announcement of his impending departure, but around these parts it would appear familiarity has bred, if not contempt, then most certainly apathy.
Not only were there rows of empty seats, as usual, there was none of the noise and fury it was felt would mark Wenger's first game since the news. It was thought the Emirates might be a cauldron, if not Anfield on a European night, then surely a place high on emotion and the desire to give a manager of 22 years his due. Not a bit.
Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin slides in to try and block the attempted cross by West Ham's Arthur Masuaku
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette weaves between the challenges of West Ham pair Mark Noble and Cheikhou Kouyate
Arsene Wenger delivers instructions to his players as they take a drinks break in sweltering conditions in north London
Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka bends a free-kick around the wall but it is easily parried by West Ham keeper Joe Hart
The ground was subdued, the mood sated by sunshine and maybe lunchtime beer. Wenger determined not to make a fuss, and they took their cue from him.
Dressed in a grey cardigan, white shirt, red club tie, he took his seat inconspicuously on the bench, with barely a sustained singing of his name.
Only when the West Ham contingent in one corner attempted humour at his – and Arsenal's – expense, did the home fans rise in his defence. It didn't last long. The match began and torpor set in. To be fair, the opening 45 minutes, gave a reasonable clue why many around Arsenal consider his race run.
It was a dull game, against ordinary opposition, and it was impossible not to remember the days when Arsenal would have swept such an obstacle from their path.
Mohamed Elneny receives medical attention after picking up a knock from a challenge with Mark Noble in the first-half
The Egyptian looked distraught as he was carried off the field on a stretcher and waits to discover the extent of the injury
The departing Arsene Wenger was the focus of Arsenal's matchday programme for the clash with West Ham on Sunday
Instead they were reduced to half-hearted pot shots from Hector Bellerin, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey, and the odd dangerous set piece.
Laurent Koscielny should have done more with a Granit Xhaka corner after nine minutes, while Xhaka tested Joe Hart with a free-kick which he may well have caught in his pomp, but chose to parry instead. Fortunately, for him, this time it did not spill to an opponent.
West Ham had odd flurries through Marko Arnautovic and Joao Mario, but nothing to raise the afternoon above the mundane. When Arsenal, almost inevitably given the circumstances, took the lead, the locals indulged in an old favourite.
'One-nil to the Arsenal,' they chorused, a song that dates from the pre-Wenger era. That it became as near as he got to a serenade perhaps shows why the time for change has come.