But next Monday they host fellow strugglers Stoke knowing a defeat would drag them right back into trouble ahead of a tricky run-in including fixtures against Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City.
But it was entirely fitting, therefore, that an Englishman should steal the show.
"I'm repeating this many times and I'm getting bored. At least he is positive in what he is doing".
The latter's 20-yard shot deflected just wide halfway through the first half, before Cesar Azpilicueta put a free header over the crossbar from the resulting corner. Key upsets were losing to West Ham and Crystal Palace away, along with drawing to West Ham at home on Sunday.
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The victory stretches Arsenal's winning streak in all competitions to six successive matches and lifts them to 54 points, three behind Chelsea, who in turn trail Tottenham in fourth by ten points.
'I'm very focused on West Ham at the moment, that's my job and that's what I'm here to do, to fight for this team, ' he added. "For me, as a youngster, it's all I ever knew, living 10 minutes from the training ground and going to loads of the games".
It was a weekend in which the England goalkeepers excelled.
They needed everybody to come to the party and this saw Marco Alonso in unfamiliar territory when he let go at Hart, who pulled off a brilliant save.
With six games left, the draw left West Ham in 14th place, only six points short of the target of 40 for survival that their manager David Moyes has set them.
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"I love being part of that England squad and that'll never change", he said this week.
Alvaro Morata got goal side off a cross from Eden Hazard, but his attempt at a back-heel finish didn't materialise as it sailed across goal.
Then, the bolt from the claret and blue.
And in the 73rd minute Marko Arnautovic collected Gary Cahill's weak headed clearance and cut the ball back for Hernandez to slot home.
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It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Rice which have seen him make his senior global debut and play a starring role in Ireland u21's dramatic last-gasp win over Azerbaijan last month.