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Danny Murphy puts West Ham in top six mix but says hopes rest on 'pivotal' Declan Rice

West Ham United have a chance of finishing in the top six according to Danny Murphy.

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The former Liverpool midfielder believes the West Ham team is balanced enough under David Moyes to mount a serious challenge for the European spots this season.

West Ham have made their best start to a season for five years.

The Hammers made it back-to-back 1-0 wins with victory at Sheffield United on Sunday.

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Back-to-back wins keep West Ham on upward curve under Moyes

The result lifted them up to eighth, six points off Premier League leaders Tottenham and two off the top six.

And Murphy told Match of the Day West Ham are in the top six mix.

But he warned it all rests on ‘pivotal’ Declan Rice as he raved about the midfield enforcer.

“Do you know what he gets better and better,” Murphy said on MOTD.

“He’s got the armband now, he leads by example and he does parts of the game that people don’t like to praise, and so well.

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Murphy says Hammers are in top six mix but it all rests on ‘pivotal’ Rice

“He reads the game brilliantly, his passing is becoming more progressive, let’s not forget he played two games for England, he’s had a lot of minutes.

“He has become a real leader in this West Ham side. He’s got fantastic awareness and sense of danger. He’s trying to get more forward in games… On set plays he’s becoming more of a threat (had a) great header that’s unlucky and hits the bar.

“And he’s just growing as a person and as a player. I think the whole balance of the West Ham team looks good but he is pivotal to it especially from a defensive point of view just mopping up, spotting danger.

“And I think he’s going to be a massive player for West Ham this season if they want to end up in the top six.”

West Ham’s start to the season compares favourably with the Farewell Boleyn campaign in 2015/16.

Moyes’s side are three points off the 17 the Hammers had after nine games that Dimitri Payet-inspired season.

But this time around West Ham have negotiated one of the toughest starts to a season possible.

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Shades of Farewell Boleyn

The Hammers recorded their record Premier League points total of 62 that year.

They finished just four points off the Champions League spots after a joint league highest 14 draws.

And West Ham had their first positive top flight goal difference since 1986 too.

The signs are there that West Ham could be in for a similarly successful campaign.

But as Murphy points out Rice is so crucial to the entire setup. And West Ham have no strength in depth in that position.

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