West Ham ace Declan Rice is undoubtedly one of the first names on Manuel Pellegrini’s team-sheet.
The 20-year-old Hammers man has firmly established himself as one of the best holding midfielders in the Premier League over the past 15 months.
He is incredibly important to the way in which West Ham play. Rice is integral to West Ham’s attacking, free-flowing playing style. The England international performs a lot of the less glamorous jobs, and that often goes under the radar.
The midfielder also always makes himself available for his defenders.
So it can safely be said that he is almost indispensable to West Ham.
And therefore, Marco Silva’s comments on the 20-year-old should be a real worry for Hammers fans.
The Everton boss told reporters how he instructed his team to target Rice, as quoted by the Daily Mail:
“We had a plan to find space either side of Declan Rice and Theo was key. It was a tough moment for him when he got that injury against City in the first minute. His was an individual performance of the highest level along with others.”
After Everton’s success against West Ham, other teams might just be looking to copy their tactics.
And that could leave the Hammers with a real problem.
If Rice is targeted, and nullified, Manuel Pellegrini’s men will undoubtedly be a weaker side.
And so, because of this, Pellegrini will now have to find a way to counteract that. Perhaps West Ham could mix things up and play with a three man midfield. Or two deep-lying midfielders, limiting the space for the opposition to play in.
Whatever happens, the Hammers boss needs to think outside of the box, because every other team will undoubtedly now be aiming to copy Everton’s blueprint to success against West Ham.