West Ham drew 0-0 with Aston Villa last night and one man was head and shoulders above anyone else on the pitch. Declan Rice oozed class with a commanding performance in the middle of the park.
Hammers fans have grown used to seeing Rice perform like this every week and he proved his class yet again. Without Rice in that role, West Ham might have really struggled against the Villans – especially after going down to 10 men.
Below, Hammers News looks at Rice’s performance in numbers (stats sourced via WhoScored). These figures prove Rice was the best player on the pitch by miles yesterday and highlight his importance to Manuel Pellegrini’s plans.
Declan Rice: Performance by numbers
Rice received some (unfair, in our opinion) flak for misplacing a pass during England’s win over Kosovo. It was his first misplaced pass in the game and spectators were very quick to forget all the other good work he did in that game.
Critics of the England midfielder, look away now. With 54 passes completed, Rice was second only to Manuel Lanzini in this department. And he completed a stunning 96.3 per cent of his passes. These included some superb forward and cross-field passes; long and short; drilled and floated.
But Rice’s most telling contribution yesterday was his defensive work. Aston Villa pushed for a late winner with the Hammers down to 10 men. However, there was no way through Rice’s brick wall in front of the defence.
The 20-year-old made six tackles (more than anyone else on the park), two interceptions and one clearance. He also won two aerial duels. Starting off in central defence has prepared Rice well for the defensive aspect of his holding midfield role.
It was a complete performance from West Ham’s homegrown star. Rice continues to get better with each game he plays and he kept the dangerous Jack Grealish quiet. His importance to this West Ham side cannot be understated.