Declan Rice was back to his “bullish best” against Watford on Saturday, according to Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole.
The 20-year-old West Ham midfielder was partnered alongside the returning Mark Noble for the first time this season, and Inkersole believes that it was an important factor in the 3-1 win.
Writing in a piece for Football.London, he said: “The young Englishman had been pulled from pillar to post in the opening two games as the Hammers midfield was overrun enormously.
“Rice did his best but there is only so much one 20-year-old can do without needing some help.
“He has a safety net in Noble that allows Rice to play his natural, aggressive game and in the second half especially, the 20-year-old was back to his bullish best.”
Noble coming back for West Ham is exactly what the side needed after a poor start to the season. The skipper is not the most glamorous or noticeable of players, but he elevates those around him and he’s not afraid of doing the dirty work. With him in the side, Rice looks so much more secure, and is able to play a more adventurous and aggressive game. Noble was only dribbled past once on Saturday, and had a pass completion rate of 93.9%, as per Whoscored. He is Mr. Dependable, and it cannot be underestimated how much better the Hammers look with him in the side. He might not be around forever, but as long as he is wearing the claret and blue the Hammers will have a reliable and committed servant. He will be remembered as one of the Irons’ greatest sons.