Declan Rice deserved some sympathy after West Ham’s 5-0 defeat at the hands of Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday, according to Football.London journalist Sam Inkersole.
The young midfielder was without experienced partner Mark Noble due to injury, and faced a barrage of pressure from a marauding City side for much of the game.
And Inkersole has suggested that he was not to blame for the heaviness of the loss.
Writing in a piece for Football.London, he said: “You have to feel sorry for Declan Rice, one of the best young talents in the Premier League, who was left completely exposed time after time.
“He took it well though, he made a number of excellent tackles and interceptions like he usually does, but the 20-year-old can’t do it all by himself.
“If ever the absence of Mark Noble was evident, it was on Saturday lunchtime.”
You have to agree with Inkersole on this one. Rice is an outstanding player, but even the best midfielders in the world would struggle to stifle this Manchester City side all by themselves. The issues largely stemmed from the fact that Jack Wilshere was asked to deputise for the absent Noble. On a technical level, Wilshere is probably twice the player Noble is, but with regards to his ability to run the midfield and sniff out danger, there is no real comparison. Without Noble in the side, Rice was forced to make four tackles and two interceptions, compared to his average of 2.9 and 1.5 respectively in those categories last season, as per Whoscored. His workload increased dramatically, and while that may be acceptable against more beatable opposition, expecting him to pick up the slack against City was always going to be a big ask. The sooner Noble returns, the better.