Date: 12th September 2019 at 1:06pm
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Charlie Nicholas has blasted West Ham midfielder Declan Rice for making too many mistakes in recent performances.

Rice, 20, has had quite a solid start to the season for the Hammers, helping them win their last two matches in a row before featuring for England to win another two matches in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Although his second-half display in the 5-3 win against Kosovo wasn’t exactly a highlight, Nicholas still suggests that he thinks the Irons midfielder is over-rated.

“This is a very good return set of fixtures. Manuel Pellegrini is a smart man, and he likes to get a nice balance,” said Nicholas on the Sky Sports website.

“Jack Wilshere and Mark Noble will be back in. People are far too excited about Declan Rice, with lots of mistakes and clumsiness there, as is the predictability with West Ham. They do look to have found a man with goals in Sebastian Haller, who poses a physical presence too.”

Nicholas also predicted Aston Villa to win 2-1 against West Ham when the two sides meet at Villa Park on Monday night.

“Aston Villa have improved, but if they are playing at home, they need Jack Grealish to play 10-15 yards higher up the pitch, I keep saying it. He is a pass master but you want it in the opposition half and not near or on the halfway line. The combination of him and John McGinn is difficult for anyone to control. I like Wesley up front and I like what Villa have at the moment,” Nicholas added.

OPINION

Rice was widely criticised by sections of supporters on Twitter for his performances in an England shirt over the last week, so it is quite a shock to see Nicholas claiming that people are “too excited” about the West Ham midfielder. Rice still performed quite well against Bulgaria and Kosovo but yes, there were a couple of moments where he should have been a bit better than he was, mainly off the ball. On the ball, he looked quite composed and showed signs that he is maturing into a very complete defensive midfielder. In the Premier League with West Ham this season, Rice has averaged more interceptions [2.3] than any other player in Pellegrini’s squad and only Arthur Masuaku [4.3] has averaged more tackles per game than the England international [3.5], according to WhoScored. Is he really over-rated? If anything he is under-rated by those who do not support West Ham. Nicholas couldn’t be more wrong here.