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Rice was well below par v Crystal Palace

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OPINION

Much like Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk when he struggled against in mid-week, a poor performance from midfielder Declan Rice typically generates a minor seismic shock.

The has been nothing short of excellent for over a year now, since breaking into the first team for good under Manuel Pellegrini.

However, he undoubtedly crashed back down to earth against Crystal Palace on Saturday in his worst performance for ages. This was a really poor outing from the youngster, as Pellegrini’s men were beaten 2-1 at the London Stadium.

He was quiet all game long, something which sticks out like a sore thumb from a man who usually rampages around the pitch with all the energy of a jackrabbit.

And then it happened.

After just over an hour of football and with the Irons 1-0 up against the Eagles, Rice stuck his hand up in the air in his own box and could only look on horrified as a Leicester effort careened against it.

It was an absolute stone-wall penalty, and one that was correctly awarded. Left back Patrick van Aanholt stepped up for the visitors and dispatched the spot-kick past stand-in Hammers ‘keeper Roberto.

That was nadir, but Rice wasn’t good from start to finish. The statistics show, as per WhoScored.com, that he failed to produce a shot, key pass or dribble. Yes, his job isn’t to be overly-offensive, but you expect some sort of foray forward at some point in the game.

Defensively he made three tackles and an interception, but even those tallies are below what he typically achieves over 90 minutes. As Palace surged back into the contest in the second half, the 20-year-old completely failed to stem the tide of Eagles attacks.

There’s no cause for panic, here, and Rice will undoubtedly bounce back. But make no mistake about it, this was a poor display from the starlet.

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