Premier League

Report: The Hammer of the Year’s stunning season in numbers

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Declan Rice did not miss a single twist or turn of West Ham’s dramatic season as the 21-year-old featured for 3420 minutes, playing every second of the Hammers’ 38 Premier League matches. Only six other outfield players equalled that feat across the division, and it was just one of the many incredible statistics from the Irons star, which helped to earn him the Hammer of the Year award.

Angelo Ogbonna came second and Michail Antonio third after a spirited late run, but the winner of West Ham’s player of the season was never truly in any doubt. Rice came second in the previous two campaigns, while also scooping the Young Hammer of the Year for three consecutive seasons, but this season he graduated to the prestigious main honour.

Defensively Rice has excelled throughout the 2019/20 campaign, and no player at the London Stadium could touch his 3.1 tackles per match, while also recording two interceptions per game. The defensive midfielder was a ball-winning machine in the engine room, continually cutting out opposition attacks to turn over the ball when danger was looming.

He also committed a lowly 41 fouls, despite regaining possession so frequently, highlighting the almost immaculate timing of his tackling. In total 52 per cent of his tackles were successful, completing 116, again the most of any Iron.

However, it was not just in regaining possession where the England international excelled, as Rice played 1,733 passes, for an average of 45.6 passes per match, which no other West Ham player eclipsed. The Irons’ play was channelled through the defensive midfielder, who’s playmaking capabilities in a holding role are perhaps underrated given his incredible pass accuracy of 86 per cent in the Premier League. Only Manuel Lanzini, who featured significantly less frequently, boasted a better average, 86.9 per cent, of any Hammer.

It may have taken until the 36th match of the Premier League season for Rice to notch a goal but when he did it was an absolute pearl, curling the ball beyond Ben Foster’s reach to put West Ham 3-0 up in the vital win over relegated Watford. The 21-year-old has only three top-flight strikes to his name, but he showed fans what he is capable of with the long-range effort.

Defensively and in possession, Rice was imperious during the 2019/20 season and a worthy winner of the Hammer of the Year award. He’s now notched 99 top-flight appearances for the Irons, and hopefully, he’ll remain at the London Stadium next term to break into triple figures.

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