Declan Rice showed West Ham what they missed against Brighton … the midfielder’s injury was arguably the biggest cause of their recent struggles.
- West Ham United have been hit hard for their top four ambitions
- The Hammers could only play with a 1-1 draw with Brighton on Saturday evening
- Star midfielder Declan Rice played for the first time since March 21
The comment was brief and yet it felt charged. It came from David Moyes, after West Ham saved a draw against Brighton but lost too much ground.
He had been asked about Declan Rice, who was pulling the strings between boxes in a club shirt for the first time since March 21.
“We missed him,” admitted Moyes. ‘It had nothing to do with us, he got injured playing for England, not West Ham. So we had to put up with that. That has had an effect. It was good to get him back. ‘
Declan Rice pulled the strings of West Ham United for the first time since March 21
There was annoyance in his tone, and you could empathize with that. West Ham is going through a difficult period at the wrong time, with a run of four points from five games that prevents them from playing in the top four and struggles to even get into the top six.
In those briefs, you have to look at Rice’s knee injury and ask yourself if it was the biggest cause.
It took just half an hour after Rice’s return to Brighton to fully realize what West Ham was missing.
During that time, he made four major intercepts and two large blocks at the edge of his area, before gradually reasserting himself as the pacesetter of the attacking unit, deciding when to stay and when to go.
Not many players have such an intuition, and fewer still have the technical skills to translate what they read into what they write.
For Gareth Southgate, who was at Amex Stadium, Rice should be one of the main components this summer with England. For West Ham, he is also the reason they can still hold on to the hope of making it to the top six.
The midfielder impressed and showed his team what they were missing lately
The risk is they concede too much – Danny Welbeck’s goal started with West Ham fouls – and the offensive indecisiveness sparkled for Said Benrahma’s equalizer.
But with West Brom and Southampton still to play and Rice on their squad, the panic surrounding West Ham’s Europa League qualifying must be kept in proportion.
For Brighton, there’s little to play for as a collective – although Welbeck’s future is surrounded by uncertainty, with his contract coming next month.
The former Arsenal man’s sixth goal of the season will help him in the upcoming negotiations.
Manager Graham Potter said: ‘The time to sit down and find a solution is at the end of the season. We are happy with him. ‘