The Chalkboard: West Ham must start Rice in defence against Liverpool

West Ham United continue to flatter to deceive under Manuel Pellegrini and were on the wrong end of a thrashing on Tuesday, as they lost 3-0 at Wolves.

The result was their third defeat in as many games in all competitions and came on the back of losses against AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League and, embarrassingly, AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup.

On the chalkboard

The Hammers had not one stand-out performer against Wolves, much like their performance against Wimbledon, a team rock bottom of League One.

But Angelo Ogbonna appears to be one man who is really struggling and was exposed time and time again at Molineux.

Per Whoscored, he made just one tackle across the 90 minutes and failed to deal with the movement and interplay between Wolves’ strikers Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez, and fans were absolutely crucifying him after the match.

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A game against Liverpool on Monday offers no chance of a reprieve, such are the fearsome talents of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Of course, Ogbonna has been parachuted into the team after Fabian Balbuena’s injury, but he has looked a fish out of water and Pellegrini would be well advised to drop Declan Rice back into defence as he bids to shore up a backline leaking goals at a dangerous rate.

Assiduous defender

Rice has the ability to play anywhere on the pitch, but he has experience of playing as a centre-back and is clearly a better defender than the error-prone Ogbonna.

Deploying the 20-year-old at centre-back would also add a calming presence alongside Issa Diop, who enjoyed an excellent start to the season next to Balbuena.

Rice offers the assiduity to mop up any potential threats effectively and also distribute the ball with precision, an attribute that is clearly lacking in the erratic Ogbonna’s game.

If the Hammers are to have any chance against the Reds, who appear to be steaming towards the Premier League title, they are going to have to reinforce their backline somehow.

Playing Rice ahead of Ogbonna seems the only logical way of doing just that.