David Moyes’ “absolutely dominating” titan Declan Rice will be key to West Ham United beating Crystal Palace in the midweek London Derby clash.
The Irons host the Eagles on Wednesday night looking to move within the top-four of the Premier League table, with a Champions League place potentially up for grabs by the end of the night depending on results elsewhere should Moyes orchestrate a seventh win of the season.
West Ham have struggled to get the better of Crystal Palace in their recent meetings, having claimed their only win in their last six encounters back in 2018 when Manuel Pellegrini’s men edged a 3-2 victory after overcoming an early James McArthur goal.
Shutting down McArthur will be key to Moyes taking his first win over the Selhurst Palace natives whilst in charge of West Ham, and maintain a fierce record over the south London side that features just one defeat in nine career meetings.
McArthur has been on top form for the Eagles this season as one of Roy Hodgson’s most heavily relied on players, with appearances in 10 top-flight fixtures and the fourth-most minutes played by any Crystal Palace player.
Only defender and former West Ham man Cheikhou Kouyate has recorded more passes than McArthur, with Hodgson seeing the ball fall at the Scottish midfielder’s feet for 410 passes, per WhoScored, as he spreads play to the Eagles’ influential forwards Wilfried Zaha and Eberechi Eze.
The 33-year-old has been pivotal off the ball, too, with a team-high 31 successful tackles, 14 interceptions and the second-most passes blocked with 13.
Moyes preventing McArthur from getting on the ball and dictating the flow of the game will be key to West Ham avoiding a third-straight defeat to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night, and that is where Rice steps in.
The Irons will need to rely on the defensive side of Rice’s talents when they host the Eagles at the London Stadium, which should be no issue for the man ex-Hammers defender Rio Ferdinand can only wax lyrical about.
“They [West Ham] have got some good players. Declan Rice, at the moment, is a standout player,” Ferdinand said on his official YouTube channel. “He is absolutely dominating the centre of the park.”
Arthur Masuaku is the only West Ham player to have won a greater number of ground duels than Rice in the Premier League thus far this season, with the DR Congo international ranking top with 46 to his England international teammate’s 37, per SofaScore.
Rice’s success in the duel has seen the 21-year-old average 3.1 a game, plus 1.2 in the air, for an overall success rate of 51%, while recording 2.3 interceptions, 1.6 successful tackles and 1.0 clearances. And building on those numbers will be key to keeping McArthur quiet and West Ham beating Crystal Palace.