David Moyes’ West Ham United side got 2022 off to a perfect start against Crystal Palace on Saturday evening, with the Hammers running out 3-2 victors at Selhurst Park.
The fixture looked to be done and dusted at halftime, with Michail Antonio’s 22nd-minute opener and Manuel Lanzini’s brace giving West Ham a 3-0 lead at the interval.
However, Palace did come extremely close to levelling the scores right at the death, as Jean-Philippe Mateta’s spectacular bicycle kick flew just wide after Odsonne Edouard and Michael Olise had pulled two goals back for the hosts.
Nevertheless, the Hammers hung on to all three points, a result which – coupled with Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat against Manchester City – sees Moyes’ men well and truly back in contention for a top-four spot.
Aside from the result, the displays of a number of his starting XI will have been extremely encouraging for the 58-year-old manager – particularly that of Declan Rice, who ran the show after returning to the side following his suspension.
Indeed, over his 90 minutes on the pitch on Saturday evening, the defensive midfielder enjoyed 60 touches of the ball – the joint second-most of any West Ham player – completed 41 of his 46 attempted passes – one of which was key – found his man with two of his four attempted long balls and ended the fixture with an assist to his name – setting up Lanzini’s stunning first goal.
The £67.5m-rated man also impressed in metrics more typical of his position, making three tackles, three interceptions, two clearances and winning four duels, totalling 12 defensive actions.
Football.London journalist Tom Clarke also appeared to be impressed with the performance of the England international, awarding Rice a seven in his own player ratings, as well as stating of the midfielder’s display: “Back in the team and back to running games. Drove forward well and got West Ham on the front foot after a sloppy start.”
Indeed, it is clear for all to see that the academy graduate did run the game for Moyes’ side against Crystal Palace, something which Rice will have to maintain going forwards should his team have any chance of securing a Champions League finish in the top flight this season.