Declan Rice’s return from injury was one huge silver lining for West Ham as their recent poor form continued on Saturday afternoon.
The Irons were dealt a devastating blow to their already slim top-four chances after they could only return to East London with one point, making it three losses and one draw from their last five outings.
However, the 22-year-old powerhouse was the rare positive from their disappointing showing at the Amex Stadium.
Rice had missed their last six matches after picking up a knee problem whilst on international duty but in reality, it was like he was never away as he was once again cut above the rest on the pitch.
He captained the side in the absence of Mark Noble and shone above his fellow Hammers teammates.
As per SofaScore, the 15-time England international recorded a team-high 90 touches of the ball, meaning everything ran through him as he looked to control the match on his return to competitive football.
With those touches, Rice successfully made 94% of his 77 passes – again, the most of any visiting star and only further shows how much of an influence he has in this squad.
Considering he had been out for the past month or so, it was certainly an impressive showing despite the poor result.
“Excellent return to the side after a number of matches out. He allowed Tomas Soucek to push forward and shielded his defence expertly. Good on the ball which is an often underrated part of his game.”
His dominance through the middle was further evident by the fact that he didn’t lose a single midfield battle, winning 100% of his duels throughout the 90 minutes he was on the pitch.
It’s no wonder Noble has previously lauded his teammate as a “special talent” because not many could come straight back in from a serious injury and control a Premier League match like that.
Perhaps his return can fuel more positive returns in their final two matches of the season.
The Hammers will have to win both to stand a chance at qualifying for the Europa League, that’s for sure.