West Ham United went top of the Premier League table with a resounding victory on Monday night.
David Moyes’ side ran riot against ten-man Leicester City at the London Stadium as a Michail Antonio brace not only steered the Irons to back-to-back wins to kickstart the 2021/22 campaign but also broke Paulo Di Canio’s club record in the process.
The 31-year-old ran the show upfront for the Hammers as he notched his 48th and 49th Premier League goals for the club and whilst the winger-turned-talismanic striker was clearly influential to the result, there was another name who deserves to reap the rewards.
Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma, who also assisted the Spaniard’s opener, were other candidates for the ‘Man of the Match’ award, which understandably went to the powerhouse up top after his late brace.
However, vice-captain Declan Rice, who took the armband on the night, pulled the strings from midfield against a very impressive Foxes outfit propelled by the likes of James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans in the engine room.
The 22-year-old has continued a fine summer with England at Euro 2020 as he controlled the Hammers’ tempo throughout the 90 minutes. As such, the 24-time Three Lions international recorded the second-most touches (83) of any West Ham player, as per SofaScore.
That resulted in a phenomenal 95% passing accuracy from a squad-high 66 passes, including two key chances, only further proving that everything ran through the deep-lying monster in midfield.
Furthermore, his 8.1 match rating was only bettered by the brace-scoring Antonio – not even the two other goalscorers received a higher rating (7.8), which speaks volumes to just how pivotal Rice is in this system under Moyes.
Rice earned high praise from the press, too. The Evening Standard’s Jack Rosser claimed that the £63m-rated star “ran the midfield” and was “sharper than anyone on the pitch” in his attempt to get the Irons going.
The young skipper also did his duty defensively, managing to register four tackles (joint-most in game), three interceptions (most of any West Ham player) and two clearances, as well as winning 100% of his aerial duels and seven of ten ground duels, as per SofaScore.
On the above evidence, Rice played an instrumental and perhaps underrated role in their win over Leicester City in east London on Monday night. The £60k-per-week beast was surely the unsung hero for Moyes.