West Ham fans are still on a high after watching their team come from three goals behind to earn a point away at Tottenham on Sunday evening.
Manuel Lanzini’s stoppage-time stunner is something that will go down in Hammers history but there was more to the Irons’ impressive comeback than simply a wondergoal by a wonderful Argentine.
Declan Rice is adored by West Ham fans but often overlooked in matches like this where the headlines are stolen by a glut of goals.
However, the England international’s ability to dictate play from the deeper-lying midfield areas is why the Hammers had so many opportunities in the closing stages of their 3-3 draw with Spurs.
In the first half of the draw, David Moyes’ side struggled to control possession. They lost the ball way too easily and that allowed Spurs to get more clear-cut chances at goal.
Stats by WyScout show how much more superior Tottenham were in terms of possession and pass accuracy on the first half, with West Ham improving massively at the break.
West Ham’s passing improvement was largely down to how Rice improved dramatically in the second half with the 21-year-old becoming far more accurate with his passes.
In one moment within the first six minutes of the game, Rice had an opportunity to sit back, assess the options available to him and pick out a pass.
Passes were on that ranged in difficulty but even though he had plenty of time and space to make a decision and find a team-mate, the England international made the mistake of running the ball into a dead end.
Rice burst forward and found himself under pressure from four Tottenham players from an array of angles. The only pass he had on, to Jarrod Bowen on the right, was always going to be a tough pass to find.
Rice’s reigned in the risk in his play in the second half and began to sit a lot deeper with the ball and really think about his options.
Stats by WyScout show that Rice failed with both of the two dribbles he attempted in the first half – he didn’t attempt any after the break.
Instead, we saw Rice show off his deep-lying playmaker abilities.
We couldn’t help but stand up and applaud his 65th-minute cross-field pass from the right to find Arthur Masuaku in acres of space on the left.
As he did in the first half, Rice had plenty of time and space on the ball to be able to find a pass but there were clearly fewer options for the West Ham midfielder to pass to.
Rice then launched a long-range pass over to Masuaku, who picked the ball up beautifully before being able to pass to an onrushing Aaron Cresswell.
Cresswell’s cross unfortunately only found Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris but it was a sign of things to come as in the next half an hour, the Irons found themselves level at 3-3.
Rice finished the match with an 86 per cent pass accuracy. As seen below, the midfielder had plenty of success in playing the ball out into the wide positions, which is where West Ham focused a lot of their attacks against Spurs and ultimately scored their goals from.
Rice is only 21-years-old – a lot of people forget that – so he’s still learning about what kind of player he is. But we are seeing more and more often that he can prove to be a deep-lying midfield who sits back, assesses the options, springs attacks and also remains solid defensively when his team are out of possession.
More performances like that by Rice against Spurs will help West Ham continue with this impressive start o the season they’ve had.
In other West Ham news, Jamie Carragher’s compared Lanzini’s equaliser to an iconic Champions League moment.