Football

Declan Rice enjoying playing alongside ‘special’ West Ham players

West Ham captain Declan Rice has said that the club has a “special” group of players after an impressive 4-1 win over Aston Villa strengthening their position in the Premier League’s top four.

The 22-year-old England international put in another man of the match performance to inspire his side to victory, providing the assist for Ben Johnson’s opening goal before firing West Ham back in front from 25 yards after Ollie Watkins had levelled the scores.

Rice’s all-around performance was a symbol of his season so far. He dictated the tempo for West Ham from his deeper role in midfield, broke up play several times – including a tremendous flick header that took the ball away from Matty Cash – and was the player who instilled a bit of added belief and confidence amid an improved 10-minute second-half spell from the hosts at Villa Park.

Declan Rice

Declan Rice celebrates after scoring the second for West Ham United against Aston Villa in a Premier League clash on Sunday, 31 October. | PHOTO: LINDSEY PARNABY/GettyImages |

Rice who was speaking to the press after the match, admitted that David Moyes’ current crop of players were understandably riding high after an impressive recent run of results.

“It’s a special group at the minute, a special environment,” Rice said. “We wake up looking forward to training. Every game, we’ve been in it until the end. It’s a special place to play and as you can see by our faces we’re over the moon.

“I can definitely add [goals] to my game, I have four this season now, one with England and three for West Ham. It doesn’t get better than the feeling of scoring a goal. I love playing away too, you are in someone else’s stadium and get the away fans who travel and come to support us, so to score and hear them erupt is really special.

Though West Ham ran out deserved winners in the end, Rice added that he felt West Ham could have been even better – alluding to their inability to kill Villa off earlier despite having a numerical advantage.

Aston Villa 1-4 West Ham

Declan Rice scored to put West Ham United 2-1 up against Aston Villa in a Premier League clash on Sunday, 31 October. | PHOTO: Getty Images |

“We won 4-1 but we were sloppy in the second half,” he added. “We gave the ball away so much. The manager won’t be happy about that, I gave away a few passes. There were times we could have countered and given it away, but we did it in the last ten minutes and in the end, it played out how it should have done.

“We are joint third. The big question people asked before the season was whether we could do it again and could we get used to playing in Europe and the Premier League. We’ve found out we can. But there are still a lot more games to go. This is the level, the standard. We can’t drop if we want to be a big team.”

West Ham United will be in action again in midweek when they travel to Belgium to take on KRC Genk at the Luminus Arena in a UEFA Europa League tie on Thursday, 4 November before hosting second-placed Liverpool at the London Stadium on Sunday, 7 November ahead of the November international break where Rice is expected to be actively involved in the England national team squad.

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Sialah Nathan

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