West Ham United midfielder Declan Rice has proven himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League this season, but he was certainly shown up against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.
On the chalkboard
It was always going to be a hard task for the Irons in west London given they had lost two of their previous three top flight fixtures, and it proved to be the case.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini started Rice alongside Mark Noble in a 4-2-3-1 system, with the former expected to protect the backline – as he has done on so many occasions throughout the current campaign.
The 20-year-old has excelled in that role time and time again with his ability to intercept and win the ball back, but it was a different story against Maurizio Sarri’s men as he was overrun and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in particular ran rings around him in the opening 45 minutes.
Tables have turned
Rice has had his praises sung constantly and received an England call-up this term, whereas Loftus-Cheek has found first-team starts hard to come by for the Blues.
Perhaps their respective fortunes are beginning to change now though, with the former hardly impressing against a big team on this occasion given he has been linked with moves to Manchester City and Manchester United.
While the 23-year-old does play in a more advanced position than his fellow Three Lions man, he showed a couple aspects of his game that if the Irons starlet took on, would allow him to reach the next level.
He used his strength, power and work rate when on the ball to create problems for his opponents, and it is something that Rice probably doesn’t utilise enough.
He certainly has the height and muscle to do this, but for whatever reason he tends to play it safe – perhaps no surprise given his age.
The youngster is clearly a great player in the making but by no means the finished article, and if he looks at his international teammate’s display on Monday he may just get there.