Declan Rice scored his first career goal in a magnificent way to win West Ham their London derby against a lethargic Arsenal.
The first half of the game was a fairly even affair, with no side taking charge. Both sides had good chances to take the lead but nothing clear-cut, as the home side started to ramp up the pressure on an Arsenal side who looked nervous throughout the opening encounters.
It was early in the second half when young Hammer Declan Rice truly announced himself to the footballing world. After a poor clearance from a corner, the ball fell to ex-Gunner, playmaker Samir Nasri, who played the ball to Rice, with the midfielder placing the ball into the top corner of the Arsenal goal.
After the goal, Arsenal pushed for an equaliser but could only produce a couple of goals that were ruled offside – much to their dismay.
Emery rang the changes and brought on Arron Ramsey and Lucas Torriera in order to boost the Gunners flat midfield. These changes, however, failed to spark a comeback. The defeat means that Arsenal have only picked up two points on the road in their last five games. Alternatively, for West Ham, it means a seventh win in their last ten games and sees them push into the top ten.
Is Arnautovic staying?
When substituted, the big Austrian seemed to wave his goodbyes to the West Ham fans. His performance seemed distracted and he never got the run of the ball. The Austrian is linked with a big money move across to China, and West Ham fans should be excited to see who comes in as his replacement.
With a rumoured £50 million coming in, if he is sold, then the Hammers could go after Chelsea’s Michy Batshuyai. The Belgian striker, who has been long linked with a move to the Hammers, would be a fantastic signing.
Do Arsenal need reinforcements?
After the match, it was clear to see what Arsenal are lacking. That is a dominating midfield presence to take control of a match. The current crop of midfielders were outplayed by West Ham’s Declan Rice, Mark Noble and most notably ex-gunner Samir Nasri. A move for Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi or Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure could be a smart move for around £30 million.
These two enforcers would add some proper steel to the Gunners midfield and allow more attacking players like Matteo Guendouzi to get forward. This would provide a sense of solidification at the back, whilst also bringing in players who can contribute in an attacking sense as they both have an eye for goal.
What do West Ham need in the window?
Forgetting the current Arnautovic situation, which would leave West Ham searching for a new striker, they still have some business to do. The Hammers really need to sign a box-to-box midfielder to properly help out Declan Rice, and they have been linked with moves for Newcastle’s Jonjo Shelvey and Besiktas’ Gary Medel.
Shelvey would definitely be the preferred option as he has shown his Premier League quality time and time again. Gary Medel however, is a more curious case. A mixed short spell at Cardiff City a few years ago is his only experience of the league.
Considering Medel is 31 years old too, then he wouldn’t be a long-term solution in a position West Ham have been trying to solve for the last three seasons. Recently, news of a move for Napoli’s Amadou Diawara would be a more expensive investment. But, at only 20 years old, this could be a brilliant signing for now and the future.
Can Arsenal get top four?
After the defeat, Arsenal are left in fifth place and could potentially be six points off the top four. Unai Emery has definitely brought back a feel-good factor to Arsenal in the early stages of the season, although a Champions League place could be a push too far this season for the Gunners. Regarding next season, the top four could be a realistic target with a couple of good signings, especially in the midfield and central defensive positions.
Is Declan Rice the next big star from the Academy of Football?
The Academy at West Ham has produced some famous names over the years form Bobby Moore to Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand to Michael Carrick. So, will Declan Rice get to that standard?
With over fifty appearances for the Hammers at the tender age of 19, it is certainly looking likely. Now, with Rice having just scored his first career goal against Arsenal to win this crucial game, things are only going to get better for the combative midfielder. The good news for West Ham is that he has just signed a new long-term deal with the club amid rumours of Manchester City being interested in him. If Rice continues on his current path, the sky is truly the limit.
England manager Gareth Southgate will be even more determined to convince Rice to change his national allegiance from Ireland to England. Rice is already an accomplished holding midfielder who will challenge all of the current aspiring England internationals for a place in the starting line-up.
Man of the match: Declan Rice
Rice won the game for West Ham by scoring a fantastic goal early in the second half. To add to his goal, he dominated the midfield and stopped Arsenal from controlling the game with his interceptions and tackling. There certainly is a lot more to come from the young man.