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Pundit’s Choice: Declan Rice

Pundit’s Choice: Declan Rice

West Ham supporters have been making a lot of noise in recent times after seeing their team get back to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday.

Manuel Pellegrini’s men went into their clash with Burnley in East London having lost two and drawn the other of their previous three league matches, and thus in need of a response against Sean Dyche’s Clarets at the weekend. And they responded emphatically as a brace from Felipe Anderson alongside strikes from Marko Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez inspired the hosts to a 4-2 win at the London Stadium, thus strengthening their 13th place position in the Premier League table.

Thus, there have been many happy Hammers fans up and down the country in recent times, several of whom are likely to be intrigued by recent comments from Jamie Redknapp for The Daily Mail, in which the ex-midfielder compares West Ham sensation Declan Rice with Manchester City lynchpin Fernandinho.

And after another commanding display in the heart of Pellegrini’s midfield on Saturday, it’s not difficult to see why the former Liverpool and Tottenham man has compared him with 33-year-old Fernandinho.

Ultimately, Brazil international Fernandinho has been the beating heart of the City team ever since his arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk back in 2013, with the midfielder helping the Citizens win two Premier League titles and three League Cup crowns during his time at the Etihad Stadium.

And while the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, and Raheem Sterling earned most of the plaudits in Pep Guardiola’s record-breaking side last season, Fernandinho’s presence in the midfield was absolutely vital in giving City the balance needed, with the Brazilian so good both on and off the ball to allow the front men to do the business.

In fact, Guardiola labelled Fernandinho one of the best three holding midfielders in the world last year to further underline just integral he is to his team, which makes the comparison drawn by Redknapp between Rice and the Brazil star all the more remarkable – albeit he has certainly got a point.

The 19-year-old Hammers sensation may have found game time hard to come by in the first few games of the season, but upon reintroduction into the starting eleven against Everton back in September, the youngster has been an absolute revelation in helping the East London outfit embark on a solid run of form.

Rice was excellent as part of a three-man midfield alongside Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang in dominating Everton in a 3-1 win at Goodison Park, before backing that up with a very disciplined display to thwart Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea a week later at the London Stadium.

And he has continued his rich vein of form in that midfield area by starring in victories over Manchester United and of course Burnley at the weekend, with the Republic of Ireland international, as Redknapp outlines, possessing ‘all the hallmarks’ of City’s Fernandinho.

Both men are extremely tenacious off the ball in breaking up play and providing a screening to the backline, while both read the game very well to get into the right positions to affect play, be it in defence or indeed in attack.

Yes, Rice has still got a long way to go to reach the lofty heights of Fernandinho, but Redknapp is absolutely spot on to compare the duo, what with the former very much on the upward trajectory to become as influential and effective as the latter.

West Ham and Man City fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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