The last few days may have been ones to forget for young West Ham defender Declan Rice after his error cost his side dearly at the Emirates, but things could be on the up as reports indicate that the club are set to offer the 19-year-old a new contract to commit his future to the club.
The London Evening Standard say that bosses are preparing a new offer to take his deal beyond his existing contract, signed in March 2017, which has only two years left to run.
The Ireland international began the season well under Slaven Bilic, usually playing in a holding midfield role, but has become a staple in the side in his new role in a three man defence.
Whether his long-term future lies in central defence or in midfield could depend upon who takes up the seat in the Hammers’ dugout next season, but it is clear that Rice has huge potential.
The youngster is a strong tackler who isn’t afraid to get stuck in and reads the game well, particularly for a player with so little experience, and has justified his place in the Irons team of late.
With such an ageing squad being built around players past their best like Pablo Zabaleta and Patrice Evra, particularly so in defence, Rice’s youth adds a long-term aspect to the planning and represents a player finally making the breakthrough where the likes of Reece Oxford and Reece Burke have struggled.
Another factor worth taking into consideration, and Rice’s representatives will likely have in mind when negotiating his new wage, will be that veteran James Collins’ contract is up this summer, and Rice could be a long-term replacement who is ready to step up as of now.
Is Pedro Obiang the answer for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham?
The Spaniard is yet to feature this season.
Something is yet to click for new West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, with the London outfit falling short in their first two Premier League games of the 2018/19 season.
This weekend saw an opening day away defeat to Liverpool followed up by a 2-1 comeback victory for Bournemouth at the Olympic Stadium, accompanies by a performance that will have disheartened even the most optimistic of fans.
Despite spending over £100 million during the summer window, it is evident from the first two games of the season that the Hammers need a ball-winning central midfielder, capable of bringing balance to the defence and attack.
Sitting on Manuel Pellegrini’s bench is Spaniard Pedro Obiang, who became Slaven Bilic’s first signing for the club, back in 2015. The midfielder was a regular in West Ham’s side up to Christmas last season, but he made just one appearance in the Premier League since February.
Athletic and capable of moving the ball forward, the 26-year-old will be a much more dynamic option than ageing West Ham captain Mark Noble. Meanwhile, he would also improve the spine of the team defensively.
Up next for the Hammers is Arsenal. With a central midfield or Noble and Wilshere/Rice clearly not working, it seems a no-brainer for Pellegrini to promote Obiang to the starting XI for the upcoming clash against Unai Emery’s side.
Ian Wright lambasts Angelo Ogbonna’s West Ham display, time for Issa Diop?
The Italian defender was poor during West Ham’s defeat to Bournemouth.
West Ham United had a game to forget at the weekend as their season starts with something of a stumble. The Hammers were beaten by Bournemouth at the London Stadium 2-1. It was a game that West Ham fans expected more from, considering the summer business done by the club.
But they were outdone by poor defending. The way in which West Ham conceded both their goals was not appreciated by one former West Ham striker.
Ian Wright, who scored nine goals in 26 games for the Hammers, was speaking on BBC Sport’s Monday Night Club when he lambasted the performance of West Ham’s defenders.
“I am expecting a lot more from West Ham at home and I didn’t see it.
“The Callum Wilson goal, as much as Callum has to get a lot of credit for, the defending. The ease the ball went through from West Ham’s midfield. He was surrounded by five players and not one of them made the challenge.
“It’s poor play from West Ham. Even the second goal, which Cook scored. Good luck to him, he outmuscled Ogbonna (but) Ogbonna’s not even looking at the free-kick coming in.”
– Ian Wright on West Ham’s defending
One man who he picked out by name was Italian centre-back Angelo Ogbonna. He certainly had a game to forget for the Hammers against Bournemouth. His sentiments echo that of many West Ham fans, who would like to see Ogbonna given the chop for the next game.
West Ham did, of course, sign a new centre-back this summer who has not yet featured for the Hammers. Issa Diop cost £22 million from Toulouse but has so far had to bide his time on the West Ham bench.
With Ogbonna out of sorts, it could be Diop is finally handed his chance at the back for West Ham in their clash with Arsenal at the weekend.
Reece Oxford can be the answer to West Ham’s woes
The Hammers have had problems at the start of the season.
Many West Ham may have forgotten about Reece Oxford after years on the fringes but he could prove to be a vital asset for Manuel Pellegrini this season.
The 19-year-old made his Premier League debut as a fresh-faced 16-year-old on the opening day of the 16-17 season away from home against Arsenal, starring in a surprise victory against the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.
It seemed that the Hammers academy graduate had the world at his feet but Slaven Bilic wrapped the versatile talent in cotton wool, perhaps too much, as he has made just three further Premier League appearances since.
A spell on loan with Reading was followed by spending the majority of last season with Borussia Monchengladbach, where he impressed enough for the Bundesliga side to express an interest in a permanent deal – despite just a handful of opportunities.
It seemed likely that Oxford would leave on a permanent basis this summer as the signings of Fabian Balbuena and Issa Diop pushed him further down the pecking order for a central defensive role, where he is already ranked behind Declan Rice and Angelo Ogbonna.
A position in central defence is a huge waste for Oxford though, as his ball playing abilities are far superior to that sort of role and he showed in that famous performance against Arsenal that he can beal a real star in a holding midfield role.
Despite all of Pellegrini’s spending this summer, that position is an area where West Ham lack depth as neither Jack Wilshere or Mark Noble are truly suited to the position, leaving just new signing Carlos Sanchez.
In a long, gruelling campaign it is dangerous to have such limited depth in the position and Pellegrini should, therefore, look to Oxford to provide depth – especially as Sky Sports now report that he is ready to commit his long-term future to the club.
“The manager has expressed his desire to keep me at the club and I want to repay the faith he has shown in me. I’m ready if they need me. I believe they do need me. So I’ll be ready.”
The 19-year-old is spot on with his comments, as it has been clear from the opening two games that something is missing from Pellegrini’s side. While the attack shows signs of promise, the defence still continues to look gaping.
West Ham now have the unwanted record of having conceded 74 goals in 40 Premier League games since the start of last season, a much larger tally than any other top-flight side, and Oxford can help to plug those gaps.
While he is not the sole solution to West Ham’s problems, he can provide a massive boost – especially in a market where clubs like Fulham are forking out a reported £27m for Jean-Michel Seri.
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