In only his third Premier League start for West Ham, Declan Rice was up against it today as the Hammers traveled to Manchester City.
Having come on mid-week for the injured Winston Reid as West Ham suffered a humbling defeat to an Everton side supposed to be struggling themselves, a free-scoring City side were probably the last thing the London-born centre-half wanted to be up against.
Yet, living up to his tag as a very promising young player, Rice delivered a performance that perhaps best demonstrates what he can do, and what he has yet to learn.
After a fairly frenetic start to the match, a lack of restraint from Rice made him the first to enter Mike Dean's book.
The opportunity for "bantz" was not missed by City's Twitter account.
16. Mike Dean tells Rice to simmer down and brandishes the game's first booking.
🔵 0-0 ⚒ #cityvwhu
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 3, 2017
Rising to the occasion though, Rice played his part in a very structured first-half performance from the visitors.
Declan Rice holding his own against the best side in the league 👍 #MCIWHU
— Raf Diallo (@Raftastico) December 3, 2017
Declan Rice should be playing every week
— Joe (@Evxrest) December 3, 2017
@_DeclanRice for hammer of the year
— Chris (@chriscod1993) December 3, 2017
It got to the point where some English fans were getting a bit carried away about a player who has played at underage level for Ireland across all levels.
Got a feeling Declan Rice will turn out to be in the England senior squad within 2/3 years. Just needs more game time and experience 👌🏼
— Danny Jackson DJ (@DannyJacksonDJ) December 3, 2017
With a lead to defend as the second-half kicked off, there was never any doubt that City's response would be ferocious.
As is to be expected of an eighteen-year old, Rice did look shaky at times, and, when Nicolas Otamendi ultimately dragged the league leaders level, Rice will look back at the sequence of events leading to the goal and know he could have done better.
City equalise after Otamendi turns in Jesus cross, moments after Adrian made a terrific save from De Bruyne free-kick. But Declan Rice lucky to still be on field. Booked in first half, he should have got a second yellow for taking down Delph on edge of penalty area #MCFC #WHUFC
— James Ducker (@TelegraphDucker) December 3, 2017
With their backs now firmly to the wall, one got the sense that City's proclivity for snatching late winners would work against West Ham's favour.
A wonderful pass over the top from Kevin De Bruyne played David Silva in. Touching the ball by Adrian, City established a slim lead they were unlikely to relinquish.
However, looking far more capable than they did during their mid-week defeat to Everton, West Ham and Rice will take plenty of positives from today's defeat.
Plenty of West Ham fans were very happy with what they had witnessed from the Irish U-21, Declan Rice.
One final thing - let's not forget we had an 18-year-old kid playing at the heart of our defence against one of the best club sides in the world. He really shouldn't be, as I've said before, but I thought Declan Rice (and Ogbonna, alongside him FWIW) was magnificent today.
— KUMB.com (@kumbdotcom) December 3, 2017
Never expected anything but a loss today but at least we showed that we can defend to some extent! Well played @_DeclanRice outstanding today!!
— JimmyTurner⚒ (@JimmmyTurner) December 3, 2017
Declan Rice what a Talent he was superb for 90Mins.
— pique (@MusaGassama6) December 3, 2017
Can't fault that performance. Special mention to @_DeclanRice top quality ⚒
— Blane Breheny (@realbbreheny) December 3, 2017
@_DeclanRice You young man showed what a star your going to become outstanding today mate.
— gary lee (@Gary29565) December 3, 2017