Gary Neville has compared Arsenal star Declan Rice to former Gunners captain Patrick Vieira following his performance in his side’s 6-0 mauling of West Ham United.
Rice, 25, came back to haunt his former side West Ham on Sunday (February 11) at the London Stadium. The English midfielder grabbed two assists and completed the north Londoners’ dominant victory with a sensational 65th-minute strike.
The England international has been one of Arsenal‘s standout performers this season with his consistent performances at the heart of midfield. He’s made 33 appearances across competitions, scoring four goals and providing five assists.
Neville waxed lyrical about Declan Rice after he ran the show for the Gunners in their drubbing of the Hammers. He touched on how the Englishman allows the likes of Jorginho to come into the side and add composure (via Sky Sports):
“It allows them to play Jorginho who can bring real composure in big games at times because he (Rice) has got the legs to actually cover for Jorginho’s lack of legs. There was a couple of times last season when Jorginho was playing and it looked like it was too slow.”
The Manchester United icon then compared Rice to Vieira alluding to his energy and how he makes up the ground:
“With Rice there, you always feel like they can get there. Vieira was like that for Arsenal for years, used to cover the ground so well. It was unbelievable what he used to do.”
Vieira is regarded as one of the Gunners’ all-time greats and a Premier League legend. The Frenchman was a menace at the heart of Arsene Wenger’s midfield, making 405 appearances and using his pace and power to real effect. He won three Premier League titles as well as seven other major trophies during his time with the north London outfit.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta insists Declan Rice still loves West Ham
Today was a special occasion for Declan Rice as it was the first time the Arsenal midfielder clashed with his former side at the London Stadium. He departed the Hammers last summer and joined the Gunners in a reported £105 million deal.
However, Rice was a hero during his time with David Moyes’ side, captaining them to UEFA Europa Conference League glory last season. He appeared 245 times for the west London outfit, scoring 15 goals and providing 13 assists.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta touched on the former Chelsea academy youngster’s first appearance away at West Ham. He said (via the Premier League’s official website):
“Well I’m really happy with him because I know it’s a very emotional and special day for him because he loves West Ham so much. Today he had to focus on the task and what he had to deliver.”
Rice was brought off immediately following his goal which was the visitors’ sixth of the afternoon. He received applause from the home support and Arteta was happy to see that response:
“I was really pleased to see the class of the crowd to give him the reception I think he deserves.”
Declan Rice’s performance and goal capped off a superb victory for Arsenal which saw them get revenge over the Hammers for a 2-0 loss earlier in the season. They sit third, two points behind leaders Liverpool after 24 games.