Rice: Masuaku dismissal could've cost us dearly

  • by Staff Writer
  • Tuesday, 17th September 2019

Declan Rice had a few choice words for team mate Arthur Masuaku after the latter's dismissal left the Hammers with only ten men against Aston Villa.

The full back was given his marching orders by referee Mike Dean midway through the second half of the goalless draw with Aston Villa and left West Ham facing an uphill struggle for the remainder of the game.

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Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, West Ham's young English international suggested that he had been disappointed by Masuaku's second caution of the game - especially as manager Manuel Pellegrini has specifically informed his players during the half time interval not to make any rash challenges.

"I said to Arthur 'what are you doing?' - he looked at me and said: 'It wasn't a foul'," recalled Rice.

"I haven't seen it yet but he was already on a yellow. When you're on a yellow, especially with VAR, you've got to be careful and you can't be making silly challenges.

"Arthur has been excellent since he came back into the team, but ultimately that could've cost us tonight."

Despite having been reduced to ten men West Ham held on to ensure they remain unbeaten away from home this season - a result that Rice admitted he was pleased with given the circumstances.

"We're very happy with the point," he said. "When we went down to ten we knew it was going to be tough, because they've got some top players - Jack [Grealish], John McGinn, the striker [Wesley].

"When Arthur went off we really dug in deep. If this was the West Ham of last season we would've lost that game and that's where the manager has got us together.

"But we dug in well and were still creating chances. That was a the positive thing - we didn't just sit back, we were still trying to go for the three points. I think we can be happy with the night's work."

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Despite missing out on an opportunity to rise to third spot in the Premier League, Rice maintained that West Ham remain a contender for a top six position come the end of the season.

And that, he believes, is a result of the squad's inherent quality and the confidence installed in each player by Manuel Pellegrini.

"If you look at the players we've got, we should be pushing for top six without a doubt," he argued.

"Last season we were going to teams like Wolves and Cardiff and we were losing. That let us down, but we've started the season well. We feel really confident now as a team and we're pushing for three points every week.

"We could've gone third tonight, that was in our heads. But we're on eight points and that's eight points better off than we were after five [games] last season. So we're seeing it all as positive, for sure.

"From the moment I came back in pre-season it's been a very happy camp. Everyone was delighted to see each other and every time we're on the training field we're having a laugh and a giggle.

"When we play now we play with confidence. We're defending hard and we're attacking hard - and we're all feeling confident that we can go out there and get the three points."

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