Declan Rice

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Declan Rice: West Ham ‘bullied all over the pitch’

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Declan Rice summed up West Ham’s performance at Burnley in one comment: “We were bullied all over the pitch.”

The England international was part of the Hammers side which lost 3-0 at Turf Moor, as they’ve now lost four of their last five Premier League games and haven’t won since they beat Man United on Sept. 22.

Speaking after the game, Rice lambasted his team for putting in a poor defensive display as the 3-0 scoreline flattered them.

“It’s been like this since the Crystal Palace game. We were nowhere near good enough. We haven’t kicked on and we have been poor,” Rice said. “There is a real buzz around the place during the week but it when it gets to the game and we go 1-0 down our heads drop. We need to do the basics – the simple five-yard passing, the tackling. We were bullied all over the pitch – Burnley were winning everything. It’s not good enough.”

Defensively they were poor with stand-in goalkeeper Roberto having another nightmare outing, as the Hammers continue to miss star goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski who is out injured until the end of December. But all over the pitch West Ham’s players looked disinterested and unable to battle with Burnley.

An even bigger problem for West Ham is that they now play all of Tottenham, Chelsea, Wolves, Arsenal and Liverpool in their next six Premier League games.

Manuel Pellegrini is under pressure with the Hammers just five points above the relegation zone.

After two years of big spending, West Ham are battling to stay out of the bottom five or six, rather than battling to be in the top six as many predicted at the start of the season.

Things have unravelled very quickly for the Hammers and Rice’s comments suggest they will have even bigger problems in the weeks ahead.

West Ham have lost against most of the teams they would expect to beat. Can they now raise their game and cause a few upsets between now and the end of December?

Ox, Hudson-Odoi in England squad; Grealish left out

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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Callum Hudson-Odoi have been recalled to the England squad after lengthy spells out due to the injury.

England play against Montenegro and Kosovo on Nov. 14 and Nov. 17 respectively. A point against Montenegro will secure England’s qualification to EURO 2020 next summer.

AOC and CHO have both battled their way back to full fitness in recent months and the attacking midfielders have been rewarded with recalls to the Three Lions setup as Hudson-Odoi last featured in March and Oxlade-Chamberlain had a brief return in September.

There is however no place for Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, as the midfielder is nursing a minor injury and didn’t feature in their defeat against Liverpool last weekend.

James Maddison has been called up by Southgate once again, as he is yet to make his debut and didn’t feature last month as he pulled out of the squad due to illness. Much was made about Maddison being spotted in a casino days later, but Southgate has rewarded the Leicester City playmaker for his fine form.

There are some injury concerns for England with Chelsea’s Ross Barkley and Mason Mount struggling with knocks, while Jordan Henderson is suspended for the game against Montenegro.

Below is the squad in full.


England national team squad

Goalkeepers: Tom Heaton (Aston Villa), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley)

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Ben Chilwell (Leicester), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Harry Maguire (Manchester United), Tyrone Mings (Aston Villa), Danny Rose (Tottenham), John Stones (Manchester City), Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea), Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)

Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Maddison (Leicester City), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), Declan Rice (West Ham), Harry Winks (Tottenham)

Forwards: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Callum Wilson (Bournemouth)

Mousset the super sub as Blades draw West Ham

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A festival of wasted chances mean both West Ham United and Sheffield United will rue their days in a 1-1 draw at the London Stadium on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Irons veteran Robert Snodgrass saw his first half goal canceled out by substitute Lys Mousset.

West Ham moves ninth with 13 points, two places below the Blades on account of goal difference.


Three things we learned

1. Ink healthy Yarmolenko’s name on lineup card: We’ve written before of how good it’s been to see the former Dynamo Kiev and Borussia Dortmund playmaker thrive, but Andriy Yarmolenko looks as good as ever and needs to be an automatic starter for Manuel Pellegrini. His vision and touch to set up Snodgrass and Anderson was immaculate.

2. Mercurial Mousset the hero again: Le Havre Academy product Lys Mousset has had trouble delivering on his bags of talent during stints with both Bournemouth and Sheffield United, but came off the bench to continue a purple patch. Having scored the lone goal in beating Arsenal on Monday, he was back post to bound a shot across Roberto and into the goal for 1-1 with about 20 minutes to play.

It’s his third goal in eight PL matches for the Blades, the same number he scored in 58 PL apps for Bournemouth.

3. Wasteful from both in deserved draw: Between George Baldock‘s pair of miscues in the final third for Blades and Snodgrass’ missed back post finish late, this one could’ve seen either side score three or more goals on the day. The managers will have more shooting drills cued up this week.

Man of the Match: Yarmolenko, with a fair nod to industrious Declan Rice of West Ham and strong Sheffield United center back Chris Basham


 [ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Sheffield United had a few chances and were the better money for a halftime lead, but the Blades were off the mark with finishing and the Irons also clogged shooting lanes fairly well.

The assist on West Ham’s opening marker was a thing of beauty, Yarmolenko well aware of Snodgrass and the space all around.

The Blades should’ve been level when George Baldock found himself in acres of back post space, but he took a touch and then his time before striking a hard shot that Irons keeper Roberto blocked and a teammate kept off the line.

Felipe Anderson came close to making it 2-0 in the 57th, but Dean Henderson did well to stop the Brazilian’s shot which was again set up by Yarmolenko.

Baldock missed another back post effort in the 62nd minute, covering his face with his hands at the bad Fortune.

Fortunately for him, Mousset arrived in the final 20 minutes to bound a back post effort past Roberto for a share of the points.

Watch Live: Everton v. West Ham

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Everton host West Ham United at Goodison Park on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Toffees have called this a ‘must win’ game to get their season back on track.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Marco Silva‘s men have lost four Premier League games on the trot and fans are starting to increasingly call for the Portuguese coach to be fired.

As for West Ham, Manuel Pellegrini‘s men have had a topsy-turvy start to the season but look set for a sustained push for a top seven finish this season.

In team news Everton make five changes from the team which lost at Burnley last time out, as Djibril Sidibe comes in to replace the suspended Seamus Coleman.

West Ham have Declan Rice in midfield after he struggled with illness over the international break, while Robert Snodgrass is back on the bench. Pablo Fornals and Arthur Masuaku come into the starting lineup for the Hammers.


LINEUPS

England struck by poor club form in qualifying blip

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What do you do as a national team manager when the best players in your group are struggling at the club level?

That’s the issue currently facing Gareth Southgate, and it’s spilled over into Euro 2020 qualification as England fell to the Czech Republic 2-1 on Friday, its first Euro qualifying defeat in ten years.

While its obvious England has a massive talent imbalance between offense and defense, the poor form plague has also struck, leaving Southgate with a host of difficult choices both up front and at the back. It has become such a pestilence that Southgate was left with no choice but to admit it after the match.

“In terms of the players, I think there are players who are not playing well for their clubs, but that is the situation we are in at the moment, certainly in a couple of positions,” admitted Southgate in the post-match press conference. “We collectively have to accept the result, but of course, as the manager, then I have got to accept that as well, absolutely.”

The England boss has some serious pondering to do up and down the pitch. Marcus Rashford has become a problem for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the suddenly stagnant Manchester United attack, and he gave way in the England starting lineup to young Jadon Sancho, who was unable to lift England on the day. In midfield, a now-broken Dele Alli was a guaranteed starter at the World Cup two years ago but was left out entirely this international break as Tottenham continues to flounder, while fellow Spur Harry Winks was relegated to the bench. Harry Maguire in defense has begun his Red Devils career well, but beside him was Michael Keane who has been downright poor at Everton thus far. Ross Barkley has lost his place at Chelsea and was left among the substitutes in Prague as well in favor of the in-form teammate Mason Mount, but with England misfiring Barkley was unable to change the tide off the bench.

The problem for Southgate is two-fold, and he’s damned no matter what. In the case of players like Alli, Rashford, and Winks, the England boss chose to replace them with less experienced players, which clearly upset the balance and cohesion within the squad. Yet he chose to stick with Keane, who has started every Euro qualifier thus far, in favor of a younger Joe Gomez and that backfired as well, as Keane toiled ineffectively in Prague. Gomez himself has lost his place at Liverpool to Joel Matip, and would have been another questionable option.

Injuries also played their part no doubt. Key players in Aaron Wan-Bissaka, John Stones, and James Maddison were axed due to injuries or illness, while Callum Hudson-Odoi was not selected as he recently returned from a long-term problem himself. Still, Wan-Bissaka’s absence left Southgate with no choice but to select a replacement, choosing Kieran Trippier on the edge of the back line, who has seen an up-and-down start to his Atletico Madrid career. Even Stones had dipped in form at Manchester City, falling completely out of the matchday squad in favor of Aymeric Laporte and Nicolas Otamendi before succumbing to an unspecified muscle injury.

These problems caused issues tactically for a squad that suddenly had to deal with a deviation from the norm. Southgate deployed a 4-2-3-1 with Mount in the central creative role, but according to Yahoo’s Kieran Canning, the national team has not played in such a formation in two years. Southgate mentioned multiple times in his post-match press conference how displeased he was with England’s off-ball structure and movement, a direct product of mixing and matching. “We tried something [in the second half] to make ourselves a bit more solid without the ball, and that didn’t happen,” he said. “We didn’t look any more solid, and we were poor at using the ball in the first half. That said, at 1-1, at half time, we were able to change that. I think we were better in the second half and we created chances to win the game.”

To make matters worse, the few players in good club form didn’t live up to standards on the international stage. Declan Rice, maybe West Ham’s best player so far this season, was miserable in a pivot with Jordan Henderson and hauled off in the second half. The Mirror says between the midfield pair, they made just one successful tackle through the entire match and completed just 11 passes in the opening 20 minutes of the game. Trent Alexander-Arnold, who has been one of many fantastic Liverpool players this season, was bafflingly left on the bench in favor of Trippier.

The issues facing Southgate are a stark reminder how long two years truly is. This England squad felt far more solid and secure with depth as it reached the semifinals of the World Cup just two year ago. Now, there are glaring holes and numerous questions at a host of different positions. With the starters floundering in Prague, Southgate’s choices off the bench have thinned considerably, and Rashford’s injection of quality off the bench two years ago in Russia 2018 is no longer to be found as he came on with 17 minutes to go on Friday. The rock solid World Cup back-three of Stones, Maguire, and Kyle Walker is nowhere to be found despite the presence of all three in the setup.

Little has changed personnel wise for England, and yet two years on after a promising World Cup run with a host of players in their prime, the squad now feels in flux again as key individuals are forced to fight for their places. Gareth Southgate does not sit in an envious position, looking for answers while keeping faith in some key squad members while making necessary changes elsewhere hoping not to upset the squad chemistry. A visit to Bulgaria on Monday represents a quick turnaround between two road matches, an opportunity to right the ship amid the necessary distraction of travel. Anything less than a convincing performance will allow lingering questions to fester for another month, plenty of time for the sudden dysfunction to become even more chronic.