Declan Rice has hailed the current West Ham team as ‘the best he has been part of’ since making his debut as a teenager in 2017.
The Hammers moved into the Champions League places on Sunday afternoon with a gritty 2-1 victory over London rivals Tottenham.
Their current points total of 45 is the highest amount they have achieved at this stage of a season in Premier League history, with David Moyes and his coaching staff continuing to confound critics.
Even with a relentless fixture list, an ever-revolving door to the physio’s office and the financial impact of COVID-19 hitting the East End outfit, the Scot and his team have found ways to win.
When Lucas Moura found the net in the 64th minute at the London Stadium, the familiar sinking feeling began to creep in for Hammers fans across the country as Spurs (led by the resurgent Gareth Bale) pressed for an equaliser.
But the 22-year-old Rice epitomised everything that is good about Moyes’ industrious Irons as he refused to wilt under the pressure.
And, speaking to talkSPORT Breakfast on Monday morning, Rice admitted there is a unity and togetherness at the club which will make them a nightmare for any opponent.
He said: “I can say first-hand this is probably the best West Ham team I have been a part of in the four years I have been in the team.
“The unity, the love the lads have got for each other, the banter on a day-to-day basis and then when you’re on the training pitch and then matchday the seriousness to go out and get a win.
“The mentality has just changed completely and I think you can see that on the pitch. We are fighting for each other and giving 100 per cent, regardless of how the results are going to go.
“We know when we come off that pitch that we have given everything.”
Having lost just once in their past ten Premier League games, West Ham’s continued success this season comes from a resolute backline.
Whether it is four or five across the back, the Hammers are shielded expertly by Rice and his fellow midfield enforcer Tomas Soucek. The Czech Republic international has been a revelation at the London Stadium since arriving on on initial loan deal in the January 2020 window.
With eight goals in the league to his name already, Soucek is on course to finish the season as the club’s top scorer, but is not afraid to graft either. His heroic blocking on the line from a Spurs corner whilst his eye filled with blood has ensured cult hero status amongst the Claret and Blue faithful.
And Rice believes the 25-year-old is destined to usurp him as the ‘Hammer of the Year’ at the end of the season for his incredible efforts during this impressive campaign.
“You know what, he is so good,” he added. “I played against him for England against the Czech Republic and I knew then it was going to be a big game.
“To have him next to you in midfield, you don’t realise how much he actually does.
“He runs, he is strong, he gets in the box, he’s good in the air and he does everything you want everything a midfielder to do.
“Teams are probably coming up against Tomas and thinking, ‘Yeah we don’t want a battle with him today’. If you go hard, he will go even harder.
“Even at Man United when we played in the FA Cup and we came in two days after and he ran 17km.
“All the lads said, ‘That’s not normal Tom!’
“The season he is having, no doubt he is going to be Player of the Year and he absolutely deserves it as he is a great lad as well.”