Sheffield United: 'I expect them to play behind the ball' - Declan Rice reveals how West Ham United plan to nullify Blades' overlapping centre-halves this weekend
Declan Rice, the West Ham United midfielder, has revealed how the Hammers plan to nullify Sheffield United's overlapping centre-halves when the two sides meet at the London Stadium this weekend.
The hosts go into the game on the back of disappointing 2-0 defeat away at Everton, while the Blades are buoyed by a 1-0 win over Arsenal at Bramall Lane on Monday evening.
Rice described his side’s display at Everton as ‘shocking’ and is looking forward to getting back to their home stadium, where they have lost just three times so far in 2019.
“Sheffield United have performed well – they’ve beaten Arsenal, drawn with Chelsea, narrowly lost to Liverpool so we know it’s going to be tough for us,” the Republic of Ireland and England international said.
“But we’re the home team on Saturday and it’s massive that we go out there and put on a performance. Especially after the Everton game it’s going to be key that we get three points.”
Rice admits United’s start to the season has impressed him.
He added: “I expect them to play the same way they have all season, behind the ball, but we’re going to need to break that down. We came up against that when we played Palace and we struggled at times, but we’ve learned from that and I think on Saturday you’re going to see a performance where we’re looking a real threat in front of goal.
“I know the way they play and know it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be physical. They were in the Championship and League One so we’re expecting a tough game.
“I’ll be seeing the overlapping centre-backs in midfield. It’ll be a bit strange for sure, but it’s one we need to adapt to and I think we can nullify them going forward if we get the defensive shape and tightness right.
“Nobes [Mark Noble] will get us fired up, the manager will get us fired up and we’re going to go out there wanting to put on a performance to make everything right.”