Angelo Ogbonna has backed Declan Rice to bounce back strongly following Sunday’s 4-1 defeat at Arsenal.
19-year-old Rice featured for the 21st time in the Premier League this season as the Hammers went down to their Emirates Stadium defeat and Ogbonna was quick to highlight the progress he has made, despite the misunderstanding which led to the Gunners’ second goal.
West Ham gave a good account of themselves for the vast majority of the contest in north London and looked set to take a positive result home when Marko Arnautovic levelled in the second period, so Ogbonna says there is reason to take heart ahead of the final four games of the season.
“4-1 in the end was a bit unfair,” the defender said. “We played well, we went to Arsenal and for 80 minutes we showed ourselves well.
“Dec has played for a long time this season and every time he’s played well. He’s a confident boy, and it’s just a misunderstanding and I’m sorry for him.
“But we are positive and focused on the next game.”
The Hammers face another tough assignment this weekend when they welcome Premier League champions Manchester City to London Stadium, but Ogbonna is looking forward to the test as the Hammers search for the points which would secure their safety.
He added: “We have improved a lot. We took five points from the three games before this one and we were confident with the ball on Sunday and we maintained the tempo.
“What we have to learn about is not switching off when we concede a goal, because in football you can make a mistake – that’s football – but we have to be tough enough to get back, like we did at 1-0, but not after 2-1.
“We are always confident and we are focused on our goal. Our goal is to be safe, so we are still lucky that we are six points above [the relegation zone], but we cannot relax. We have to be focused."