Declan Rice says West Ham United are aiming to close out the season on a winning note.
The Hammers secured their Premier League safety with a 2-0 victory at Leicester City on Saturday and now conclude the 2017/18 campaign with home fixtures with Manchester United and Everton.
Defender Rice, who made an impressive 30th first-team appearance at the King Power Stadium, believes the squad will have taken great confidence from their performance against the Foxes, where the defence secured a first clean sheet in five matches and the win was confirmed by Mark Noble’s outstanding 25-yard volley.
Now, with their top-flight status confirmed, the impressive teenager says the players can express themselves at London Stadium.
I’ve never seen us so focused in the dressing room before the game and so ready to go out there and put in a performance
“I would say that’s one of the best performances we’ve put up this season,” said the No41. “We knew before the game that it was crucial that we got three points.
“A point maybe would have been enough, but three points were the aim and I’ve never seen us so focused in the dressing room before the game and so ready to go out there and put in a performance.
“We’re focusing now on Man United and we want to go out and win that and we want to win the Everton game as well and try to finish as high as possible in the table.”
After Joao Mario had put West Ham in front, Rice had a grandstand view of Noble’s clincher, which saw his fellow Academy of Football graduate belt a unstoppable volley into the bottom corner of the Leicester net.
“Nobes scored one in training a few weeks back which a worldy with his left, but I’ve never seen a ball hit so sweetly like that,” the 18-year-old smiled. “Even to take it on… I was right in front of it and it just swerved into the bottom corner.
“What a goal by Nobes! He was outstanding all day, as well. He’s a proper captain and led by example.”
As always, Rice was cheered on by his family, who have travelled the length and breadth of the country with the Claret and Blue Army during the youngster’s first full season in the Premier League.
At the final whistle, the defender joined the supporters and his teammates to celebrate staying up, and the centre-back said survival was the least the fans deserved for their loyalty this and every season.
“When you’ve got fans like that, who travel home and away and pay lots of money, when we put on a performance like that, it means they can go home happy.
“My brother was in there and he and they didn’t stop singing, so a massive ‘Thank you’ to the fans, because they’ve been excellent for us all season and we really do appreciate that.”