Composed and defensively astute, they combine seamlessly to allow West Ham United’s forward players to thrive.
Neither has missed a minute of Premier League action this season, a factor that has been crucial to the success of David Moyes‘ side.
Breaking up play
All four midfielders read the play expertly, with Rice, Neves and Soucek all ranked inside the Premier League’s top five for interceptions.
They win lots of tackles and are quick to pick up loose balls, providing valuable protection to their respective defences.
While Rice is statistically the most efficient defensive midfielder among this quartet, they all boast excellent ball-winning data.
WOL/WHU midfield PL ranks
|Interceptions||Tackles won||Possession won|
|Rice||58 (2nd)||Rice||34 (9th)||Rice||210 (5th)|
|Neves||54 (3rd)||Neves||34 (9th)||Soucek||185 (9th)|
|Soucek||46 (5th)||Moutinho||29 (18th)||Neves||176 (12th)|
Against West Ham, Moutinho and Neves will be asked to cut out any service to the in-form Jesse Lingard.
One of Wolves’ three central defenders can step out and engage Lingard, but the midfielders will attempt to stop the supply.
The task could be slightly different for Rice and Soucek.
Soucek’s all-round threat
Quality ball-winners who also offer as many attacking contributions as Soucek are rare.
Only seven non-forwards have attempted more shots than the Czech’s 49 this season.
With Soucek working in tandem with Rice, one of the best passers in the competition, West Ham have great balance and variety in that area.
The two players complement one other perfectly and are a major factor as to why the Hammers are mounting an unexpected top-four challenge this season.