Declan Rice has admitted it will be a strange feeling having to line up against his former club when Arsenal visit the London Stadium in 1st November.
It was originally set that the first time our former captain would face West Ham would be Boxing Day at the Emirates Stadium, followed by the return fixture in east London scheduled for February in the Premier League.
However, plans have now changed, as our Irons will compete with the Gunners in a few weeks time at the London Stadium as we look to overcome our London rivals to book a place in the quarter finals of the Carabao Cup.
The match is expected to be a fiery affair, with undeniable tensions raised between both clubs following the sale of Rice in the summer for £105m, and the England midfielder has confessed when speaking to Four Four Two that the return to his former home is expected to be an emotional experience for him.
“It’ll be pretty strange when I play against West Ham this season,” stated Rice. “There are so many lads I know and get on with – they’ll be saying stuff on the pitch, I’m sure!”
Rice acknowledges that the fans are likely to feel hurt over his decision to depart the club in the summer, but the former Hammer hopes he gets the opportunity to bid farewell properly – although whether the response will be reciprocated remains to be seen.
“Some of the players messaged me,” added Rice. “I had plenty of replies in the group chat we shared together, I was taken aback. They’re all such close friends of mine and I speak to them regularly. I texted the manager ahead of the first game this season, simply to say, ‘Good luck for the season and see you soon’
“I want to keep a positive relationship with him because he was so good to me, and the supporters were, too – they’re special. I know it’s hard when you see a player move on to another club, but I’m sure they understand – hopefully when I see them again, I’ll be able to say goodbye properly.”