News Update


Declan Rice: The game-changing midfielder Arsenal requires to compete for the Premier League championship

The Gunners’ 3-1 triumph over Manchester United at Emirates Stadium included multiple story twists in stoppage time alone, but one prominent character deserved to be the game’s main attraction.

Arteta was responding to claims that he had begun to overcomplicate the techniques that had made Arsenal such formidable championship contenders and long-time Premier League leaders last season, before they succumbed to persistent pressure from Manchester City at the last fences.

What is undeniable is that Declan Rice, who cost £105 million from West Ham United, is the game-changing acquisition Arteta had in mind when he spent so much time and effort pursuing his top summer transfer target.

Rice was brought in for games like this, at times when Arsenal had been mainly frustrated by Manchester United. They even feared they were going to lose until the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) declared replacement Alejandro Garnacho had started his run too soon before scoring what he thought was the winning goal in the 88th minute.

The 24-year-old Rice had been the game’s standout performance, providing calm and order to a game in which both sides appeared to be tense, falling short of the expectations of Arteta and United rival Erik ten Hag.

Rice then delivered the game-winning contribution late in the second half, lying unnoticed at the far post at a corner and past United goalie Andre Onana at the near post with a little but critical deflection off substitute Jonny Evans.

As a surprised United sought for an equalizer, Gabriel Jesus’ solo goal was a flourish that calmed any remaining worries.

However, Arsenal fans knew who was driving this victory.

Big players provide big moments to decide big games. Rice delivered on all fronts.

A huge shout echoed across Emirates Stadium as the new Rice anthem – a predictably re-worded reworking of Vanilla Ice’s hit ‘Ice Ice Baby’ – began.

Rice received applause at the last whistle and again when he came for post-game media obligations. Nobody has questioned England’s playing skill or mental toughness in the face of his high price tag and higher expectations. This performance and victory proved it.

“Arsenal is a massive club, and you feel the pressure, but I try to put in performances,” he remarked, scarcely removing the grin from his face.

“I am eager to learn and grow, and we want to take things to the next level.” Everyone has been wonderful. I like to laugh and talk to others, and I’ve fit in nicely.”

Rice was undoubtedly needed to make the difference here since Arsenal lacked the flow and energy that saw them set the pace for so long last season before their late collapse.

There were concerns regarding Arteta’s changes, particularly the arrival and role of new signing Kai Havertz.

So this win not only calmed nerves, but also took Arsenal into the international break on a high, when everything seemed to be going wrong as they awaited the VAR decision on Garnacho’s strike.

Havertz does have his detractors among Arsenal fans, who wonder why Arteta saw the need to pay Chelsea £65 million for a player who is gifted but erratic, arguably an unnecessary luxury item in what had been a stable system.

But none of those misgivings were dispelled today, as Havertz was virtually unnoticed except from a dreadful early fresh air shot with the goal at his mercy.

Then, in the second half, he fell down under a challenge from Aaron Wan-Bissaka, only to have a penalty awarded by referee Anthony Taylor overturned by VAR.

Arterta has no such reservations, but it is reasonable to wonder what Havertz’s best role in this Arsenal club is and what he brings to the explosive combinations of last season.

There isn’t a single question about Rice.

Few players are a certainty at £105 million – an exorbitant fee, to be sure, but the outcome of market pressures – but Rice is one, and he has been displaying how important he will be even while Arsenal’s early-season form has been shaky.

Manchester United were humiliated after Marcus Rashford took them a 27th-minute lead, only for Arsenal skipper Martin Odegaard to equalize seconds later.

A lively cameo from £72m striker Rasmus Hojlund on his debut provided some encouragement, with the 20-year-old throwing himself about to excellent purpose and hinting he may be the physical presence and focal point United has sorely missed.

When injuries to Victor Lindelof and Lisandro Martinez left them with Harry Maguire, effectively an unwanted outcast under Ten Hag, and the 35-year-old emergency signing Jonny Evans manning the defensive barricades in those crucial closing phases, it was a harsh reminder of their current predicament.

The relief and celebration from Arsenal fans at the end contrasted sharply with the anguish in the corner of United supporters.

But Rice has demonstrated why the Gunners paid such a high price, and there will undoubtedly be more installments in the future.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *