Declan Rice: How the summer’s best signing is powering Arsenal’s title challenge

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It’s encouraging from an England standpoint that the three blockbuster transfers in the summer are proving to be pivotal for their respective teams. There were hefty price tags and much anticipation on the shoulders of Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Declan Rice. 

All three have surpassed expectations and you couldn’t envisage Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Arsenal without them. 


By Dharnish Iqbal


A tug of war ensued between Man City and Arsenal for the signature of Rice, the former West Ham midfielder, as he eventually landed at Arsenal when the Gunners hit the £100m mark. 

The biggest compliment you could perhaps give Rice is that nobody is talking about that price tag now, as he has exploded since his arrival. The adjustment to signing for one of the elite teams in the Premier League from a club of lesser means is always huge. 

Look at the time it took for Jack Grealish to come to the fore at Man City. Kalvin Phillips could never find minutes after his move and has only recently looked for a move elsewhere in a bid to retain his England place – ironically, in Rice’s old position at West Ham. 

Rice has swiftly taken like a duck to water to the Gunners adjusted tactics. They didn’t sustain attacks like this last season, the football was more explosive. 

They still spring to life in attack but they pass teams to death, waiting for the right moment to strike and Rice is essential to this. Arteta summed it up perfectly after the win over Manchester United – “He was very dominant, in those big games, you need that – a player that grabs the game and understands when to add speed, when to break it down and when to control the game.”

He’s been the instant impact signing that marshals the midfield and grabs games by the scruff of the neck. A modern-day Patrick Vieira. The control of a game rests on Rice’s shoulders, the player responsible for setting the tempo. Taking the sting out of games when needed and calmly receiving from defence to pick out a pass.  

He’s played predominantly in a midfield two in-possession this season next to an inverted full-back, but you wonder what the setup would be if Jurrien Timber or Thomas Partey were fit. 

His stats showcase how involved he is in Arsenal’s build-up with 64 successful passes and 91% pass accuracy per 90. Whilst also averaging 83 touches per game, puts him in the top 90% for these three categories. 

The amount of big game performances and stand-out moments he has produced stick out. Vital last-minute winners at Luton and Manchester United. Arsenal didn’t sign him for his ability to chip in with goals from midfield but he’s in the 78% percentile for players in his position in terms of scoring.

A commanding, assured midfield performance at home to City making vital interceptions, challenges, and blocks to ignite the home crowd.

As well as being the controller when Arsenal have the ball he can break play up when opponents attack, averaging 1.43 interceptions per game. 

In certain games this season like Brighton at home, or the two Liverpool fixtures, out of possession Arsenal have fiercely pressed teams high up the pitch and not allowed them to breathe. Rice has been excellent in pushing up and tracking an attacking midfielder so when he receives the ball, Rice’s anticipation means he is just behind them not allowing the opposition to move.

Arsenal can create opportunities by patiently building up and waiting for space to appear or cause turnovers by pinning teams back.

Maybe Rice was always this good at West Ham and we are now just paying more attention because he’s at the forefront of a team battling for major honours. The Hammers fans seemed to think so, as they first booed the Englishman at the London Stadium then applauded him off as his strike capped off a 6-0 win. 

He hasn’t merely adapted to Arsenal, he has thrived and become the new driving force of the club. Granit Xhaka’s influential presence hasn’t been missed as Rice has taken up the mantle. 

There may be question marks as to why so much was spent on replacing Aaron Ramsey with David Raya and Kai Havertz’s mould-breaking, expensive wage packet. To the point where Arsenal had to tread carefully in the January transfer window for FFP’s sake as they weighed up making a move for a striker. 

No one, however, will be questioning their successful pursuit of Rice. As Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips have secured loan moves to try get themselves in contention for a place at the Euros, the discussion will be about who pairs Rice rather than whether anyone replaces him in England’s midfield.

For both club and country this season is cementing Rice as one of the world’s top midfielders. 


(Images from IMAGO)


You can follow every Arsenal game live with FotMob — featuring deep stats coverage including shot maps, xG, and player ratings. Download the free app here.

Declan Rice: How the summer’s best signing is powering Arsenal’s title challenge

It’s encouraging from an England standpoint that the three blockbuster transfers in the summer are proving to be pivotal for their respective teams. There were hefty price tags and much anticipation on the shoulders of Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and Declan Rice. 

All three have surpassed expectations and you couldn’t envisage Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Arsenal without them. 


By Dharnish Iqbal


A tug of war ensued between Man City and Arsenal for the signature of Rice, the former West Ham midfielder, as he eventually landed at Arsenal when the Gunners hit the £100m mark. 

The biggest compliment you could perhaps give Rice is that nobody is talking about that price tag now, as he has exploded since his arrival. The adjustment to signing for one of the elite teams in the Premier League from a club of lesser means is always huge. 

Look at the time it took for Jack Grealish to come to the fore at Man City. Kalvin Phillips could never find minutes after his move and has only recently looked for a move elsewhere in a bid to retain his England place – ironically, in Rice’s old position at West Ham. 

Rice has swiftly taken like a duck to water to the Gunners adjusted tactics. They didn’t sustain attacks like this last season, the football was more explosive. 

They still spring to life in attack but they pass teams to death, waiting for the right moment to strike and Rice is essential to this. Arteta summed it up perfectly after the win over Manchester United – “He was very dominant, in those big games, you need that – a player that grabs the game and understands when to add speed, when to break it down and when to control the game.”

He’s been the instant impact signing that marshals the midfield and grabs games by the scruff of the neck. A modern-day Patrick Vieira. The control of a game rests on Rice’s shoulders, the player responsible for setting the tempo. Taking the sting out of games when needed and calmly receiving from defence to pick out a pass.  

He’s played predominantly in a midfield two in-possession this season next to an inverted full-back, but you wonder what the setup would be if Jurrien Timber or Thomas Partey were fit. 

His stats showcase how involved he is in Arsenal’s build-up with 64 successful passes and 91% pass accuracy per 90. Whilst also averaging 83 touches per game, puts him in the top 90% for these three categories. 

The amount of big game performances and stand-out moments he has produced stick out. Vital last-minute winners at Luton and Manchester United. Arsenal didn’t sign him for his ability to chip in with goals from midfield but he’s in the 78% percentile for players in his position in terms of scoring.

A commanding, assured midfield performance at home to City making vital interceptions, challenges, and blocks to ignite the home crowd.

As well as being the controller when Arsenal have the ball he can break play up when opponents attack, averaging 1.43 interceptions per game. 

In certain games this season like Brighton at home, or the two Liverpool fixtures, out of possession Arsenal have fiercely pressed teams high up the pitch and not allowed them to breathe. Rice has been excellent in pushing up and tracking an attacking midfielder so when he receives the ball, Rice’s anticipation means he is just behind them not allowing the opposition to move.

Arsenal can create opportunities by patiently building up and waiting for space to appear or cause turnovers by pinning teams back.

Maybe Rice was always this good at West Ham and we are now just paying more attention because he’s at the forefront of a team battling for major honours. The Hammers fans seemed to think so, as they first booed the Englishman at the London Stadium then applauded him off as his strike capped off a 6-0 win. 

He hasn’t merely adapted to Arsenal, he has thrived and become the new driving force of the club. Granit Xhaka’s influential presence hasn’t been missed as Rice has taken up the mantle. 

There may be question marks as to why so much was spent on replacing Aaron Ramsey with David Raya and Kai Havertz’s mould-breaking, expensive wage packet. To the point where Arsenal had to tread carefully in the January transfer window for FFP’s sake as they weighed up making a move for a striker. 

No one, however, will be questioning their successful pursuit of Rice. As Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips have secured loan moves to try get themselves in contention for a place at the Euros, the discussion will be about who pairs Rice rather than whether anyone replaces him in England’s midfield.

For both club and country this season is cementing Rice as one of the world’s top midfielders. 


(Images from IMAGO)


You can follow every Arsenal game live with FotMob — featuring deep stats coverage including shot maps, xG, and player ratings. Download the free app here.