Why Declan Rice would make Arsenal title challengers again next season – Just Arsenal News
Why Declan Rice would make Arsenal title challengers again next season
After a long arduous battle with Manchester City that went to the wire, Arsenal painfully fell just short in their bid to claim their first Premier League title for 19 years. Despite an amazing season for the Gunners, Mikel Arteta’s side were left empty handed come the end of the domestic campaign, as the Manchester clubs swept all the major honours on offer. The manner of the club’s faltering finish has been a bitter pill to swallow for Arsenal fans after the North London side sat atop the table for 248 days this season; the longest spell for a side to have not won the title.
The expectation now from pundits and fans alike is that Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United will all significantly improve on last season’s performance, which has some speculating that the Gunners have missed a golden chance to knock City off their perch, and to some extent, they’re right. However, the idea that Arsenal won’t challenge for the title again next year as a result couldn’t be further from the truth. Remember it wasn’t that long ago that people were writing the North London club off, suspecting the best the Gunners could manage was a fifth place finish.
If it weren’t for a few untimely injuries in key positions there’s a very good chance we would’ve seen open top buses and parades through the streets of Highbury & Islington. Arsenal’s young squad is brimming with potential but now they are bolstered with the invaluable experience of a genuine title race.
They are just a few key signings away from becoming a consistent foil to Guardiola’s indomitable Blues. Should Arteta and the board stay on track with their incredible recruitment of the last few windows, there’s no reason to believe they can’t challenge in 2023/24. and top of the priority list this summer is Declan Rice, and rightfully so.
Having led West Ham United to their first major trophy in 43 years and ending the Irons’ long wait for European glory, Rice now has his sights set on a move elsewhere. It has been no secret that the England international has intentions to test his mettle amongst Europe’s elite in the Champions League next season and he has been looking for a club that could facilitate that ambition. The 24-year-old undeniably has a soft spot for his current club, heaping praise on the fans, the players and David Moyes time and time again, but realistically he possesses talents above their station.
The England international has proven he is more than capable of playing at a ‘big six’ club and given what we’ve seen of him so far, it would be criminal if he ended his career without a significant collection of silverware. Arsenal have been the frontrunners to sign Rice for months now after they effectively secured a top four spot all the way back in March to bring Champions League football back to Emirates for the first time since 2017. New bookies have Arsenal as favourites to sign the midfielder at 4/11 and the Gunners’ return to Europe’s elite football competition paired with Rice’s preference to remain in London only improve their chances.
As much as it seems like a case of right place, right time, it’s more than that; Rice is exactly the type of midfielder Arteta is in desperate need of. His off the ball workrate is second to none. He made 79 tackles this season and he made more interceptions than anyone else in the league with 63, 7 more than his closest contender Moises Caicedo.
Better still is his ability to recycle the ball. Rice can certainly thread a dangerous ball or two and after completing 2,093 passes in the league last season he would be an extremely valuable asset in and around the box for Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus to run off of. He has been criticised at times this season for not possessing enough attacking flair and failing to deliver on the goals front, but to some extent that aspect of his game has been stifled by the way West Ham set up, with the East End club often utilizing his defensive capabilities instead.
While his attacking opportunities have been limited this year he is still capable of finishing in front of goal and arguably has more creativity going forward than Granit Xhaka has had during his tenure at the Emirates. He is also a more reliable defender than Thomas Partey at times.
The Hammers may have conceded 55 goals this year but by no means is that on Rice. The midfielder has the knack off snuffing out attacks before they even begin, which in Arsenal’s case would help their full-backs get forward more, safe in the knowledge that Rice can effectively cover their positions and stamp out any counter-attacks. He provides a whole host of new possibilities for Arteta to explore and also adds some much needed depth to Arsenal’s engine room.
Granted Arsenal cannot afford to rest on their laurels in the transfer market this summer; they will need to bring in more than just Rice to challenge but he is by far the most important signing the club could make this window.
The fact that City are lining up a bid of their own for the highly sought after midfielder pays compliment to just how good he is and shows the importance of attaining the services of the England international for next season.
Injuries to William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu left the Gunners short in defence and while Arteta could do with strengthening his options there, the signing of Rice would help solve a significant portion of those problems by ensuring the back four faced fewer attacks over the course of a match. He would also serve as a more than suitable replacement to Xhaka in central midfield.
He would undoubtedly improve every aspect of Arsenal’s play in either an attacking or defensive midfield role and with the club finishing just five points behind City there is more than enough reason to believe that with him on board Arsenal will close that small gap.