Is Declan Rice going to play a more defensive role with Arsenal?

Declan Rice joined Arsenal a few weeks ago and has only been a Gunner for a short while, but even so, banter about him can’t seem to stop. But how could it stop? Considering that to be signed, the Gunners had to part with £105 million, a figure not many would have believed the club could openly pay until a year or so ago.

Many have been quick to analyse which role the Englishman could play for Arsenal. For weeks, it was believed he would be given an attacking midfielder role — specifically, a No. 8 role. In pre-season, even the Community Shield was tried out in that role.

However, in the 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest in the PL opener, the ex-West Ham star played the No. 6 role, in which he excelled. By now, Gooners may be confused about where we should expect to see Rice play more this season. Well, Gabby Agbonlahor, speaking about Rice at Arsenal, has claimed that he could be groomed as Arsenal’s No. 6 this season and could be limited to doing the defensive duties of the Arsenal midfield.

Gabby said on talkSPORT, “I think Declan Rice is going to have a key role, but more [in] breaking up the play, maybe not allowed to go forward as much in certain games. Especially as Thomas Partey has injury problems. A great signing.”

Such a role would not allow Rice to effectively use his attacking side of the game, which may make it hard for his impact to be seen.

However, Gabby adds that, contrary to what many expect, Rice won’t be the one to win Arsenal games, as he feels Saka, Martinelli, Nketiah, and Jesus’ goals would ne the decisive ones: “Listen, Declan Rice is an outstanding player [and] he will help that Arsenal side a lot. But I think that Arsenal are going to be helped out by the goals of [Bukayo] Saka, [Gabriel] Martinelli, Gabriel Jesus, and [Eddie] Nketiah.”

Without scoring goals and producing assists week in and week out, will Rice’s impact at Arsenal be so well appreciated?

Darren N

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  1. I thought he was some kind of DM. Then he shall play in that position. Trying to make DR become some kind of new Xhaka wont work. Granit Xhaka is guaranteed much better as Xhaka than Dec Rice ever will be. What the XXX did they buy him for if they are trying to change him to something he isn’t? Just big waste of money. It is as stupid as playing Starboy left wingback.

  2. I think any fan who has been watching Arsenal in the last few seasons knows that Arteta appreciates versatility in his players. To that extent, I don’t think it matters much where Rice plays, as long as he helps the team achieve the ultimate objective of winning matches and playing good football. I personally believe that Rice can do well as a six or eight,depending on the opponent of the day,because he has the capability – I can see Arteta using him in both positions throughout the season.

    “…which may make it hard for his impact to be seen” . This is a comment that would be made by a football fan who doesn’t appreciate and/or understand the importance of the defensive aspects of the game. There is a reason why defensive players have been going for premium money. A player like Casemiro went for over £60m despite being over 30. We’ve seen what it cost to sign Caicedo,Tchouameni,Lavia etc. Breaking of play to stop a counter attack is just as important as scoring a goal.Scoring goals wasn’t a big problem for us last season. Our main issue was conceding goals,particularly from counterattacks/transition plays-that is where Dec’s impact can be felt. He made the most interceptions by any player in Europe – this is going to be massive for us. I remember him stopping Bernado Silva in the Community Shield in one such transition play.

    “Rice won’t be the one to win Arsenal games”. There’s one of those popular but incorrect statements that goals win you games. As I’ve already stated,defense wins you games just as much as the attack. It won’t matter one bit if Saka and the other attacking players score 1000 goals in a game if we end up conceding 1001. Now if you concede 999,you win the game- Rice helps you with that. Kante helps you with that. Rodri helps you with that. Casemiro helps you with that. There is a time Ngolo Kante was regarded as the best midfielder in the world yet he hardly recorded any goals or assists in that time. Ask yourself why.

    1. Excellent article.A strong defence is the hallmark of great teams, and significantly Man City have yet to concede in their two league matches.Pep has amassed a strong group of centre backs and defensive midfielders, including Stones, and this change in direction from the free flowing unit of 2/3 seasons ago may be less pleasant on the eye, but it is equally effective.With the aquisition of the unfortunate Timber and Kwior, it seems Arteta is trying to replicate the City method, and this is where Rice has a vital role to play as a DM.For Rodri and Stones enter Partey and Rice.Let’s hope our Manager does not try to overcomplicate the tactical side by playing Rice out of position in a more advanced role.

  3. “Without scoring goals and producing assists week in and week out, will Rice’s impact at Arsenal be so well appreciated?”

    Yes, if he can play as Partey does in CDM position. I saw too many backward passes so far, but he could improve his level by training and playing with Partey/ Jorginho

  4. I wish someothers besoides only myself could see and state why thy constantWISE regular posts of Onyango, (just above), elevate this site so very MUCH.

    I look for his posts more than those of any other contributor when searching for interesting topics.

    How right he is about howt op defensive minded players are rarely if ever given the importance they bring to ALL top teams, for the key importance of not conceding unnecessary goals.

    Rice will prove – I have no doubt – of massive benefit to us, esp in THAT context.

    1. Jon before Partey was here almost every fan was calling to sign a top DM for years….so fans know the importance.

      Cant say fans underrate defensive players.

      1. PJ-SA, We willhave to differ then. It IS allowed, after all. But when, I wonder, was the LAST TIME a player of the year in our league or foreign leagues or even world player of the year , was ever a defender|!

        I cant remember and I AM AS OLD AS THE HILLS.

        NO MY FRIEND, NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE RATE top class defenders AND CDM;s nearly enough.
        I put forward the hallowed name of even Arsene Wenger as someone who foolishly ignored, for MANY, years the countless benefits of bringing in a top level type such as Gilberto, or now Rice!

        I do accept your point that many ,even most on here, were actively calling for a proper CDM for years after Gilberto left us.
        It was screamingly obvious to almost everyone, except WENGER.

        No such luck though ,til Arteta came and we NOW have Rice. .When AW left, our whole defence was like a collander, full of holes.
        Its now repaired , PROPERLY. About time too.

        1. Mid table teams do rate their DMs or defenders if they’ve got top quality ones cos they are more exposed to facing attacks from oppositions which they excel most of the time in an attempt to nullify the opposition’s attacks hence becoming a fan favourite.take Declan Rice,caicedo and stones at Everton for immediate examples.

          1. The fact of course is that many managers and fans are aware of the importance of defensive midfielders. However, strikers have always been rated ahead of others because goals actually do win you games!!
            Changes in systems and the dearth of decisive strikers at the highest level have put the spotlight on defensive and central MF in a different way from the recent past. Hence the contemporary premium on high quality MF.

  5. Hope he plays the DM position. That is where he is at his best, so why move him elsewhere.

    Rice is a top top DM with several years proof as evidence. Why change?

    Imagine taking a golden boot winning striker and shuffling him to the wing for “versatility.”

    To me this is Declan Rice. A top shelf DM has no need to move or show versatility when he is one of the best DMs in the world.

    What’s next? How versatile is Saliba? Should he play some RB to increase his versatility?

    Best to not reinvent the wheel when you are having success.

  6. Declan Rice primary responsibilities should be the defensive side of the games.
    His undeniable intelligence defensively makes him the ideal candidate in our defensive third.

    It is the defense that win games, it’s our defense that cost us not lifting the big jug of the last campaign.
    Now if the gaffer didn’t learned this simple and basic fact from the last campaign, our season will be finished before it even get started.

  7. We can’t keep overlooking Leandro Trossard when he’s doing so much for the team. It always surprises me to him listed behind Martinelli and Nketiah, when in actual fact he’s on par with the former and ahead of the latter. At any given time during the season, Trossard will deliver better than Havertz and Nketiah in any role he’s assigned. I can’t say anything n Balogun because he hasn’t been given a chance at all.

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