Why Declan Rice would make Arsenal title challengers again next season

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. 


Tags Declan Rice


    1. I would say yes overrated if West Ham expect 100 million or more for him. Grealish isn’t worth 100 million and neither is Rice.

      Both great players without a doubt, but not worth 100 million great. We could get a DM AND a CM for the fee wanted for Rice. Throwing half the rumored budget for 1 player is too risky.

      They have found great value by scout’s hard work, we can spend that money wisely. Odd how “checkbook manager” doesn’t have the taboo it once did. Criticize Ciry, Chelsea, and Utd, but turn a blind eye when Arsenal do the exact same.

      What happened to “making stars” that we had pride in? Martinelli and Saka seem to be the last of that legacy, especially if Pitano leaves.

      1. Makes a lot of sense and I fully agree with your points. My “overrated” comment was more on Rice’s footballing abilities. Some on here have tried to portray him as a mediocre player.

  1. If Rice was all that – a high impact player who is able to dominate big games – why was West Ham struggling in the relegation zone all season?

    To me, the big test is: would we be better off spending 100M on one player, OR instead, using 100M to sign two quality players (DM plus striker).

    Surely the second option, (two quality players) would be a better fix for the two main concerns listed above: injuries to key players and lack of squad dept.

    Why are we so addicted to plain Rice? To be smart in the transfer market we need to be flexible. The fact that we chased Rice all season is totally irrelevant, of no value whatsoever. If there is better value elsewhere in the transfer window, (Romeo Lavia, for example) it is in our interest to exploit them.

    To hell with overpriced, overrated Rice!!

    1. “To me, the big test is: would we be better off spending 100M on one player, OR instead, using 100M to sign two quality players (DM plus striker). ”
      Completely agree.

  2. “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 ”
    Despite everything you wrote, which was perfectly reasonable for the most part imo (a good case for the signing), I find several things wrong in this last paragraph, though
    1. There’s nothing to suggest he’d improve us as an attacking midfielder, nothing, but i don’t see any reason to think he would play there anyway (maybe I’m misinterpreting).
    2. Nothing is certain – sometimes a better goalscorer up front can lead the team to scoring fewer goals and sometimes a better individual defender can weaken a defensive unit. I suspect rice would improve our team, at least defensively, but i do have may doubts – more importantly, I doubt that he’s the *only* midfielder who could improve us significantly, and of the ones who could, he’s surely the most expensive (though perhaps seen as the lowest risk?)
    3. On paper, City won by five points, but that’s only because the last game was meaningless. If there was antrum anything to play for, they’d have surely won their last game (and we could well have blundered ours) – so in reality the gap was at least 8 points. I don’t think rice would make up that difference, but then, things aren’t ever so linear.

  3. 2nd bid believed to be ~90M rejected. Arsenal should stop this & focus elsewhere instead of dragging until the end.No one player can improve the team. Need 3-4 players. Better spend that 100M on 2 players.

    1. I bet you will be the first to say Arsenal will always fail to see a transfer through after dragging for long.

    1. And if we are willing to pay 100, surely another 10 isn’t a problem: And if we are willing to pay 110, sure another 10 is reasonable? And if we are willing to pay 120….
      How far should it go?

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