Arsenal were upset after failing to win the Premier League in 2022–23. The Gunners only had one plan in mind, and that was to build a strong team for the 2023–24 season. They had set their eyes on some players, and Mikel Arteta’s side were able to bring in their transfer targets in the summer.
One of them was Declan Rice, for whom Arsenal had to spend over £105 million. Rice straightaway came into the starting 11 and proved to be the difference in the side. The Englishman won the hearts of the fans after scoring the winning goal against Manchester United in Arsenal’s recent encounter. Rated as one of the best signings of the summer, here is a look at some of the stats from the current season that show why Arsenal spent this huge amount on the Englishman.
New midfield commander
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal plays in a 4-3-3 formation. Declan Rice starts in the heart of the midfield three and allows Odegaard and Havertz to make forward runs. The ability of Arsenal defenders to play the ball allows them to cover a lot of areas on the field.
This season, the player has featured in every match and also won the FA Community Shield in his first competitive appearance for the Gunners. Rice scored his first goal for the North London club against the top-four contenders, Manchester United.
Solid defensive displays
Arsenal have yet to lose a match in the 2023–24 campaign. The defence has been a bit leaky, but this is still early in the season for them. Rice has been an asset for the Gunners, as the player possesses the ability to win the ball and break the opposition’s play.
In the current campaign, the player had an 80% win rate when it came to defensive duels. His aerial and loose ball duels win rate is in the 40s. Despite being decent in the air, the player won all three aerial duels contested against Manchester United.
Other than this, the 24-year-old midfielder has made 19 interceptions and 34 recoveries in the first five matches. He has also shown discipline on the field and has only given away two fouls. This assurance in the midfield allows other players to contribute more to the attack.
Building play and end product
Declan Rice has received criticism for making very few contributions to the attack. The player responded with a few decisive goals in the 2022–23 campaign. Rice also has the ability to build plays from the midfield and distribute the ball to the right areas.
The player has an accuracy of 93.7% in the current season. The above viz shows the progressive passes attempted by Rice in the current campaign. These passes have been mostly directed towards the flanks, towards Martinelli and Saka, who are the creative forces in the team.
The 24-year-old has taken advantage of his opportunities to find the back of the net this season. Rice has attempted six shots and has a decent accuracy rate of 66.67%. He found space three times inside the opposition penalty box and converted one against Manchester United.
Declan Rice has shown positive signs in the first five matches. It looks like he has settled well in North London and could prove to be the differential for Arsenal. Arteta will hope that Rice remains fit and plays maximum minutes.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine