Paul Merson lauds Declan Rice for elevating Arsenal

By on March 7, 2024

Arsenal 6:0 Sheffield

On Sky Sports, Paul Merson claims that Arsenal’s £105 million swoop for Declan Rice is one of the reasons they are better than they were last season.

With only one win, one draw, and three league losses in the festive period fixtures, some argued that the Gunners had no chance of winning the league. However, the North Londoners’ fortunes have changed dramatically in recent weeks.

Arsenal’s passion, determination, and hunger for the league have been evident since the winter break. They have ruthlessly dispatched any opponent thrown their way; in just seven games, the team has scored 31 goals in a 7-game winning streak, which is remarkable.

Of course, most Gunners have stepped up for this rise in form, but Merson identifies Declan Rice as one of the secrets to Arsenal’s recent success.

Rice took Arsenal to the next level

Rice has undoubtedly elevated the Arsenal team to new heights. He may have been brought in to shore up Arsenal’s defensive midfield as an alternative for the injury-prone Partey, but he’s done more.

Taking advantage of his exceptional technical ability, the 25-year-old has made significant contributions to Arsenal’s attacking play. He is now not just a source for goals but also a creator of them, as Rice has recently been on set pieces for Arsenal.

In 27 league games, the ex-Hammer has 5 goals and 5 assists, his best league stats since breaking into the scene. For the remainder of the season, the Gooners should hope Rice continues to rise; he could lead them to league glory.

Merson certainly thinks Rice has had a hugely positive impact since arriving at the Emirates, saying he’s taken the club to ‘another level’.

“They are so different to last season because Declan Rice has taken them to another level,” said Merson.

“He’s up there with Rodri, and that’s why Man City and Arsenal have great defenses. They are so disciplined, it’s unbelievable.”

That said, in addition to recognising Rice’s contribution, the Arsenal legend also spoke of Arsenal’s strong position in the title race. He cites their improved goal difference over the last seven games as a significant boost.

He acknowledges that his former club is on a roll, but believes the game versus City on March 31st will show how far they’ve come. However, he believes that given their current situation, games like those against Manchester City should be won.

“They’ve taken their goal difference to another level in the last few weeks, though. They were behind, and now they’ve almost got an extra point with it. That could be massive,” added Merson.

“However, the acid test is going to be at Man City on March 31. We’ll see how far Arsenal have come then.

“But you’ve got to keep on winning these games to make sure you get there, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Arsenal are in a strong position in the title chase, with 61 points, two behind league leaders Liverpool. They simply need to play each game as a final, winning one at a time and capitalising on their key opponents, Manchester City and Liverpool, dropping points.

Arteta and his side will face Brentford on Saturday evening; hopefully that’s another 3 points in the bag.

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