Arsenal emerged victorious from their clash against Luton Town in a thrilling seven-goal encounter.
Declan Rice clinched all three points for the north London outfit with a last-minute header, showcasing his consistent brilliance on the field. Since his £105m transfer to Arsenal in the summer, Rice has not only lived up to the hefty price tag, but surpassed expectations with his outstanding performances.
In a post-match interview with NBC Sports, when asked about how he has settled in so seamlessly despite the pressure of his price tag, Rice said: “I’ve always believed in my ability.”
“When I signed for Arsenal I was fully confident I could come here and, you know, perform at a really high level. But also, it’s about staying level headed, you know, staying focused and not letting your feet get off the ground,” he added.
Declan Rice: Arsenal's new hero at the forefront of title charge
Mentality is a key aspect in any sport and Rice has shown he boasts the champions mentality which is essential for becoming a top player.
Speaking on his team’s mindset during Tuesday's game, he said: “This year there definitely seems to be a different feel around the place in terms of being stern, being steady, being composed in big moments.
“Obviously tonight Luton Town caused us a massive threat and it looked like we was going to drop points. But this season, you know, it’s that never say die attitude that we’ve got; that we keep pushing and fighting to the end,” he added.
“To score at the time, it shows what we’re made of, we’ll never stop believing.”
This shows that Rice has that stubbornness needed and he, like the rest of the team, won’t give up on any game without a proper fight. Before joining Arsenal, he guided West Ham to Europa Conference League glory as captain.
Following Mark Noble’s retirement, Rice took the armband for the 2022/23 season at the age of 23, becoming one of the youngest players to be given the honour. It proved that despite his young age, he had the mindset to be a leader, which is a massive responsibility.
Declan Rice has been one of the Premier League's best players this season
When it comes to Rice’s profile as a player, he has the right qualities that make him suited to the #6 role. In the current Premier League campaign so far, he has a pass accuracy rate of 91%, proving his ability to be a ‘circulator’.
The Englishman’s tall stature is a massive contributor to why he can win duels whether it's aerial or grounded. He also has long strides (while running) and it allows him to cover ground at a rapid rate. He already had 76 ball recoveries this season.
This ability of being able to win the ball and making the right passes accurately is what majorly contributes to Arsenal’s build-up play. These abilities point towards a world class defensive midfielder and that is exactly what Rice proves to be.
In the post-match interview, Arteta was asked if Rice can make a difference this season in regards to a title charge after the Gunners fell short last season. He replied: “He [Rice] is already making a big impact in the team and those moments [last-minute winners] are special.”
“He has this quality, this aura about him to play in those moments and that will give him more confidence,” Arteta added.
While Rice may not be a prolific goal-scorer, he consistently steps up when his team needs him. After every game, I can’t help but wonder what would have been if Rice had joined Manchester City over Arsenal in the summer. Actually, I don't even want to think about it.
Luckily for them, he has made his passion and love for the club clear. “There’s so many things that can happen in football, and I’m very lucky, very privileged to be in this position. I get to play for Arsenal every week and nights like tonight, hopefully, it makes the fans– makes it worth it for everybody.” Rice said on Tuesday night.
Declan Rice stands out as an exceptionally promising prospect in global football, poised on a trajectory that mirrors the illustrious careers of some of the greatest footballers in history.