Mikel Arteta explains Declan Rice centre-back experiment

PSV v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League
PSV v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Arsenal played their final fixture of the Champions League group stages against PSV at the Philips Stadium. The game ended with the two sides sharing the spoils.

While the outcome had no impact on the visiting team, having already secured qualification for the round of 16 as group winners, it provided Mikel Arteta the chance to experiment with his squad. Arteta seized this opportunity by experimenting with the deployment of record-signing Declan Rice. The 24-year-old midfielder took on a centre-back role, filling in for William Saliba.

Mikel Arteta explains Declan Rice centre-back experiment

With half an hour left on the clock, the English international impressed yet again with his abilities. Rice was key in helping the Gunners maintain their defensive structure. 

He concluded the match with an impressive pass accuracy of 97%, successfully completing 56 out of 58 passes. His precise passing proved instrumental in facilitating the north London side's progression from the back.

When asked about the experiment in the post-match interview, Arteta said: “We are very short at the back. I really wanted to try if something happens, how we’re going to resolve that situation. I thought he was really good."

Speaking on whether this experiment could be seen on a more regular basis, the Spanish manager added: “He has played there before. We have to try as if we have an emergency we have to understand and to be sure that we can fill that gap in the right way.”

"He has a lot of composure on the ball, he wins a lot of duels for a player of his size and he has done it in the past. He is a good option."

It's hardly surprising that Rice excelled in the centre-back position given his recent performances and his emergence as one of the world's top defensive midfielders. He showcased his defensive prowess and ball-playing abilities, further affirming his capability to perform effectively in a defensive role.

This allows the Arsenal boss to have another option at the back and as suggested by Arteta, we could see the Englishman featuring as a centre back more often.