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Arrival of £105m Declan Rice Arsenal’s Game-Changer Against Man United

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Arsenal’s decision to splurge £105m Declan Rice Arsenal’s Game-Changer has certainly raised eyebrows, but his performance against Manchester United demonstrated precisely why they made such a hefty investment. While Rice wasn’t primarily signed for his goal-scoring abilities, he seems determined to enhance his offensive contributions, and his stunning display in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United was a testament to that determination.

Arrival of £105m Declan Rice Arsenal's Game-Changer Against Man United

Rice’s first goal in an Arsenal jersey arrived during the sixth minute of added time, with the score level at 1-1. He managed to squeeze a deflected shot past André Onana’s near post, igniting euphoria at Emirates Stadium. The game had been on a knife’s edge after Martin Odegaard canceled out Marcus Rashford’s first-half opener for United. Substitute Alejandro Garnacho was denied a potential winning goal by a marginal VAR review for offside in the 88th minute.

However, it was Rice who decisively tilted the game in Arsenal’s favor. Gabriel Jesus added a third goal even deeper into added-on time, prompting celebrations that resembled those associated with a title run, despite it being only early September. While Arsenal often face criticism for over-celebrating, the context was clear: defeating an old adversary like Manchester United was sweet, but more immediately, Arsenal needed to keep pace with Manchester City. This might seem absurd at first, given that the Premier League season was only four games old.

Last season, Arsenal reached 50 points at the halfway stage but failed to secure the title. Manchester City has set a new standard, leaving Arsenal with a smaller margin for error. Entering the first international break with 10 points out of a possible 12 (just two behind City) is a significant boost to Arsenal’s self-belief.

Declan Rice was signed at great expense from West Ham to bridge this gap, and his all-around performance in this match was match-winning. Could this be the start of many goals from the new midfield maestro?

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s manager, certainly thinks so: “For sure, when you see the technical ability that he has and how he executed in these moments… His range when shooting from accuracy and the power he generates with no space, that’s with both legs, he can do it with both feet. He’s got the timing as well to arrive in the box.”

Rice’s forward drive also led to a penalty shout when Kai Havertz went down in the box, although VAR ultimately overturned it. Arsenal, who usually dominate possession on their home turf, had only 45 percent possession in the first half, reflecting Arteta’s concern about Rashford’s counterattacking threat.

Rice’s statistics speak volumes. He won four of his five duels and all three aerial challenges, recovering the ball five times in total. More significantly, he helped Arsenal play with a higher tempo in the second half, ending with 55 percent possession overall and creating several good chances.

Manchester United will rue the fine margin of Garnacho’s disallowed goal and failing to capitalize on Rasmus Hojlund’s promising cameo, a big-money summer signing. Injuries at center-back have plagued United, forcing them to field Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire in the late stages of the game.

Despite their struggles, Arsenal appears better equipped to challenge City. While they haven’t been entirely convincing this season, they have managed to win three out of four games. In this crucial match, their record-breaking signing, Declan Rice, made all the difference.

As Arteta aptly summarized it, “Big matches are for big players, and Rice was tremendous.”

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