Arsenal's Declan Rice starting to prove big critic wrong as pattern emerges from Luton win


Arsenal summer signing Declan Rice is starting to prove Liverpool legend Graeme Souness wrong after just 22 matches in north London. The England international was criticised upon his arrival at the Emirates Stadium for not having the skillset to contribute in the final third, though his goal in midweek against Luton Town certainly proved otherwise.

The Gunners forked out £105million to secure the services of Rice from West Ham over the summer, with Mikel Arteta identifying the midfielder as his top target before the window even opened. The 24-year-old is viewed as a future captain by the higher powers at Arsenal and a player who can lead the team to victory in both the short and long term.

However, with his immense price tag in mind, some critics emerged with questions about whether Rice was truly capable of justifying such a mammoth fee. Souness was among those doubters, telling the Daily Mail: “This midfield role is a vital part of any team because in an ideal world, it’s multi-dimensional – you are creative, you chip in with goals and you’ve got a defensive head at all times, if you’ve got all three of those attributes, you’re worth your weight in gold. For me, Rice has just one of them.

"I think he should get more goals. He averages two goals a season and two assists a season, that's not enough. He's joined a very good team, a great football club, I would expect, if I was managing him, for him to chip in with more goals and be more creative."

Despite only being at the Emirates for a matter of months, Rice is already proving that his ability is not just limited to playing in a defensive-minded role. The former Hammers skipper already has three goals to his name in the Premier League, registering one assist as well, putting him on course to register his highest-scoring season since breaking into the West Ham first-team.

Rice’s goals have all come at crucial times for Arsenal too, in moments when his side have looked like they were set to drop points. The midfielder’s first goal for the club came in the 96th minute against Manchester United when he gave the Gunners the lead in their 3-1 win earlier in the season before providing Arsenal with hope against Chelsea when halving his side’s deficit in their 2-2 draw - with Leandro Trossard bagging the crucial equaliser.

Though Rice’s most pivotal moment to date came in midweek when he scored the winner in Arsenal’s 4-3 win over Luton, rising highest at the back post to power his header past Thomas Kaminski in the 97th minute. The victory was a moment that highlighted that the Gunners were truly title contenders once again, despite the relegation-battling opposition, and showcased that Rice is a player for the big occasions.

The midfielder will only improve further and, as a result, should continue adding to his goal tally as the season continues, with his driving runs from deep proving to Souness that he is capable of making an impact at both ends of the pitch. And if the No 41 can guide Arsenal to a title-winning campaign then very few can question why Arteta was so willing to green-light such a pricey signing given his knack for scoring important goals.

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