Declan Rice shows what Arsenal have and what Chelsea dont after creating 100m midfielder
A few years ago, Declan Rice said he would have passed. Now, however, the 105m man assumed responsibility, shot and, via a deflection off Jonny Evans, gave Arsenal a 96th-minute lead against Manchester United. As Gabriel Jesus scored an even later goal, it was not technically the winner. But Rice was the scorer of the de facto decider in the sort of match that can define seasons and establish reputations.
Perhaps particularly for central midfielders, given that it is a fixture that evokes memories of Patrick Vieira against Roy Keane. Vieira scored the winning penalty in an FA Cup final shootout against United; Keane scored a disproportionate number of his United goals five, almost 10 percent against Arsenal. Rices first in Arsenal colours came at Uniteds expense. The most expensive Englishman ever can appear something of a throwback player: called a defensive midfielder, but often an all-rounder, in the way the Frenchman and the Irishman were.
His post-match interview was conducted next to Keane who, like Graeme Souness, a similarly dominant and brilliant midfielder and another whose punditry could focus more on personalities than tactics, subscribes to the great man theory of history: as a footballing great himself, he tends to argue that matches are determined by the determination of individuals, by a willingness to seize the moment, by winning a personal battle. It suits him to argue games are won by warriors, not formations involving inverted full-backs or box midfields.