Adrian Clarke looks at summer signings and what impact they will have at their new clubs.
Player analysis: Declan Rice (ARS)
It is easy to see why Mikel Arteta was so determined to add Rice to his squad this summer.
Rice is a highly accomplished all-round central midfielder with outstanding leadership qualities and his best years ahead of him.
Out of possession, the 24-year-old will increase Arsenal’s power and ball-winning potential.
And when the Gunners build attacks, his drive and technical quality will also suit their style of play.
No player won possession back for his side more often than Rice during the 2022/23 Premier League season.
Mobile, aggressive and spatially aware, Rice is now a proven ball-winner who is sure to spring a host of extra turnovers for his new club.
Arsenal will press more than West Ham United did, so we may see Rice step forward into higher positions in order to regain possession.
When he does this, Rice’s expertise at stepping in to make interceptions is going to add a new layer to the Gunners’ defensive work.
He has made at least 63 interceptions in three of the last four seasons.
Most possession won and interceptions 22/23
|Declan Rice||334||Declan Rice||63|
|Idrissa Gueye||266||Moises Caicedo||56|
|Kieran Trippier||264||Idrissa Gueye||56|
Most interceptions Rice v Arsenal midfield
|Season||Rice||Arsenal's leading midfielder||Total|
Where will he play?
It is widely expected that Rice will predominantly feature as Arsenal’s defensive midfielder in their 4-3-3 set-up.
This is likely to be the case, but do not be surprised if he is also used as a left-sided box-to-box player.
In their toughest fixtures, this will be more of a consideration.
That dynamic would strengthen Arsenal’s stability out of possession, with Rice able to drop back when necessary to form an orthodox double-pivot in front of the defence.
Arteta has built a side packed with players who are able to move the ball forward with quality.
He demands that his team progress the ball efficiently through the thirds, breaking the lines at every available opportunity.
Rice has become increasingly confident at surging down the middle.
Last season he travelled 4.89km in a progressive direction with the ball.
Most progressive distance carried 22/23
|Player||Progressive carrying distance (metres)|
Rice is also a wonderful passer with an ability to make telling progressive deliveries to team-mates ahead of him.
His place among the division’s very best in these two departments will have been a factor behind Arteta’s decision to pursue him.
Most progressive passes 22/23
|Kevin De Bruyne||246|
Three of Arsenal's central midfield options in 2022/23, Granit Xhaka, Partey and Jorginho, were aged 29 or above.
So Rice’s inclusion in the team will immediately lower the average age of an already youthful side.
He is deceptively quick, registering a top speed of 33.72km/h. And perhaps crucially, Rice also covers a lot more ground in comparison to Arsenal’s midfielders from last season.
Distance covered Rice v Arsenal midfield
|2022/23||Minutes played||Distance covered (km)||Distance covered/90 (km)||Top speed (km/h)|
In an attack-minded team who like to commit a lot of bodies forward, it is important to have a player with great athleticism to provide cover.
When the pace of a match is high-tempo, Rice’s energy will improve Arsenal’s resistance to opposition counters.
Arteta's huge faith in Rice looks justified.