Arsenal are currently enjoying a great moment of form and are sitting pretty six points clear at the top of the Premier League.
The Gunners have been brilliant under Mikel Arteta in all aspects of their play.
At present, they have let in the joint lowest amount of goals (14) with Liverpool and yet their forward play has been as swashbuckling as Pep Guardiola’s Man City at its best.
Every man has played his part, both on an off the pitch, though former professional turned pundit, Stan Collymore, reserved his praise for one player in particular. A player who has been the difference maker for the Gunners so far this season.
“Declan Rice has stood up and been counted. He’s not officially the captain of Arsenal, but he is a captain that leads by example. The clean sheets, the fewest goals conceded, the last minute winners… they’re all in Declan Rice’s remit and, for me, he’s been the most compelling summer signing,” he said in his exclusive column for CaughtOffside.
“Bear in mind he cost over £100m and he’s English – that comes with huge pressure, and yet he smiles, laughs and jokes, and he enjoys playing his football.
“We’ve barely talked about his price tag, but we do with Jack Grealish because he arguably isn’t living up to it at Manchester City.
“It seems to be water off a duck’s back to Declan Rice and he’s seamlessly knitted into Arsenal’s midfield as well as helping England to the Euros. Nothing has fazed him.
“Pound for pound he’s been the best Premier League buy last summer and I think that it’s inevitable he someday becomes captain.
“I know that Odegaard is very much liked at the club and by Mikel Arteta, but I do wonder if there was a minor little shift, whether Arteta has a rethink. Watch this space…”
It’s hard to disagree with Collymore’s viewpoint.
Whilst Rice will have rightly grabbed the headlines for the late winners at Luton and against Man United, as well as his spectacular long-range effort at Chelsea, his all-round game has been about much more than that.
He’s been the fulcrum of the side and the player that has been the conduit between defence and attack.
Declan Rice gives Arsenal something that they were lacking last season, and it could yet be the difference between them getting over the line or not for a first Premier League title in 20 years.