Monday, April 22, 2024

Rice “getting excited” by assists while White relishes dirty work

Declan Rice says goals and assists have become a “big thing” for him since moving to Arsenal and he has targets on both fronts for the rest of the season.

The England international has found the net four times so far in the Premier League, making dramatic late interventions to win games against Manchester United and Luton and finding the net from long-range away at Chelsea and his former club West Ham.

Promoted to corner-taking duty in recent weeks, he’s also beaten his personal best tally for assists in a single campaign. Four in the last six matches for Mikel Arteta’s free-scoring Gunners have made it five in total for the 25-year-old with 12 games to go.

Speaking at the London Football Awards where he was crowned 23/24 Player of the Year, Rice revealed the move from set piece target to taker has been in the offing for a while.

“We had actually been having conversations about it with Nico [Jover], the set-piece coach, since the start of the season,” he told ESPN.

“Obviously because of my height, he’s wanted me in the box. I just feel like he wanted a switch-up. If I hadn’t got the [first corner] assist [against Palace], I don’t think anyone would have been talking about it.

“Obviously I’ve been putting in good deliveries near the middle and back post in games.

“I get excited by getting assists now. It is a big thing for me. Whereas before, goals and assists weren’t really my thing.

“But now I like getting assists, getting goals and I feel it gives me that extra energy on the pitch. I’m striving, I’ve got targets between the end of the season, what I want to hit.”

While Arsenal’s physically imposing centre-backs, Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba, are often the target of Rice’s in-swinging corners and free-kicks, everyone in the team has a role to play in distracting and blocking opponents when the ball is played.

The attention to detail has been a recipe for success with the Gunners netting the most set-piece goals and the most headers in the Premier League this season.

Central to the dirty work – often unseen by the officials but enjoyed over and over by Gunners supporters in post-game video clips – is Ben White. Unofficially appointed chief mischief maker by Mikel Arteta, the defender loves the responsibility whether he’s attacking or defending.

“There is all sorts [going on],” White told ESPN this week. “Standing on your feet, elbows. It’s OK. I just have to stand in the way and see what happens.”

He also revealed he’ll do whatever it takes to stop opponents, especially if he’s been briefed from above about potential tactics being employed by the opposition.

Reflecting on Arsenal’s recent 4-1 win over Newcastle and his decision to wipe out Anthony Gordon off the ball, he said: “If I don’t do that, they will probably score.

“It comes back to doing anything to win. I know I am not going to stop everyone and I know I am not the best one-v-one defender, but I can do things to help the team in game situations against their winger.

“Before the game we have instructions of what processes they have to be able to hurt us and he was one of them.

“My job was to stop him [Gordon] rolling inside, so I had to get as tight as possible, otherwise foul him. He’s going inside if not.”

So there we go, Arsenal are cooking and the White-Rice combo is a key ingredient.

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Arteta Tots

Love the nasty side of Blanco to be honest

Henkamp

He is the kind of person you don’t want to be nasty (if you are his opponent)! Calm, quiet, unassuming, and almost shy! People who have these traits and relish being nasty, almost never get caught, plus they are so badass at it.

C.B.

Good to have class players up front, with lots of options, combined with players at the back doing whatever is needed to shut out the opposition. In some seasons we haven’t had either!

allezkev

The media seem to have an obsession with what we’re doing at free kicks and corners but look at the opposition, they’re at it as well, but that’s ignored.

Henkamp

Haven’t you heard? A big six team shouldn’t be scoring that many amount of goals from set-pieces. Are you Stoke City?

That’s the stup*d narrative being peddled on social media, especially by jealous Liverpool fans. I guess it’s the same reason pundits and the media are very vested in our routines as well.

Only one Dennis Bergkamp

And the same chaps will also talk about how we try and walk the ball into the net all the time. There’s really no pleasing some people!

GLB

They will always find a reason, even if that reason is at odds with any of the previous reasons.

Celebration Police

You have to say Ben White is the most deceptive person you’ll probably ever met. I love the Chief Mischief title. He winds up the opponent, but he’s so quiet. He doesn’t say much, but stirs up so much. His interviews are like I don’t want to talk to you. Doesn’t give much away. Even when you rough him up, he doesn’t complain. He’s a nightmare of an opponent. Thank God he’s playing for us. I wouldn’t want to play against him. You have to credit the coaching team for getting that out of him. White and Rice serve us… Read more »

Ukesox

It seems a recent & welcome trend that the first team regulars have become far more “robust” in their challenges. No longer the soft touch of old. Porto had clearly identified this & exploited it by excessive theatrics whenever they were challenged on the ball & in the the last Prem game it was 15 Arsenal to 6 Newcastle fouls, a complete reversal of what you’d expect.

nanogunner

Bought this season jersey with White-Rice on the back. Wish the store allows 414 number.

I miss santi cazorla

My staple food..
White rice

Ödegårds Magnifika Fot

There is a restaurant called “White Rice” near where I live. Got a new meaning after this article xD

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