Declan Rice, Arsenal’s record signing, was hailed by his manager Mikel Arteta after scoring a vital goal in the 3-1 win over Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Rice, who moved to Arsenal from West Ham for a whopping £105m in the summer, found the back of the net in the 88th minute, after Martin Odegaard had equalised Marcus Rashford’s early strike. Gabriel Jesus then scored a third goal in injury time to secure a stunning victory for Arsenal, who extended their lead over United to four points at the top of the Premier League table.
Arteta was impressed with Rice’s display, as well as the rest of his team, who showed courage and commitment to beat a formidable opponent.
“He was outstanding,” Arteta told Sky Sports. “But the whole team was as well. Rice gave us momentum when we needed it. It is a beautiful thing how these turn around and we won the game.”
Arteta also backed his decision to play Rice alongside Odegaard and Kai Havertz, another expensive signing from Chelsea, in a new midfield formation. The trio had difficulties to control the game against United’s midfield of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Fred, but Arteta insisted that they will get better with more time and experience together.
As soon as they play 55 times together, they will be better, Arteta said. They will be more dominant and better able to understand each other. ” They need time to glide.”
Arteta also praised the performance of Jurrien Timber, the young right-back who joined Arsenal from Ajax for £25m. Timber showed his defensive and attacking skills, often joining the midfield to support Rice and co.
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“We are extremely satisfied with Jurrien’s performance and what he did,” Arteta said. There is no doubt that he is adapting really quickly to the team, and you can see the confidence and determination he plays with.
The Arsenal boss admitted that the game could have gone either way, as United had a late goal ruled out for offside and also hit the post through Rashford. However, he applauded his team’s spirit and character to fight until the end and clinch a crucial win.
Arteta also thanked the Arsenal fans
“We work and do everything we do every day for moments like this. It’s about the small margins at the top level of sport. It could have gone either way,” Arteta said.
“I am really happy obviously. Despite their great coaching, they make life difficult for you. You are always up against it in the Premier League when you give the goal away that we did.”
Arteta also thanked the Arsenal fans for their incredible support at the Emirates Stadium, where 60,000 fans witnessed a thrilling clash between two title contenders.
My favorite part of playing at home is the atmosphere created by the fans. My heart is full of joy after coming behind,” Arteta said.
“It’s a wonderful feeling. We play for this purpose. Giving them something back and how they support us is amazing.”
Arsenal will now go into the international break with 10 points from their first four games, while United will look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season when they face Liverpool at Old Trafford on September 17th.