Carra and Wright on Rice’s new Arsenal role and why Jorginho is key

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Carra and Wright on Rice’s new Arsenal role and why Jorginho is key

Jamie Carragher and Ian Wright analysed Declan Rice’s new role for Arsenal on Monday Night Football and how Jorginho’s presence in the team has unlocked the £105m midfielder’s all-round ability.

Rice has been able to play further up the pitch for Arsenal since Jorginho has had a sustained run in the team and it is paying dividends for Mikel Arteta, with the 25-year-old scoring three goals in his last five league games.

The former West Ham midfielder is now alongside Martin Odegaard in those more advanced roles, and Carragher explained that this is made possible by Ben White inverting at right-back while Jakub Kiwior holds a more conventional full-back role on the left.

Carragher shows how far high up the pitch Rice is able to play in his new role

Image: Rice is playing right up alongside Odegaard now in Arsenal’s midfield

“I think Declan Rice has shown he is a throwback to an all-rounder,” said Sky Sports pundit Carragher.

“We define the roles of midfielders nowadays as, ‘he’s a holder, he’s an eight, he’s a 10’. He does it all. He can basically do it all in the different roles. Credit to Mikel Arteta as well [for using him there].”

Jorginho's influence on Declan Rice for Arsenal

Image: Jorginho’s influence on Declan Rice for Arsenal

Wright, appearing on Monday Night Football for the first time, added: “I really like Rice in that position. It’s almost like when Tomas Soucek used to be holding at West Ham and Rice was able to push up on that left side.

“Everybody thought it was Kai Havertz that was coming into to play as the No 8, but it’s Declan Rice that Arteta wanted to do that.

“Obviously when Jorginho wasn’t in the side, Declan had to play the No 6 at times and played it very well. But this is obviously what his main strengths are, getting into the box and scoring goals. We know he’s capable of doing it, we saw him doing it at West Ham.”

Asked about the importance of Jorginho, he added: “Thomas Partey and Jorginho would have been playing the No 6, but they weren’t available so Declan had to play there and we couldn’t see this side to his game.

“When you have someone like Jorginho, who can control a game, and then plays it into Martin Odegaard who again can control a game, it gives Declan the capability to make those runs and get into the box and score goals.”

Wright: Ruthless Arsenal won’t slip again

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Arsenal were eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with 10 games to go last season, but managed just four wins as Man City stormed to a third consecutive title.

The Gunners are at the summit again this season at the same stage with only goal difference separating themselves and Liverpool, while City are a point behind.

Arsenal slipped up last season

Image: Arsenal slipped up last season

Wright, though, feels Arteta’s side are better-equipped to cope with the pressure this time around.

“Does this give me any concerns? No, not now,” said the former Arsenal striker. “What’s changed is David Raya, Declan Rice, Kai Havertz – three signings that have made a massive difference.

“You’ve got William Saliba, when he was out of the side last season, it was a massive effect on the whole of our right side.

“The players will take something from what happened last season. People say those [draws] against Liverpool, Southampton and West Ham are the games that cost us and they probably were. I would have taken two wins and a draw at Liverpool out of that.

“The levels of having three draws and it is enough to take you out of the race is what you are dealing with. It is so ruthless. You can’t even draw against Man City with what they are doing and the runs they can put in. Now Arsenal are more ruthless and I’m happy that it looks like they are on track.”

Arsenal's last eight games

Image: Arsenal have won all eight of their league games in 2024

Asked if Arteta should be considered alongside Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp for his work at Arsenal, Wright added: “No. Just leave Mikel to do his thing!

“It’s just been the progression for Mikel. When you look at the team and the contracts the players are signed up to, you can see that this is something that will go on for a few years.

“His time will come, I’m hoping it will be this season, I’m thinking it will be this season.”

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