Football News

Arsenal urged to make Declan Rice captain: “He has something different”

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:30, 6 February 2024

Emmanuel Petit believes Declan Rice should be made Arsenal captain.

Petit’s words came after Mikel Arteta’s men produced a 3-1 win over Premier League title rival Liverpool at home.

Heading into the showdown, Arsenal were five points behind Jurgen Klopp’s side, knowing defeat would make this season’s challenge more difficult, if not all but ending it.

Petit, who graced the Gunners midfield during an illustrious three-year spell, feels this latest success was achieved in the middle third, and Rice should inherit the armband.

“Arsenal won the game because of the midfield,” Petit told

“It was the key to the performance and they dominated the midfield physically, technically and tactically. Jorginho and Rice were both absolutely brilliant. What is there left to say about Declan Rice? He should be Arsenal captain for me. He has such a brilliant character and he is a leader. He has something different to the rest of the players and is so influential in big games.”

Since breaking through at boyhood club West Ham and establishing himself in the Premier League, subsequently earning a regular berth under Gareth Southgate for the English national team, Rice had been tipped for a ‘big-six’ move.

At various stages, both Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea, were linked, but last summer, Arsenal — who paid £100m for his services — won the race. The 24-year-old, during his final West Ham season, was the only player in Europe’s top five leagues to hit 30+ for the following metrics – interceptions, clearances, successful take-ons, chances created, aerial duels won and shots.

He’s not been the same in his new surroundings. Rice is no longer a pure ball-winner but a deep-lying midfielder, and that can be put down to Arsenal spending less time out of possession than West Ham, which is, for some, a natural evolution.

“I’m trying to nail down being an out-and-out six, and I think the manager sees that as well, but he knows that I’m adaptable,” he recently said.

“I even played centre-back in a Champions League game. I’m happy to play anywhere if it helps the team out, but I’ve just been trying to learn and get myself better at playing in the six.

“That will be me for the rest of my career until late 30s probably. I might drop back to centre-back then!”

The position Rice speaks of is a fundamental role in the modern game. Whoever plays at six must strike the right equilibrium between offence and defence. Further duties include being primarily involved in the initial build-up of attacks and being tasked with retaining and recycling possession, stationed just in front of the backline.

“His behaviour was a bit strange”

Jamie Carragher criticised current skipper Martin Odegaard for his post-match celebrations, where he stepped in as a match photographer.

Carragher’s response drew backlash, with legendary Arsenal striker Ian Wright coming to Odegaard’s defence.

“The negativity towards my manager, man, what has he done apart from celebrating a goal and celebrating his team?” he began in a minute-and-a-half-long video posted on X, formerly Twitter.

“Celebrating a team that is trying to beat these juggernauts, Liverpool and Manchester City. And because he’s celebrating? Because Martin Odegaard is taking a picture with Stuart the photographer? A lifelong Gunner. This man has been supporting Arsenal since he was five or something ridiculous like that.

“Just taking a picture in front of the north bank, what’s wrong with the captain doing that? It’s got nothing to do with the fact that we’ve just beaten Liverpool, that’s just an opportunity. Why is everybody trying to kill the joy? Don’t kill the joy. There’s so much of the season to go.”

However, Petit agreed with the former Liverpool defender.

“I agree with what Jamie Carragher said after the game.,” he explained. “I really like Martin Ødegaard but his behavior after the game was a bit strange. You’ve just won a game, it’s just three points. Calm down. I understand why they were so happy after a big win and a great performance but you have to be careful. There’s still 15 games to go and they were acting like they won the league yesterday.”