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Declan Rice is starting to catch the eye for West Ham… an old head on young shoulders

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After a tough start, Declan Rice is starting to catch the eye for West Ham… and find out who has made my Premier League team of the week

  • The first time I saw Declan Rice play he hadn’t mastered his midfield position 
  • Rice has developed so much from the start of the season to where he is now 
  • What I see is an old head on young shoulders and who keeps on impressing
  • He is a similar sort of player to Manchester City central midfielder Fernandinho

Jamie Redknapp for the Daily Mail

The first time I saw Declan Rice play in midfield was at Liverpool on the opening day of the season. West Ham were well beaten and after the game I did not think Rice had it in him to master that position.

He could not handle Liverpool’s movement and was dragged all over the pitch. He has since learned from that game and made the position at the base of midfield his own.

Rice may be just 19 but when I watch him now, I see an old head on young shoulders — a player who is towering in the air and not afraid to be aggressive. Mark Noble was waxing lyrical about him when I spoke to West Ham’s captain recently.

Declan Rice has turned into a top performer for West Ham in the Premier League this season

Declan Rice has turned into a top performer for West Ham in the Premier League this season

His schooling as a centre back gives him that defensive instinct to snuff out danger whenever West Ham do not have the ball.

During West Ham’s brilliant victory over Burnley he won back the ball 12 times, more than any player on the pitch at the London Stadium.

He has become more disciplined in maintaining his central position and when his team are in possession, he drops back between the centre-halves to allow their full backs to attack.

Rice has become an integral part of West Ham's midfield and can run games on his own

Rice has become an integral part of West Ham's midfield and can run games on his own

Rice has become an integral part of West Ham’s midfield and can run games on his own

Rice has all the hallmarks of Fernandinho, the anchorman of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City midfield. 

The Brazilian is still performing at the peak of his powers but given he is 33, City will be on the lookout for a long-term replacement. 

I would not be surprised if Rice is already on their radar, and plays against them in West Ham’s next home game. It will be the biggest test of his fledgling career.

He has the same attitude as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and John Terry — players who put in the hard yards in training and worked tirelessly to keep on improving.

Gareth Southgate should be banging down his door to convince him to play for England rather than the Republic of Ireland and Rice must also decide whether to sign a new deal with West Ham.

When young players burst on to the scene, it is usually creative players such as Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho who catch the eye. Rice’s future will be just as bright and it is vital that he makes the right decisions for his career. 

Rice, who is only 19, shares similar traits to that of Manchester City's Fernandinho

Rice, who is only 19, shares similar traits to that of Manchester City's Fernandinho

Rice, who is only 19, shares similar traits to that of Manchester City’s Fernandinho

What struck me most about Arsenal’s draw against Liverpool was the Emirates atmosphere. The fans were brimming with optimism and it was a ground transformed.

That is all down to Unai Emery. For the last 10 years, their fans have been crying out for grit and determination in their team. Now, Arsenal do not know when they are beaten.

After conceding a second penalty at Wolves, Juan Foyth will have wanted the ground to swallow him up. It may have been a nightmare Spurs debut but he must view it as a learning curve.

He now knows he needs to work on his body position and how he defends one-v-ones. Iron out those mistakes and he will come back stronger.

Callum Wilson continues to impress for Bournemouth and surely must be due an England call

Callum Wilson continues to impress for Bournemouth and surely must be due an England call

Callum Wilson continues to impress for Bournemouth and surely must be due an England call

Whatever you may think about Wayne Rooney’s recall for a farewell England cap, there is another striker who I hope Gareth Southgate calls up when he names his squad on Thursday.

Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson is one of the most in-form English forwards. As our table shows, he has been involved in 10 Premier League goals this season — a figure bettered only by Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling.

Pace is key to whether a player can cut it on the international stage. England proved against Spain that they can hurt good sides on the counter-attack with their blistering speed.

Wilson gives defenders nightmares when he runs at them and is part of a team which plays the sort of attractive, attacking football that Southgate wants. England also lack depth up front. I hope his electric start to the season is rewarded with a first call-up.

Everton fans I know are desperate for Marco Silva to sign a striker in January, but they have a ready-made centre forward in Richarlison. He is strong in the air and has a good blend of pace and physicality. 

Think of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry. They started as wide men before moving into the middle. Richarlison has all the attributes to do the same.

Jamie Redknapp's team of the weekend includes Rice, Raheem Sterling and Alvaro Morata

Jamie Redknapp's team of the weekend includes Rice, Raheem Sterling and Alvaro Morata

Jamie Redknapp’s team of the weekend includes Rice, Raheem Sterling and Alvaro Morata



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Three Hugely Important Takeaways From The Brighton Vs Arsenal Game

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Arsenal were held by Brighton & Hove Albion to a 1-1 draw as they put up a sub-par performance. After the first twenty minutes of the Brighton Vs Arsenal game, the Gunners simply lacked the cutting edge and decisiveness to win the game.

A shambolic performance in the Brighton Vs Arsenal match at the Falmer Stadium allowed Chelsea to gain a two point advantage to be placed fourth in the league table. Currently struggling, Manchester United comfortably won their match against Huddersfield town and have now reduced the deficit to 6 points.

Aubameyang once again initiated the goal scoring for the Gunners as his lovely curling effort gave them a 1-0 lead over the Seagulls. It was a culmination of poor defending and unnecessary panicking from the Brighton defense which allowed Aubameyang to unleash a beautiful curler for the starter.

Arsenal were the dominant force for the first twenty minutes and produced a substantial amount of chances. The ex-Dortmund striker could have had a hat-trick inside the first half, only if he had latched onto the chances and finished clinically. Credit must be given to Matt Ryan for making some great saves to keep his team in the hunt.

After the half hour mark, things started to ease out for the home team as they slowly started to take control of the proceedings of the Brighton Vs Arsenal tie. At the 35th minute, a long ball from Davy Propper found Stephen Lichsteiner, who fumbled a simple heading to gift the ball to Locadia, who found the equalizer for Brighton. Leno had already committed himself forward and it was a regulatory striker finish past the keeper into the net.

The second half saw Arsenal plummet in terms of creativity on the field. They simply could not string together a set of passes for the forwards to shoot at the goal. To sum up, the Brighton Vs Arsenal game was so bad that the Gunners only managed one shot on the target in the second half.

Why Lucas Torreira Is Arsenal’s Unrivalled Best Signing Of The Season

Brighton were stubborn in defense and did not allow the Gunners an inch of space to shoot. The substitutions made by Emery didn’t help the cause further. It was a dampening day at work for the visitors as they were tactically dominated by the mid table team.

With the Anfield trip next on their schedule, Arsenal needed the three vital points from the Brighton Vs Arsenal fixture to ensure they remain in hunt for the top four. After having dropped points here means Arsenal will now need to get a win against Liverpool at Anfield – a much more daunting task.

Here are the three talking points from the Brighton Vs Arsenal match:

1. Arsenal Need To Sort Out Their Defense ASAP

Injuries to defenders has plagued the Arsenal defense. Yet again it was a sub-standard performance by the Arsenal defense.The defenders simply lack application and are committing silly errors in front of the goal in crunch situations.

The transfer window does not open until new year. Once open, Arsenal definitely need to target solid center backs if they want to challenge for the fourth position in the league and the cup competitions.

With the most important fixture coming up before New Year against Liverpool at Anfield, if the defense isn’t sorted out, Leno will be left helpless against a much fierce Liverpool attack. Emery somehow needs to find a solution to the defensive woes.

2.Arsenal Are Over-reliant On Aubameyang For Goals

It was once again Aubameyang who kick-started the goal scoring for the Gunners. He had two more solid chances but was denied by some exquisite goal-keeping of Ryan. Aubameyang is the leading goal-scorer in the Premier League with 13 goals. Arsenal have always relied on him to dish out the goals.

It is high time that the other players stepped up and contributed more to the attack. Lacazette’s substitution during the Brighton Vs Arsenal game for Aaron Ramsey at the hour mark did not help the cause further. Although, he missed two big chances, but by far he was the most significant player on the pitch for Arsenal.

The Gabonese striker regularly made inroads into the shaky Brighton defense. Arsenal need Aubameyang to continue his rich form when they go up against table toppers Liverpool on 29th December at Anfield.

3. The Mesut Ozil Saga Continues Even For The Brighton Vs Arsenal Fixture

Emery substituted Mesut Ozil, the most creative player on the pitch at half time. The result was evident with Arsenal unable to push forward once Ozil was gone. The Gunners lacked the inventiveness once the German was gone.

There were no more risky passes or through balls in the second half of the Brighton Vs Arsenal tie. Aubameyang had no support and Torreira’s off day saw things go from bad to worse. It is evident that there are certain problems between Ozil and Unai Emery but Arsenal need to resolve them expeditiously.

Brighton’s goal in the Brighton Vs Arsenal match was somewhat Ozil’s fault too as he failed to track back in time. This led to him being substituted at the start of the second half.

Given his experience in big matches and the amount of creativity he brings to the team in the absence of a natural right winger, it is imperative that Emery continues to trust Ozil. The team is already bereft of Henrikh Mkhitariyan and hence Ozil should be included in the starting lineup against Liverpool.

Follow Arsedevils for more news and updates on Arsenal.

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Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey backed to make Juventus switch by Andrea Pirlo

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Juventus are currently top of Serie A, which is no surprise considering they’ve won the Italian league title for the past seven campaigns.

Despite their nine-point lead at the summit, manager Massimiliano Allegri is still keen to bolster his squad.

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World Cup winner Pirlo wasn’t surprised to hear of the interest in Ramsey, revealing that he is a fan of the Welsh international.

“Ramsey is a great purchase,” Pirlo said on Sky Sport Italia.

“Juventus are preparing another excellent deal. He is a strong player and could do very well.”

The Bianconeri have made a habit of picking up top players from other European clubs on free transfers, Ramsey could be another, his Arsenal deal expiring in the summer.

Pirlo himself joined the Italian giants after his contract expired at Milan in 2011, showing that his former club have a keen eye for a bargain.

This season Emre Can joined on a free from Liverpool with Dani Alves joining from Barcelona for nothing in 2016.

Sami Khedira is another player who made the switch after seeing his contract expire, and has gone on to play 118 times for Juventus, scoring 20 goals.

Ramsey has been quiet on his Arsenal future this season, but it has been widely reported that Unai Emery and the former Cardiff man have quit talks after failing to agree terms.

Before the season began Emery had been vocal about Ramsey’s place in the Arsenal squad, stating before that that a new contract was on it’s way.

“I’m very happy with him,” said Emery in August.

“For me, every day, every training session, he has the ambition I want.

“He’s working with a quality, the type of ability that I want. I want to work with him.”

The Gunners are currently fifth in the Premier League table with 11 wins from their 19 games.

Emery’s side face a tough trip to Anfield on Saturday as they hope to leapfrog Chelsea into the top four.

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Mo Salah has his say on Kalidou Koulibaly racist abuse

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Liverpool star Mo Salah has waded in on the racist abuse directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. The Senegalese defender was targeted by Inter…

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