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The evolution of Rice's game

Declan Rice stats graphic, comparing his stats from last season to this season per 90 minutes. 81.8 touches v 71.3; Touches in opposition box 1.4 v 0.7; Possession won 5 v 0.2
Declan Rice stats graphic, comparing his stats from last season to this season per 90 minutes. 81.8 touches v 71.3; Touches in opposition box 1.4 v 0.7; Possession won 5 v 0.2

Declan Rice is having more touches in central attacking positions compared with last term, aided by playing in a better team - and in a more attacking role. West Ham finished 14th last season with a goal difference of -13.

Arsenal have an average possession of 62% this season, while West Ham never managed 50% in a season with Rice.

As a result of all this, Rice is scoring more goals and assisting more for his team-mates than ever before.

His six Premier League goals and five assists are already higher than he managed in any campaign for West Ham.

Of Arsenal's midfield positions, Rice said: "Mikel [Arteta] wants his number six and number eight to play completely differently. When I've played eight, I have been the highest on the pitch sometimes which is strange to me. I have said that I think six is my best position."

Many of Rice's defensive statistics - like possession won and interceptions - were higher last season. And his attacking ones, such as shots and touches in the opposition box, are higher this campaign.

His contribution has grown as the season has gone on too, taking only three corners in the first 20 games - before becoming one of their set-piece specialists.

"You look at Rodri at [Manchester] City who is probably the best, and he is always in the middle of the pitch linking the back and the front players," Rice added. "The more I've played under Mikel, I have got better every time."

England boss Gareth Southgate, who named Rice as captain and handed him a 50th Three Lions cap for Tuesday's friendly with Belgium, said: "It's brilliant for him. We know he's a brilliant finisher.

"We know he can play it in a more advanced role. He's improved so much in that role and is working so much with his club."

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