'No-one doubted Rice's ability or strength'

Declan Rice

Phil McNulty, chief football writer

A thunderous roar swept around Emirates Stadium before it echoed to the new Declan Rice anthem - a predictably reworded rendition of Vanilla Ice's hit Ice Ice Baby.

Rice took in the acclaim at the final whistle and once more when he appeared for post-match media duties. No-one has doubted the England man's playing ability or mental strength to deal with his huge price tag and greater expectations. This performance and victory provided the proof.

He could barely remove the beam from his face when he said: "Arsenal is a massive club and you feel the pressure but I try to put in performances.

"I am eager to learn and improve and we want to push to the next level. Everyone's been amazing. I like to have a laugh and speak to people and I've settled in well."

Arsenal certainly needed Rice to make the difference here because, for much of this game, they missed the fluency and pace that saw them set the pace for so long last season before that late collapse.

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