EPL

Declan Rice knows Arsenal cannot afford any slip-ups in title race

By Sports Desk March 05, 2024

Declan Rice knows in-form Arsenal cannot afford any slip-ups as they continue to fight with Liverpool and Manchester City in an almighty title tussle.

Having ended 2023 with back-to-back defeats to West Ham and Fulham, the Gunners have responded with a run of seven straight Premier League victories.

The latest came on Monday as shambolic Sheffield United were humbled 6-0 at Bramall Lane, moving Mikel Arteta’s third-placed side back within two points of leaders Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s Reds host fellow title contenders City on Sunday – a match both sides will start bumped down the standings should Arsenal beat Brentford the previous day.

 

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“I think it has been a hell of a comeback since the Christmas period, when we lost two in a row,” big-money summer signing Rice said. “I think there was a lot of talk when we had the winter break.

“We came back and that full week in Dubai was just full focus on Palace and winning that game, getting the momentum back swinging our way.

“Since we have had that game, we have really done that and we are looking really strong, really positive.

“But it is the Premier League, you need to be on it every single game. You can’t have any slip-ups. We are really enjoying and relishing winning football matches.”

Rice and his team-mates have to maintain that focus for 11 more matches, with Arteta suggesting 90 points may be needed to win the Premier League.

“I think if you look at the two other teams at the top, they don’t look like they are going to slip up anytime soon,” the England midfielder said.

“Obviously we were the last to play, so it is always on our mind that we have to win if we want to stay in it.

“There is such a long way to go, anything can happen, 11 games of football is a really long way.

 

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“Hopefully we can keep winning matches, but it is one game at a time.

“We have been in this position before and I think it is just stay humble. Wait for the games to come and attack them when the day arrives.”

Those comments underline the cutting edge, maturity and swagger about Arsenal, which saw them enter the record books at Bramall Lane.

Never before had an English league side won three straight away matches by five goals or more – and there was even talk of a potential record-breaking Premier League win during a stunning first half.

Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz, Gabriel Martinelli and Rice’s efforts were complemented by a Jayden Bogle own goal during Monday’s wild opening period against the beleaguered Blades.

“I think when you come to a team like Sheffield United, who are fighting for their lives, it can always be a sticky game,” Rice said.

“But it is about mindset, it is about mentality, body language, pushing each other and straight from the first whistle it was on our mind.

“The manager has been on at us all week, that we have to go out and give it absolutely everything to get three points. It was a beautiful first half.”

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