PSV Eindhoven vs Arsenal: Why did Mikel Arteta play Declan Rice in centre-back position?

Mikel Arteta made plenty of changes for this contest yet the Gunners produced a professional performance to make it tricky for the home side.

Declan Rice in a file photo (Image: Twitter/ Declan Rice)
By Karthik Raman | Dec 13, 2023 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

PSV Eindhoven and Arsenal ended their Champions League group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw. Arsenal had already secured the top spot in their group, hence this game was all about finishing the group phase on a high. Hence, Mikel Arteta made plenty of changes for this contest yet the Gunners produced a professional performance to make it tricky for the home side. In the end, both sides would be content with the result.

One of the notable things from the game was Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta bringing on Declan Rice to play as a centre-back against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League group match. Asked about it, Arteta, quoted by, said in his post-match press conference, “We are very short at the back, I really wanted to try when something happens, how we are going to resolve that situation and I think it was really good. Well he’s played there before and we have to try in case of an emergency. I will have to make sure that we can fill the gap in the right way.”

In the end we could’ve won it: Mikel Arteta

The Arsenal manager then went on to say his thoughts about the 1-1 draw. “Yeah top match, we made eight changes. There were good moments, there were moments we lacked that cohesion and timings especially in the way we pressed against a really good side, when you don’t get the timings right you have to defend awkward spaces and we had to do that a few times tonight which could have cost us the game. But the reality is we had some very good moments as well, I’m really happy with the attitude and behaviour of every single player, how they tried and in the end, we could’ve won it with the chance of Leo and the goal that was disallowed,” he explained.

It has been a while since Arsenal have been in Champions League and Arteta feels that there are several positives that they can take from the group phase. Asked about how has Arsenal’s return to the Champions League felt, he replied, “How long do we have? I think overall very, very positives, after six or seven years without being in the competition with a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience there I think we have competed very very well, I really like the approach of the team in every single game, the way we try to play and dominated the opponents, we have some big results and big experiences as well.”

He added: “Like what we had in Seville, or in Lens and even today, when we make that many changes as well, how the team can act, or how fair it is for certain players to give that exposure, overall finishing first with a game to play we have to be really happy, close that chapter, leave it until February and make sure in February when that chapter opens up again we are in the best possible place to compete against another top side.”

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