Declan Rice’s transfer to English Premier League giants Arsenal from West Ham United was the most expensive deal in the last summer transfer window, and the 24-year-old midfielder from England needed no time to settle in his life at the North London club. Just yesterday, the Kingston upon Thames-born Declan Rice helped his new club to emerge victorious in their Tuesday league encounter against Luton Town at the latter’s home, scoring a winning goal in the 90+7th minute to edge out their opponents in a fascinating seven-goal thriller in the Matchday 15 fixture of the 2023/2024 English Premier League Season. The result also saw the Gunners go 5 points at the summit of the league table.
Luton Town Came Back Twice to Earn Their Lead
Arsenal had only one goal coming into their Premier League fixture at Kenilworth Road, that is, securing all three points to extend their lead at the top of the league table. With the aim in mind, the Gunners found the lead as early as the 20th minute, when Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli scored his fourth goal of the season. An Arsenal throw-in caught the home side off guard, allowing Bukayo Saka to break into the box, before he set up Martinelli for the opening goal of the game. Shortly after the opener, Luton Town equalised through centre-back Gabriel Osho. The defender was unmarked during a corner set piece, and he went on to level things up with a header.
Just when teams thought they were heading to the break with a 1-1 score line, Arsenal went ahead for the second time in the game, courtesy of Gabriel Jesus this time around. Both England internationals Saka and Ben White combined with each other in an attacking play, allowing the latter to make it into the dangerous zone, before he delivered an inch-perfect cross to Jesus for his sixth goal in 2023/2024.
More dramas were unfolded when play was resumed in the second half, as Luton Town mounted a comeback. Rob Edwards’s men equalised for the second time in the game in the 49th minute, this time from another corner delivery that caused chaos before the Arsenal goal, and Elijah Adebayo was there to make the visitors pay. Eight minutes later, the home team got their first lead through ex-Everton and Chelsea player Ross Barkley. The 30-year-old received the ball at the left flank and decided to take on the Arsenal defensive backline on his own, stepping over the ball and firing it into the far post.
2 – Ross Barkley tonight became the second player to score on his birthday in the Premier League this season, after Taiwo Awoniyi in August – both have ended up losing the match to Arsenal. Poopers. pic.twitter.com/IllPo90gAb
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 5, 2023
Declan Rice Proved His Lucrative Price Tag
The home side’s happiness did not last, as the game became all square again shortly after Barkley’s inaugural goal for his new team at Luton Town. Another former Chelsea man Kai Havertz made himself to the scoresheet at the hour mark, when Jesus turned to become a provider. The Brazilian forward maintained him balance during a battle with Teden Mengi, and managed to flick the ball for Havertz slot home Arsenal’s own equaliser in the match.
The game did not stop at 3-3, as a final plot twist was written in the closing moments of the game. The most expensive English footballer in the history Declan Rice would give the visitors all three points, after his captain Martin Ødegaard whipped in a delicious cross into the penalty box, which was met by Declan Rice with a header off his impressive vertical. Declan Rice’s effort took a bounce, followed by ending in the bottom right corner for the winning goal of this feisty Premier League encounter.
It is worth mentioning that since joining Arsenal from West Ham United for £100million, Declan Rice have scored three goals and two assists in 22 appearances in all competitions, and two of these goals came as late winners, one against Manchester United back in September, and another versus Luton Town yesterday. Hence, it is safe to say the 24-year-old Declan Rice has proven that he is a big-time player in his Arsenal career thus far.
Gunners Now 5 Points Clear at the Top
With his winning goal at Kenilworth Road, Declan Rice gave Arsenal a huge advantage of 5 points at the summit of the Premier League table after 15 matches, having played one more game than second-placed Liverpool, who will be meeting Sheffield United at Bramall Lane tonight.
The winning manager of yesterday’s Luton Town-Arsenal clash Mikel Arteta said: “I really enjoyed [it], especially the end. The incredible thing about football, the emotions and the moments that you live together with a lot of people. It was a special night. Credit to Luton for the incredible atmosphere they created, the way they played, the way they were coached, they made life really difficult for us, but we found a win. The resilience, the character and quality that the team showed, and how much we wanted it, it was great.”
The 41-year-old also spoke about Declan Rice’s influence to the team since his arrival, particularly in yesterday’s matchup. “Yeah, [he’s scored] three. He has one more to go, so it will happen, I don’t know when but it’ll happen. He had an incredible game again; The leadership, the quality that he’s showing every week and every game, he’s getting better and better and then he has this capacity when he goes in the opponent’s box, he’s got that smell and ability to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Arteta. Arteta and Declan Rice’s Arsenal will next face Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday.
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