Declan Rice of Arsenal challenges Ismael Saibari of PSV during the UEFA Champions League match between PSV v Arsenal at the Philips Stadium on December 12, 2023 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Arsenal player Declan Rice.
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Arteta explains Declan Rice position change as Arsenal held by PSV

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has explained why Declan Rice played in a new position during Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with PSV Eindhoven in the Uefa Champions League. 

The England midfielder came off the bench in the 61st minute to replace Cedric Soares, but instead of performing his usual role he played in the centre of defence for the remainder of the game.

Rice played at centre-back when he initially broke into West Ham United’s first-team at 18 years of age, but after a few error-strewn performances he was converted into a defensive midfielder.

Arteta, who played Thomas Partey at right-back earlier in the season, says he wanted to see how Rice would do in the backline in case they ever need to call upon him when the situation calls for it.

“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,” the Spaniard said after the game.

Arteta added: “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.”

Eddie Nketiah gave the Gunners the lead just before halftime in Eindhoven, but that was cancelled Yorbe Vertessen just five minutes after the interval.

The result had no bearing on Arsenal’s progression to the next round of the competition, as they had already booked their place in the knockouts as Group B winners, but Arteta was nonetheless pleased with how his side performed after making eight changes to the starting lineup.

“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 really very 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.”

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