Declan Rice told former teammate about Arsenal’s ‘game plan’ ahead of Man City game

West Ham striker Michail Antonio says Declan Rice gave him a pre-match insight into Arsenal’s ‘game plan’ for their clash against Manchester City.

At the end of last month, Mikel Arteta’s side left the Etihad with a point after they produced an admirable defensive display against reigning Premier League champions City.

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It was, in truth, a largely uneventful tie but it appears Arsenal came into the fixture with a game plan – and it worked.

The goalless draw was the first time Manchester City had failed to score in a home Premier League game since a 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in October 2021.

And a day before kick-off, it appears Declan Rice dropped a hint about their plans when he bumped into former West Ham teammate Michail Antonio at the airport.

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Here, Rice said the Gunners would not play like they normally do.

Speaking on the Footballer’s Football Podcast about their exchange, Antonio said: “The craziest thing was we saw Dec, we landed back from Newcastle and Arsenal were at the airport getting ready to take off, so we spoke to Dec and he told us the game plan to be fair.

“He didn’t tell us but he was like ‘we are not going to play, we are not playing like we normally play’. That’s what he said to us, ‘it’s going to be slightly different’.

“We said ‘in what way?’ And he said ‘It ain’t the same Arsenal team’.

“Then when I saw it I applauded. At the end of the day football is entertainment but it’s also a job. And they did their job.”

Antonio added: “That is what made me respect Arteta even more. Do you know who else used to do that and win leagues? Mourinho.”

In his post-match comments, Mikel Arteta said the result would inject “belief” and “momentum” into Arsenal’s pursuit of the Premier League title.

“It generates belief,” he said. “It continues the momentum and the good position that we’re in.

“The fact that the boys are there and they want more and they’re demanding individually from themselves saying, ‘I could have done better, I haven’t done this as well as when we trained’ – that tells you just how much the boys want it.

“We’ll try our best to continue what we’re doing.”

What do you think?


Written by Nike

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