On a day when it felt like Arsenal would drop points in the Premier League title race, Declan Rice shined when it mattered most with a 97th minute winner to defeat Luton Town 4-3 at Kenilworth Road. It was a day that could’ve been overshadowed by goalkeeping errors by David Raya but Arsenal and Rice’s mentality shined during the match to continue their hot start to the season. With the festive period getting underway which will see Premier League teams start to play two league fixtures per week, it’s a time where a lot of movement will be happening in the table.
But ahead their title rivals taking the pitch, Arsenal were able to pull out a winner. Defensively there were concerns but the positives will outweigh the negatives for Mikel Arteta. Kai Havertz scored another goal as he is beginning to round into attacking form but it was a landmark moment for Rice, who has been exceptional since his move from West Ham, now having his signature, game-changing moment:
This is now his thrid goal of the season but it’s his biggest one. Rice has slotted seamlessly into midfield allowing Arsenal to utilize a more expansive attack in front of him but against Luton, he reminded that he’s part of the attack as well with an excellent header. Still clear at the top of the table, it’s beginning to feel like Arsenal may complete the job that they couldn’t last season and win the Premier League.
Rice’s goal is their fifth goal this season in the 90th minute or later which is the highest tally in the league and any of the top five leagues as well. Two of those goals have also been game-winning goals. Rice has now become the third different Arsenal player to score two game winning goals in the 90th minute or later in the same season, joining Ian Wright (1993-94 and 1994-95) and Niklas Bendtner (2009-10).
Numbers like these are why Arsenal can win the title. They’ve now been involved in a title race and never feel like they’re out of a game and it shows when they can snatch all three points from situations like the game against Luton, which could be the difference come season’s end.