Declan Rice: ‘This is a new Arsenal now. We are ready to change what people say about us’

England midfielder reflects on club team’s mindset heading into showdown at Manchester City and handling pressure on big stage

It was a throwaway line from Declan Rice because at the beginning of the week his focus was with England – on his 50th cap in the Wembley friendly against Belgium on Tuesday – and captaining his country for the first time. Still, the Arsenal midfielder was asked about what was coming afterwards – namely his team’s Premier League showdown at Manchester City on Sunday – and he made the point that “if you want to get past that barrier of Arsenal being labelled as stuff, you have to go there and win”.

Labelled as stuff? It feels like a good starting point for another sit-down with Rice (twice in one week is practically unique for any player, let alone a card-carrying A-lister), especially now that the game is the next game and what a game it is, loaded with significance for the title race. Could Rice elaborate? What sort of labels did he mean?

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