Declan Rice is the missing piece in Arsenal’s jigsaw puzzle, says Malaysian fan

When news broke that Arsenal was buying Declan Rice for £105 million from West Ham, many balked at the price tag.

Victor Yong was not among them, as he firmly believes that the English international can guide manager Mikael Arteta’s side to the English Premier League crown, and end 20 years of heartache.

Yong said that while the cost might seem high, the long-term benefits of having a player like Rice, far outweigh any investment.

“I firmly believe Rice’s presence will add substantial steel to the squad. The price tag is due to the inflated ‘English tax’ that clubs often face,” said Yong, who started supporting Arsenal as a 15-year-old, in 1995.

“He brings a unique blend of defensive prowess and adaptability that could elevate our team’s performance and provide that extra edge needed to compete at the highest levels.”

He added that Rice’s tactical flexibility offers Arteta the ability to fine-tune strategies for various pressing scenarios.

Yong said Rice can provide a solid defensive foundation to allow Arsenal’s midfielders and wingers to push higher up the pitch.

“There is an air of optimism surrounding the team, and with the progress we have seen under Arteta, I believe we are moving in the right direction,” said the father of one.

“Our squad has a great mix of young talent and experienced players. The new players have added depth and quality to our ranks.”

Add those ingredients together, and Yong believes Arsenal can win its first title since 1994.

He predicted Manchester City, Liverpool, and Newcastle will be in the top four, while at the end of the table, there will be quick returns to the Championship for the three newly-promoted clubs – Burnley, Luton, and Sheffield United.

“The Premier League is known for its unpredictability, so this is my current perspective. The competition is fierce, and anything can happen,” said Yong, who is looking for new opportunities in strategic planning and corporate communications.

“Including Newcastle in the top four might raise eyebrows, but I believe they could surprise everyone and secure a place among the elite.

“As always, the Premier League is full of twists and turns. That is what makes it so captivating.”

Yong has enjoyed many thrilling years supporting Arsenal, and says Dennis Bergkamp’s incredible skills and performance convinced him to be a ‘Gooner’ – what Arsenal fans call themselves.

It is a derivation of the team’s nickname – Gunners.

“During that time, there was quite a bit of buzz around the other ‘DB’ (David Beckham), from Manchester United supporters among my high-school peers,” said Yong.

“I have always been one to go against the crowd, and decided to support Arsenal because of its rich history, exciting playing style, and the way the team and club stood out.”

One memory sticks out vividly in Yong’s mind – the day Ian Wright scored his 179th goal for Arsenal on Sept 13, 1997.

Wright scored a hattrick against Bolton, but his second goal from close range sealed the then-record.

“My all-time favourite moment has to be when Wright broke Arsenal’s scoring record. The sheer joy and passion he brought to the game is unparalleled.

“I remember that iconic moment when he scored that goal and celebrated by yanking up his jersey to reveal the words ‘JUST DONE IT,’” recalled Yong.

“It was a tribute to his commitment, perseverance, and affection for the club. It demonstrated his exceptional skills in scoring goals, and his distinctive character that deeply connected with supporters like myself.”

Wright finished his Arsenal career with 185 goals from 288, but Frenchman Thierry Henry broke the record after netting 228 from 377 matches.

FIXTURES (Malaysian Time)
SATURDAY
Luton vs West Ham (3am)
Sheffield United vs Everton (7.30pm)
Manchester City vs Fulham (10pm)
Chelsea vs Nottingham Forest (10pm)
Burnley vs Tottenham (10pm)
Brentford vs Bournemouth (10pm)

SUNDAY
Brighton vs Newcastle (12.30am)
Crystal Palace vs Wolves (9pm)
Liverpool vs Aston Villa (9pm)
Arsenal vs Manchester United (11.30pm)

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