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Why Havertz and Rice fit like a glove at Arsenal

03 Jul 2023
James O'Connor 03 Jul 2023
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  • The Gunners spent £65m to sign Kai Havertz from Chelsea
  • Declan Rice is on the verge of a £105m move from West Ham
  • Several departures are expected to balance the books
havertz arsenal
Havertz and Martinelli could be linking up down Arsenal's left flank next season (Getty Images)

Where will Havertz play?

The big conundrum is predicting where Mikel Arteta will use Kai Havertz. Without doubt, there is a clear plan in place for the German international and the Arsenal coach will have sold his vision to the player.

At Chelsea, Havertz played in a variety of roles. However, most of his starts in the last two seasons at Chelsea came as a lone number nine. 

The suspicion is that Havertz could play in the left-sided number eight role which Granit Xhaka occupied. He initially played that role in West London under Frank Lampard.
  • Where will Havertz play?
  • Can Kai play deeper?
  • Rice: an upgrade on Partey
  • Gunners - Aerial Giants
  • Arsenal set to sell

Can Kai play deeper?

At Leverkusen, Havertz played in a number of roles including as a deeper midfielder on occasions and also wide. Can he do the job which Xhaka excelled in last season? 

Firstly, Havertz simply won’t offer the same level of defensive nous as the Swiss international. He will being much more goal threat with his ability to arrive in the box. Erling Haaland was the only player in the league last year to make more off-the-ball runs into the 18-yard area.

Havertz will also bring an aerial threat on crosses and he will attack the space which Gabriel Jesus vacates. Should the latter get injured, the German could cover up front too. To balance this out, expect to see both Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ben White invert into midfield next season.

Rice: an upgrade on Partey

For the massive fee being mooted, Declan Rice will certainly be a starter. Thomas Partey’s advancing years, off-field controversies and late-season poor form could see him lose his place. 

Rice can easily play as the lone number six, especially if the fullbacks are inverting alongside him. 

Should Jorginho come into the XI or if Partey hangs around, Rice can also play as a box-to-box midfielder. He has more to his game than the Ghanaian, less baggage and his best years ahead of him.

Gunners - Aerial Giants

Another major benefit of these two players is the added height they bring. This will give Arsenal more aerial ability to both defend and attack set plays. 

Although Rice is yet to play in the UEFA Champions League, Havertz scored the winning goal in the 2021 final. Both featured in the World Cup in Qatar last year and have significant experience despite being just 24 years old. 

Arsenal set to sell

We could see departures from the club. Thomas Partey is being linked with Saudi Arabian clubs and Granit Xhaka has an offer on the table from Bayer Leverkusen. Nicolas Pepe, Cedric Soares and Folarin Balogun are others who could bring in transfer fees. 

Jorginho was linked with Lazio earlier this summer to rejoin Maurizio Sarri. Players like Fabio Vieira and Eddie Nketiah are others who have some question marks over their future.

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