Daily Express


- From Matthew Dunn

MIKEL ARTETA used the dead-rubber draw with PSV Eindhoven to cook up something different with Rice.

Eddie Nketiah’s first Champions League goal was wiped out after half-time by Yorbe Vertessen but the talking point was the Arsenal manager’s decision to play £105million midfielder Rice as a centre-back for the last half-hour.

Arteta said: “We are very short at the back and I really wanted to try if something happens, how we’re going to resolve that situation.

“He was really good. We have to try as if we have an emergency, we have to understand and to be sure that we can fill that gap in the right way. He has a lot of composure on the ball, he wins a lot of duels for a player of his size and he has done it in the past. He is a good option.” Rice’s services may be of more value in midfield after Mohamed Elneny was forced off with a hamstring injury. Arteta said: “He felt something, we don’t know the extent.”

Brentford target Johan Bakayoko terrorised the Arsenal defence. And having had a £34m bid fall down last transfer deadline day, PSV manager Peter Bosz had a warning for the Bees.

Bosz said: “He is so good every time he plays, his price goes up and up. Remember he is still only 20.”

Arteta’s main concern now is to nurse his squad through the Premier League campaign and put the Champions League to bed for the coming weeks irrespecti­ve of Monday’s draw in Nyon.

He said: “Overall, finishing first with a game to play we have to be really happy. We have to close that chapter now until February.”

 ?? ?? OPTIONS: Arteta experiment­s
OPTIONS: Arteta experiment­s

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