Gary Lineker left in awe of Declan Rice as 'exceptional' Arsenal point made

Gary Lineker has heaped praise on Declan Rice for his impressive performance in the 3-0 win over Bournemouth. The 25-year-old has enjoyed a stellar debut campaign since joining from West Ham United last summer.

He added to his tally by providing an assist to Arsenal's second and scoring the third against the Cherries as the Gunners reinforced their position at the top of the table. Speaking on BBC Match of the Day, Lineker singled out Rice for praise, claiming he is 'exceptional' with the ball at his feet.

He said: "Perhaps the star man [vs Bournemouth] was Declan Rice. He has had an outstanding season. He’s really good at running with the ball, isn’t he? Bursting the lines, he is exceptional at that. Lots of good stats!”

Rice is a strong contender to be in the England squad for the upcoming Euro 2024. He pointed out that Gareth Southgate will have a dilemma in choosing to either use him as a holding midfielder or in a number eight role.

"The issue for Gareth Southgate will be where he plays," Lineker added. "Whether he plays him holding because they are a little bit short there, six or an eight. He can play either."

Rice has played in different positions throughout the season, and Mikel Arteta explained the reason behind his decision. He said: "We thought that was going to be very related to his location on the pitch and the spaces he was going to occupy. Then something else is to do it in this league and credit to him.

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"Sometimes we have changed him from position to position and that’s not easy as a player to adapt to that, so I think he deserves a lot of credit to do that."

On the win, Arteta added: "I never expected it to be [an easy game]. We started the game with probably the best first half we’ve played all season.

"I think we were unbelievable, we were super composed on the ball, really aggressive without the ball, we generated so many chances, we could have scored three, four or five easily. But we didn’t, we scored one and then credit to Bournemouth as well, they changed a few things, they created some issues for us and the game became a little bit more open.

"That was something we wanted to avoid, but within that game as well we resolved certain situations in the right way and we were very efficient in front of goal to score the goals, and maintain another clean sheet."