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Mario Melchiot says Arsenal have a player who acts like a captain alongside Martin Odegaard

Pundit Mario Melchiot believes that Declan Rice is almost acting as Arsenal captain despite not wearing the armband.

Melchiot was covering Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Everton for Premier League Productions yesterday.

Alongside Ian Wright and Alan Shearer, he discussed the impact that Declan Rice has made since joining from West Ham United.

The 24-year-old midfielder has slotted into Mikel Arteta’s side perfectly this season.

Everton didn’t offer much going forward, but any time they tried to hit Arsenal on the counterattack, Rice was there to break it up.

His brilliant close control also meant he could move the ball quickly from flank to flank in the final third as Arsenal looked for an opening.

In the end, it came via a fantastic Leandro Trossard finish after a well-worked corner.

Everton FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Melchiot has suggested that the way Rice plays for Arsenal he’s basically another captain on the pitch.

He’s got plenty of experience of leading a team in the Premier League during his time at West Ham.

Rice is Arsenal captain without the armband – Melchiot

Speaking about the 24-year-old, Melchiot said: “Is he not the perfect example of people talking about the captaincy of a team?

“I think he is the captain without the armband. You don’t need the armband all the time to be the leader in the team.”

Ian Wright added: “The way he plays he leads by example.”

Declan Rice has allowed Arsenal’s other midfielders to play with more freedom since his introduction.

There were question marks over whether he was as defensively solid as Thomas Partey in that role.

Everton FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

However, there have been no issues so far with Rice playing in that single pivot for the Gunners.

It allowed Martin Odegaard and Fabio Vieira to support Arsenal’s front three and not have to worry about being hit on the break.

Rice earned praise from Gary Neville for his defensive work yesterday and even without the captain’s armband, he was vital to Arsenal’s victory.

He faces two much more difficult tasks this week ahead of his Champions League and North London Derby debuts.

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