Declan Rice has penned a heartfelt message to a family member before Arsenal’s clash against Manchester United.

The Gunners signed Rice from West Ham in a £105million deal last summer with the 24-year-old making an enormous impact in his first season at Emirates Stadium.

During his time at West Ham and while playing for England, Rice was deployed at the base of midfield, however Mikel Arteta has thus far had other plans. As a result of regularly being played on the right of a midfield three, Rice has contributed 17 goals from 49 appearances with even Arteta shocked by his goal and assists tally.

“Yes [I am surprised],” he said after the win against Bournemouth where Rice picked up another goal and assist. “We thought that, that was going to be very related to the spaces he was going to occupy on the pitch. But then it’s something else to do it in this league. He’s done it. Credit to him.

“Even when we’ve changed him from position to position, it’s not easy to adapt to that, so I think he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

While also playing a key role in the attacking third, Rice has also been needed to mop up opposition attacks with that likely to occur this Sunday against Manchester United.

The Gunners head into the clash as clear favourites in the midst of their tense Premier League title battle against Manchester City. The midfield battle is expected to be key at Old Trafford with United, plagued by injuries, often leaving huge gaps in the middle of the park that Rice will undoubtedly aim to exploit.

Ahead of the clash, Rice took to social media to send a lovely message to his cousin Finley Munroe following his senior Aston Villa debut against Olympiacos. On his Instagram story, Rice wrote: “Incredible! So proud of you cuz! The first of many I am sure! Keep striving for more [red heart emoji].”

Rice, barring any late injury blows, is set to start in midfield alongside Martin Odegaard, however Arteta faces one key decision. Thomas Partey has been deployed as of late in the role but Jorginho, fresh off signing a new contract, could instead be Arteta’s chosen lynchpin.

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