Rice sure Gunners have right calibre for the season ahead

Assistant manager Pat Rice believes Arsenal have turned the corner and will only get better this season.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 14th September 2011, 6:02 pm

The Gunners were denied victory last night in their Champions League Group F encounter at Borussia Dortmund by a last-gasp volley from Ivan Perisic.

The substitute’s exquisite effort levelled the scoreline at Signal Iduna Park after Robin van Persie’s first-half goal looked to have given Arsenal an unlikely win.

With manager Arsene Wenger forced to watch from the stands due to a touchline ban, assistant Rice was the man charged with leading the side and he believes the only way is up.

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Asked whether Arsenal have turned the corner, he said: “Very much so.

“It seemed the game on Saturday [against Swansea] was our start of the season because of the uncertainty as to who the players would be that leave us and whether they wouldn’t.

“The players that we have acquired are very, very good players, contrary to what other people have said.

“I have no doubt that they will show it and in the games to come.”

Arsenal were forced to defend resolutely throughout the clash in Germany, with Dortmund playing in a free-flowing 4-2-3-1 formation.

“It was very much like playing Arsenal,” Rice added. “Now we know what it is like whenever we are on form.

“But our lads stuck to [the task] well. It was a very hard game for both sides.

“When Gervinho went through, the tie could have been over if he stuck it in the back of the net.

“So really and truthfully you could argue that a point apiece was a good result.”

Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp was delighted by his side’s performance.

“I hoped the defeat against Hertha Berlin at the weekend would not have any influence,” he said.

“We found our style, we were able to impose our game and we were very disciplined in defence. We did great marking in defence and it was a great achievement by my team.

“We created a lot of chances. I know we didn’t use them really but we did well. I am very satisfied with the performance of my team.

“Arsenal is a very offensive-playing team and we were able to hold them.

“We were rewarded with one point from this hard fight and it is great for this young team to have achieved this draw.”

The other match in Arsenal’s group saw French side Marseille win 1-0 away at Olympiacos, a strike from Lucho Gonzalez on 51 minutes settling the tie, although les phocéens ended the match with ten men after Rod Fanni was sent off late on.

In Group A, Chelsea got their campaign off to a winning start with a 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Despite the German side, inspired by former Blue Michael Ballack, putting up a resolute display for the best part of an hour, a David Luiz strike and then a late goal from Juan Mata settled matters. In the other match in the group, Racing Genk and Valencia drew 0-0 in Belgium.