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Premier League table: Arsenal’s Rice ‘didn’t know’ Liverpool result before ‘gutting’ defeat v Aston Villa

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Arsenal midfielder Declan Rice has said he wasn’t aware Premier League title rivals Liverpool had lost at home to Crystal Palace before the Gunners followed suit in a “gutting” 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium.

The Reds and Mikel Arteta’s side both suffered surprise setbacks and remain two points behind leaders Manchester City with six matches of each teams’ league seasons remaining.

“I didn’t know they had got beaten,” Rice told BBC Match of the Day after Arsenal suffered their first top-flight loss of 2024 courtesy of late goals by Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.

“My phone was off before the game. I didn’t check the scores or speak to anyone because we can only control what we can do.

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“I don’t worry about the other teams. We didn’t control that today, which is annoying, but we’ve played last before and it’s not been a problem so I don’t think any of that really matters, to be honest.

“It’s just down to us, we can’t put it down to that. As players, we need to look at ourselves and see why we didn’t win the game and why we switched off for two or three minutes, which has killed us.”

Arsenal v Aston Villa: ‘One of those days’

The hosts applied more pressure before the goal and forced several good saves from former Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

Watkins hit the inside of a post for Villa with a first-half shot and Youri Tielemans’ long-range effort came off the crossbar and a post with the score goalless in the second half.

“It’s gutting because of the chances we had in the first half to kill the game off,” reflected Rice.

“It is the Premier League. It is why you need to stay focused for 100 minutes. The spaces we had in the first half weren’t there in the second half.

“They were taking their time with everything and really frustrating us, of course. In the end, they’ve scored two goals and completely killed us off.

“When you don’t take your chances against teams like Villa, who have quality, it can come back to haunt you in the second half – and it did.

“It is one of those days. It happens in football. It is about rolling our socks up and going again.”

Arsenal head to Bayern Munich for the second leg of their Uefa Champions League quarter-final in three days’ time, having drawn the first leg 2-2.

They then take on midtable Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday (7.30pm BST), when they can go top because City are involved in the FA Cup semi-finals. Liverpool visit Fulham on Sunday (4.30pm BST).

“There is the chance for a big reaction on Wednesday night and then away at Wolves,” said Rice. “We’re going to need to be right at it.”

 

 

 

Ben Miller
Ben Miller
Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.

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