Declan Rice demands Arsenal reaction ahead of 'perfect' Bayern Munich showdown

Declan Rice demands Arsenal reaction ahead of 'perfect' Bayern Munich showdown

Declan Rice believes Wednesday’s Champions League decider with Bayern Munich is the perfect game for Arsenal to show their character after Sunday’s shock defeat to Aston Villa.

Arsenal were beaten 2-0 at Emirates Stadium on a day when Liverpool also lost 1-0 at home to Crystal Palace and Manchester City were handed control of the title race.

City are two points clear at the top of the table with six games remaining and are now favourites to win a fourth consecutive title.

Arsenal must quickly dust themselves down for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern, with the tie in the balance at 2-2 after the first leg.

Mikel Arteta called for his players to “stand up and be counted” after their setback against Villa and Rice has demanded a response in Germany.

“It’s the perfect game for a reaction,” said Rice. “We need a reaction on Wednesday night and it is a great chance to show our character and leadership.

“We’ve been on such an amazing run since January, won so many football matches, and got ourselves back into an unbelievable position after being written off at Christmas.

“Now that reaction starts in the Champions League against Bayern, so we’ll be ready for that.

“We have to park this to the side now. It’s gone. We’ve lost but we need to bounce back, that’s for sure.

“It’s a great chance for us to get into a Champions League semi-final. Going to the Allianz Arena, it’s going to be a special night. It’s time to pull our socks up and show everyone why we’re in this position.”

Rice admits the defeat to Villa was “a kick in the teeth” after Liverpool lost to Palace, but the midfielder believes there will be more twists and turns in the title run-in.

Arsenal play twice in the Premier League before City play again because Pep Guardiola’s side face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend.

The Gunners travel to Wolves on Saturday and then host Chelsea next Tuesday, before City face Brighton next Thursday.

“Obviously it doesn’t read good being two points behind Man City, but I think as you can see with the other results today, there is going to be so many more twists and turns towards the end,” said Rice.

Rice has called for Arsenal to use Sunday’s disappointment against Bayern (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Rice has called for Arsenal to use Sunday’s disappointment against Bayern (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“We have just got to stay positive. We have got six football matches that we need to give absolutely everything for and good things can still happen. We just need to focus on ourselves really.

“I turned my phone off [before the game], so I didn’t know the [Liverpool] result. I have just seen it then when I have come back in. So it is even a bit more of a kick in the teeth seeing that result.

“It’s just annoying that we couldn’t get something from the game because, even if you can’t win, definitely doesn’t lose and you take a point. In the end we have taken nothing, which is obviously gutting.”

Arsenal were the better team in the first half against Villa but failed to take their chances.

They had 14 shots on goal and Rice believes the Gunners were punished for not being ruthless, with Villa striking twice in the final six minutes through Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.

“Not killing the game off in the first-half, I think that is the biggest one,” said Rice, when asked where Arsenal went wrong.

“I think that the space that we had, chances that we created, and the chances that we missed, I think in games like this you have to be scoring one or two of them. In the end, it came back to haunt us.”