Declan Rice had arguably his best performance in an Arsenal shirt in their gritty win over Manchester City. He proved why the Gunners made him their most expensive signing and dished out over £100 million for him in the summer.
Rice completely neutralized the Cityzens’ movement through the central areas and ended a lot of their attacking moves. He made three interceptions, two tackles and won four duels – while also creating a few decent chances too.
The Englishman frustrated Pep Guardiola’s side and ruined their flow in the attacking areas. He might not have won the Man of the Match award, but for many fans, Rice was arguably the best player in the game.
While almost everything he did during the game has been magnified and analyzed, some fans have noticed an interesting interaction involving Rice before kick-off.
Ahead of the game, both teams were made to follow the custom of lining up in the tunnel. Rice seemed laser-focused for the game ahead and seemed confident. He was scanning things around in the tunnel when he suddenly made eye contact with a female person on the sidelines. Check out the footage via Sky Sports below –
The two seemingly shared a little smile before the Englishman entered the pitch with his teammates. Some fans immediately picked it out to show how slick Rice looked while sharing a bright moment with a female.
Some started to investigate exactly who the female person was. A few fans felt that it might be Rice’s partner Lauren Fryer. However, partners of any footballers are not allowed to stand so close to the tunnel or players before kick-off. That female person is actually a member of the Arsenal management staff.
While the focus on the video makes it difficult to judge, it appears that the female figure is Daisy Rutledge. She is the Media & Communications manager at Arsenal.
Rutledge has been working in her position since April 2022 and had worked as a Matchday Safety Steward at Brighton in the past too. As part of her job, Rutledge is the one to look after the players and how they interact with the media personnel.
She is also often seen in Mikel Arteta’s press conference. But a key part of Rutledge is to maintain a strong relation with every player and to give them some training on how to interact with media too.
Because of her position, Daisy is authorized to be close to the tunnel and has the proper accreditation for the same.
It’s clear that she has built up a nice rapport with Rice, who is known for being a friendly person off the pitch. She probably just shared that moment with the midfielder to calm any nerves ahead of the huge game. However, some Arsenal fans have turned this interaction to come up with hilarious possibilities.
A few fans seem to be adamant that this is a ‘genius’ plan set up by Mikel Arteta. They feel that Rutledge is being used as his strategy of ‘two players competing for a place’. That trend all started when he brought in David Raya to compete with Aaron Ramsdale in goal.
In reality, this sweet little interaction is just a candid one shared between two colleagues. Rice seems to have perfectly blended in at Arsenal and is getting on really well with not only his teammates but those operating behind the scenes as well!