Interview

Rice - They are unbelievably good for their age

Emile Smith Rowe

Pat Rice knows exactly what it takes to win trophies, and he's backing Mikel Arteta's side to bring home silverware sooner rather than later.

An Arsenal youth product himself, the legendary defender won the league and FA Cup double when he was just 22, and went on to win further honours as a player, before lifting more silverware as both a youth team coach, then assistant manager to Arsène Wenger.
 
Now as we prepare to take on Liverpool in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final, he's backing our young side to emulate the sides of 1987 and 1993 by winning the trophy again.
 
"The win in 1987 was really important in laying the foundation for what was to come in the following years under George Graham," Pat says in the matchday programme. "I truly believe that winning that first trophy as a young group of players is crucial to get something started.
 
"I have seen enough to know that this team can do just that. We have got players who are really, really good for their age. I mean unbelievably good for their age. I have seen what it takes to win trophies, and I really believe this group has got that. When you get to a semi-final, you have got that chance, and I am really hoping and believing they can go all the way."
 
Rice, who played 528 times for the first team between 1967 and 1980, says the side should take inspiration from our last game at the Emirates, against Manchester City on New Year's Day.
 
"I was here for our game against Manchester City," he says. "That was so disappointing in the end, but I must say the first half was the best 45 minutes that I’ve seen this side produce yet.
 
"I felt that they were absolutely brilliant. Sometimes the ball rolls for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. Unfortunately it didn’t for us against City, but we should take plenty from it.
 
"We saw the players and the supporters really come together in the stadium – which is how it should be – and we saw how the team responded. It’s the first time I’ve seen the players that disappointed and on their backs at the end of the game, which tells you they know they could have got something from that game."
 
You can read the full feature with Pat Rice in Thursday's matchday programme, available online here or from sellers around the stadium on matchday.

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