Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has spoken to the media about Arsenal's impressive set-piece record this season. 

The Gunners have scored 16 goals from dead balls so far this campaign, the most in the Premier League, and this is mainly down to one man's excellence. This player is none other than the club's record signing Declan Rice.

The English midfielder racked up two assists from set pieces in his side's recent game against West Ham, which just goes to show how deadly he can be from corners and free kicks.

Whilst Rice's sudden set piece prowess has come as a pleasant shock to many fans, Arteta claims that it was well known amongst himself and Nicolas Jover (Arsenal's set piece coach) that this was a deadly weapon within his arsenal.

When the Spaniard was asked about the dominant midfielder's corner taking, he responded by saying:

“It was a quality that we knew he had. His relationships to the players that we have on the pitch and the players that are attacking the box as well, we believe that he could be a real threat inside the box. Now that we have all the players, for example Jakub [Kiwior] has been playing the last line so he has given us an extra height so Declan’s role can change.”

Arteta also has mentioned that Rice has been consistently working on his corner technique in training.

“He has been practicing and has been excellent with the consistency and quality of those deliveries and he is another way of threatening the opponent.”

How Crucial Are Dead Balls?

In matches that could be decided by the flip of a coin, a stroke of excellence from the corner flag or a sublime free kick could be the difference between two sides.

The Arsenal gaffer has explained that capitalising on these chances is essential, especially against teams who are playing for a draw.

The Gunners' attacking threat has seen many other sides deploy a low block, in order to prevent them losing by a large figure. However, Arsenal have seem to have broken that curse, scoring over 10 goals in their past two games. 

“It is very important to open games and to finish games. Especially against the amount of teams that we play against that have low blocks with the space and the density - it is incredibly high. It’s another opportunity to put numbers in the box as well and create very chaotic moments for the opponent and is a good chance for us to score.”

Tonight, Arsenal face Porto in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie. The Portuguese giants have kept five clean sheets in their last seven matches, so finding the back of the net may be a difficult task for the London side's attackers.

This is why Rice may play a crucial role due to his dangerous corners, which could cause major threat to the Porto defence.

Another question that was asked to Arteta was if Rice's dead ball deliveries make him a better player, to which he responded with the following.

“There are areas that have huge impacts towards the team and this is one of them. There are others that are going to be related more to his position because at the moment I think we get the leisure out of him and the areas he can occupy on the pitch.“

Arteta also suggested that he believes that opponents will struggle to deal with his side’s set piece strategies by quoting:

“I think we are going to see a big impact in the opponent’s box and defensively, I think he brings something special to the team and it allows a lot of transition moments.”

Hopefully Rice can keep up the levels of his performances heading into the back end of the season, starting with tonight's monumental Champions League clash.