Declan Rice has defended Arsenal’s mid-season trip to Dubai after Rio Ferdinand insisted that they cause ‘nothing but trouble’ for teams.
Mikel Arteta took his squad to a warm-weather camp over the winter break after a poor run of results saw them crash out of the FA Cup and register just one win across five Premier League games.
The north Londoners have since returned to England and smashed Crystal Palace 5-0 on Saturday in their first match since their trip to Dubai.
It is reported that Arteta made the trip more of a holiday – aiming to keep sessions light and fun – with all of the players’ wives, partners, families and loved ones invited alongside the main squad.
‘Those Dubai mid-season trips are nothing but trouble,’ Ferdinand said on his FIVE podcast on Monday.
‘They used to just be full of trouble. People were just going out. Today, I don’t know, they (players) are more reserved.
‘We’d go and the manager would say we will get one night out. But that would mean three for us. You’re all giddy like school kids on the plane.
‘You’re getting pings on your phone, you’re getting this nightclub, this beach bar, lovely weather… It’s like kids in a sweetshop.’
Rice, though, has argued that the trip to Dubai was productive as he told the Arsenal website: ‘I think the key is bonding like we’ve just experienced out in Dubai.
‘It’s important to go out for dinners as a team and to put in the time to really get to know each other.
‘Team spirit can be easy to have when things are going well, but in matches when situations are getting tough, that’s when your team spirit will really be tested.’
Rice has also hailed his strong relationship with Arsenal centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes.
‘I’ve formed a lot of really good relationships here,’ Rice added. ‘There’s a lot of different cultures and I’m really close with Gabriel Maghalaes – we get on so, so well.
‘We’re both completely different personalities from completely different backgrounds and we play football in a different way too.
‘But we learn so much from each other and we’ve formed a really good friendship.
‘It’s what I love about the Premier League and Arsenal – it’s such a multicultural environment, and everyone understands that and respects it.’