3 standout Arsenal players from 1-1 Liverpool draw

  • Gabriel Magalhães provided Arsenal with the perfect start thanks to a header in the first few minutes.
  • Mohammed Salah then beat Oleksander Zinchenko and buried his shot in the top corner to draw Liverpool back level.
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold missed the biggest chance in the game and the top of the title clash ended in a draw.
Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League / MB Media/GettyImages

Arsenal visited Liverpool at Anfield in their final game before Christmas. A draw would keep the Gunners top of the table and a loss would give the lead to Liverpool.

However, Arsenal haven't won at Anfield since September 2012 and Mikel Arteta, who was in that winning squad, wanted to coach a statement victory that would cement their place and give them some real confidence.

That wasn't the case. A slippery pitch made for a game marked by sloppy passes but the quality of both teams was on full display at times.

A draw was probably a fair result considering the whole game. Salah's goal was given away far too easily by Oleksandr Zinchenko, who barely put a tackle in. Overall, Arsenal fans should be happy topping the league at Christmas but a win would have been fantastic.

Although there were some poor performances courtesy of Zinchenko, and, to an extent, Gabriel Martinelli, there were also three impressive performances.

3 standout Arsenal players from 1-1 Liverpool draw

Let's focus on the three players who did have a very good game.

1. Gabriel Magalhães

Big Gab has been sensational this season. His defending is discliplined, brave and efficient. Whenever Salah got to run at Zinchenko, it was a very unenjoyable watch as an Arsenal fan, but if the Egyptian ran at Gabriel, I wasn't scared at all.

Of course, he also provided Arsenal's only goal with a great header. Since September 2020, no Premier League defender has scored more goals and being able to pop up with a goal from time to time is a massive advantage.

The Brazilian just inspires confidence and, having just turned 26, he is likely to be a mainstay in this Arsenal team for a long, long time.

He has speed, he has strength, he has composure and he has been so consistent this season. He is perhaps the biggest unsung Arsenal hero this season.

2. William Saliba

What a centre-back pairing. Ben White is completely right, there is not much these two do wrong and there is barely a weakness between the two of them.

Saliba's speed combined with his composure makes Arsenal's defence so solid. There is no panicking and few last-ditch tackles because, thanks to the Frenchman, the team is rarely put into those sorts of situations.

With Virgil van Dijk on the other side of the pitch, it felt like a passing of the torch. Similar strong and fast defenders, Saliba seemed to me to be the better of the two by a small margin.

When Alexander Arnold missed his chance, Darwin Nunez and Saliba raced each other across the length of the pitch and Wilo came out on top. Salah then only had one option thanks to Rice's positioning and Saliba's sprinting and it turned an incredibly easy chance into a less incredibly easy chance.

Saliba is constantly winning little duels that make his teammates' life easier. With every game that passes, he is cementing himself as the best centre-back in the league.

3. Martin Odegaard

Captain Odegaard has two types of great performances: games where he contributes the killer touch, either with a deft assist or a controlled shot into the back of the net, and games where he quietly does lots of little things very well, alleviating pressure and pushing the team forward.

Against Liverpool, it was the latter kind of performance. He won seven out of 12 duels, put in five tackles and one block. In the game against Aston Villa, I was a little disappointed by the Norwegian, but he rectified his mistakes from that game, engaging in duels well.

He also continued to play a deeper role, dropping next to or even lower than Declan Rice and then finding the right passes to get forward. It's a role that has been successful so far, giving a bit more space to Saka and giving him more of an influence in the build-up.

With that being said, it was also Odegaard who provided a very good cross for big Gab's finish, showing his quality with the final ball.

Going forward, some players in the squad will become surplus to requirements. Saliba, Gabriel and Odegaard certainly will not.