After a crucial win at Stamford Bridge, the Arsenal center-backs shone as they climbed back to the top of the Premier League. After defeating Chelsea on Sunday by a score of 1-0,sprinted back to the top of the Premier League. The expectation was on Mikel Arteta’s team to respond at Stamford Bridge after Manchester City overtook them 24 hours earlier with a victory over Fulham.
And they succeeded in doing so, earning their third straight league victory against their west London rivals due to a goal from Gabriel Magalhaes in the 63rd minute. The Arsenal center-back assisted in giving the guests a deserving victory by turning in Bukayo Saka’s corner.
If anything, Arsenal should have won by a larger margin, but Arteta won’t be concerned at all because he got to enjoy seeing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have a terrible afternoon against his former team. Next weekend, Arsenal will travel to Wolves with the knowledge that a win there will put them on top of the standings heading into the World Cup break.
The Performing Side:
Gabriel Magalhaes: This was a huge day for Gabriel because he’s one of the few Arsenal players that have faced some criticism this year. In the middle of the defense, he and William Saliba excelled, allowing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to only make eight touches while he was on the field.
The game’s pivotal play came from Gabriel at the other end, who got on the end of a corner kick from Bukayo Saka to score his second goal of the year. Few defenders possess Gabriel’s innate talent, and when he performs at this level, he ranks among the finest center-backs in the nation.
William Saliba: Thiago Silva, a center-back for Chelsea, is among the best of his generation. Saliba, though, is an Arsenal center-defender who appears to have what it takes to rule Europe for many years to come. At Stamford Bridge, the France international was outstanding. He scarcely kicked Aubameyang. Then, when Armando Broja entered the game to provide a stronger presence, the Arsenal center-back handled him with ease. Saliba played the entire game with the poise of a defender who has played in the Premier League for years, not just a few short weeks. What a gift.
Mikel Arteta: Arteta now has three straight victories at Stamford Bridge. A place that once brought up painful memories for Arsenal has now been transformed into the Gunners’ play area. Even with their strong start to the season, Arsenal’s ability to compete against the Premier League’s elite teams was still in doubt following the loss at Old Trafford earlier in the year. This was a major accomplishment for Arteta. Not only did they return to the top of the table, but this also had a huge psychological impact on the young Spanish team.
The Losing Side:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: After being replaced, the expression on his face said it all. Aubameyang had talked the talk before the game by appearing in a BT Sport promotional film, which drew a lot of ire from Arsenal supporters. But he fell short of living up to his talk on the field when playing against his former team, managing just eight touches in a wholly nondescript display. He was removed after just 64 minutes, so Aubameyang might not be quite as frank before the rematch in north London the following year.
Gabriel Jesus: Jesus would have been celebrating a goal that would have been on par with any scored this season if he had made a stronger connection with Gabriel Martinelli’s cross in the middle of the first half. Instead, the Arsenal striker headed wide after making a mistake with his header, preventing the squad from scoring a goal that would have been remembered for years to come. Jesus has now gone nine games across all competitions without scoring, and with each game that goes by, the issue gains more attention. At Stamford Bridge, he had the opportunity to put an end to all of that conversation, but he chose not to use the opportunity.
Kieran Tierney: This was another low point for Tierney in what has been a difficult season after the high of scoring the game-winning goal against FC Zurich on Thursday night. The Scotland international was anticipated to start against Stamford Bridge after his impressive performance in midweek, but Arteta instead put Oleksandr Zinchenko back in the starting lineup even though he hadn’t played since October 1. Zinchenko was replaced by Tierney at the break, but this served as yet another stark warning to the left-back that he has dropped significantly this season.
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