Football News

Players ratings as Arsenal secure Christmas No. 1 after 1-1 stalemate with Liverpool

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:30, 23 December 2023

Liverpool hosted Arsenal with the Premier League top spot at Christmas up for grabs.

Mikel Arteta’s men came into this latest round sitting first but one point ahead of Jurgen Klopp’s side. This highly-anticipated match lived up to expectations with both teams playing an end-to-end game.

Arsenal took an early lead and remained aggressive, even if that meant giving Liverpool opportunities to get back into the contest which they duly obliged. It was coming and Mohamed Salah naturally equalised.

After all the commotion has subsided, let’s take a look at our player ratings.

Liverpool

Alisson – 6.5 – Caught in no man’s land for Arsenal’s opener.

Kostas Tsimikas – 4 – A desperately unfortunate accident ended his evening. A ball played down the line saw Tsimikas and Saka battling for possession. Saka eventually won the ball and in the process, Tsimikas crashed into Klopp. The full-back sustained a suspected collarbone injury while his boss remained unscathed.

Virgil van Dijk – 8 – The colossal in Liverpool’s defence, Van Dijk, even started a Reds attack, showcasing that Rolls-Royce side to his game. 

Ibrahima Konaté – 6.5 – Composed and dominant in the heart of Liverpool’s backline.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7.5 – A playmaker in full-back’s clothing. Pinged a 60-yard ball straight into Salah’s path and the Egyptian forward did the rest. “Alexander-Arnold’s passing range is out of this world,” came Jamie Carragher’s response on Sky Sports commentary. It also proved to be his 57th assist in England’s top division, the joint-most by a defender in the competition’s history, alongside teammate Andy Robertson. 

Curtis Jones – 5.5 – During his time on the field, Jones won five out of six duels and played an important if silent role in Liverpool’s midfield.

Wataru Endo – 6 – Known for the amount of ground he covers in central midfield, the Japanese international understood his assignment and carried it out diligently.

Dominik Szoboszlai – 6.5 – Came into this fixture riding high following his spectacular effort against West Ham in the EFL Cup, and that momentum enabled him to compete strongly in tonight’s fascinating midfield battle. No one in a Reds jersey won possession more times (7).

Luis Díaz – 5 – He attempted two shots but missed both. Diaz was then substituted due to a knee injury.

Cody Gakpo – 5 – Picked ahead of Darwin Nunez to add an extra man in midfield, similar to how Roberto Firmino operated. However, Gakpo was not very effective in attack and was unable to make an impact.

Mohamed Salah – 7.5 – Who else was going to get Liverpool back into the game? Spun inside and smacked an unstoppable finish into the roof of the net. He’s now been directly involved in 121 goals in 120 appearances in the Premier League for Liverpool at Anfield (88 goals and 33 assists), the outright most of any player for the club.

The Egyptian also became just the fourth player to create 100+ big chances in the Premier League since data was first recorded by Opta.

Substitutes:

Joe Gomez (for Tsimikas 35) – 5.5 – Unleashed a tasty effort from 22 yards that went inches wide of the goal, with Raya at full stretch.

Darwin Núñez (for Gakpo 67) – 4.5 – He displayed good footwork in the few instances when he approached Arsenal’s goal.

Harvey Elliott (for Jones 67) – 4.5 – Nearly put Liverpool ahead moments after coming on.

Ryan Gravenberch (for Díaz 67) – 4 – Was unable to get into the game in a meaningful way.


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Arsenal

David Raya – 6 – Despite conceding, this performance was a much-needed boost after looking nervy in recent weeks.

Oleksandr Zinchenko – 4 – He simply couldn’t handle Mohamed Salah and was Arsenal’s weak link in defence. Early in the second half, Zinchenko lost possession to Salah while attempting to dribble out. Fortunately, Rice was quick to react and cleared the danger. “He’s a liability,” was Gary Neville’s response on Sky Sports commentary.

Gabriel – 7 – Netted after just 3:27, the fastest goal for Arsenal at Liverpool’s home in Premier League history. 

William Saliba – 8 – Made a crucial intervention while Liverpool was dominating. Saliba continues to show why he is Arsenal’s defensive ace. “Saliba was missed here last season, at the start of the run-in. It could’ve been different if he had been fit for Arsenal,” Neville said.

Ben White – 6 – Easy to forget White nominally played centre-back before this positional change. Unlike on the other flank, he wasn’t subjected to as much pressure and managed to come away with four interceptions, the highest in the game for Arsenal.

Kai Havertz – 5.5 – A few months ago, there were doubts about Havertz’s place in Arteta’s team. However, despite his recent good form, tonight’s performance felt like a step backwards.

Declan Rice – 7 – He played a crucial role in front of Arsenal’s defence, often tasked with maintaining possession, which the England international executed perfectly.

Martin Ødegaard – 6.5 – Only assists on the road. Bournemouth, Luton and now Liverpool. 

Gabriel Martinelli – 5 – Before the match, there was a lot of talk about Martinelli’s face-off with Alexander-Arnold. He gave a good account of himself and could have made a difference on another occasion.

Gabriel Jesus – 6 – Despite his tireless work-rate, Jesus’ inconsistency was apparent tonight as he missed a crucial opportunity to double Arsenal’s lead before Liverpool’s equaliser.

Bukayo Saka – 7 – Created the most chances for Arsenal (three) before having a heart-in-mouth moment late on. Saka, who was already on a yellow card, slipped as he went to challenge Gravenberch. Chris Kavanagh avoided giving a red card, implying that the slip was the cause of the reckless nature of the tackle.

Substitutes:

Leandro Trossard (for Martinelli 67) – 4 – Attempted to drive Arsenal forward to no avail.

Eddie Nketiah (for Jesus 77) – N/A – A late sub.

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