‘They earned their wages!’ – Martin Keown hails Arsenal trio after victory over Sevilla
A key win for the Gunners in Europe.
Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus registered the goals for the Gunners with the result leaving them top of Group B after their first three games in Europe.
Former Arsenal centre-back Keown was particularly impressed with his old club’s defensive display – hailing Declan Rice, Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba.
‘I think the important thing is Arsenal have now got two home games [in the group stage] and if they can get four points minimum from that then I think they’ll be pretty well safe [to qualify for the knockouts],’ Keown told TNT Sports.
‘So it’s about Sevilla now at home next time round and then Lens as well. But it’s in their hands now Arsenal, it’s a really important win tonight.
‘I thought they showed really good ingredients. Declan Rice, who we haven’t yet mentioned, was magnificent at times. You almost could do with two of him on the pitch, he’s incredible.
‘That resolve that they showed, the two central defenders they earned their wages too, because they had to put everything on the line, throwing their bodies in the way of things.
‘So very satisfying and I think the team now will grow in confidence after that win.’
Speaking more about Rice’s performance, Keown added: ‘Really dogged defending [at the end], and he’d already put a lot of mileage into the game.
‘I think he’s had more carries in the Champions League than any other player bar Rodri.
‘And maybe that’s the role, the Rodri role. But maybe he’s more mobile even than Rodri to do it. We have to respect what Rodri is doing but…
‘I just feel there’s a maturity there, a character, that’s coming into his game. And I actually feel he’s a better player than I ever really believed he was.
‘I’m now seeing it. I’m a real fan of what he’s offering. And when you have to dig in in games, he’s the first one with his hand in the air.’
Fellow pundit Michael Owen, sharing his own views on Rice’s performance at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, said: ‘He started off in a little bit of a higher position than we’re accustomed to, on that left-hand side a little bit, picking the ball up almost in the No.10 position.
‘We saw that quite a lot, he then went on a marauding run in the second half starting from a deeper position – but he’s still playing on that left-hand side.
‘The longer the game went on, the more he got dragged back into a more of a No.6 position on the left-hand side.’