Rio Ferdinand names Gabriel Jesus and William Saliba as Arsenal’s most IMPORTANT players as he plays down derby victory by insisting Chelsea didn’t play their first-team in Stamford Bridge encounter
- Rio Ferdinand has heaped praise on Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus and William Saliba
- The Manchester United legend labelled the duo as standout stars this season
- Ferdinand suggested Arsenal would be unable to replace both Jesus and Saliba
- But questioned the Gunners recent victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
Rio Ferdinand has praised Arsenal stars Gabriel Jesus and William Saliba for turning Mikel Arteta’s side into Premier League title contenders this season.
The former Manchester United defender has been vocal in his glowing assessment of Arsenal’s transformation from falling short in their quest for Champions League football last season to current top-flight leaders.
Arsenal re-established their two-point lead over closest challengers Manchester City with a 1-0 victory over cross-city rivals Chelsea in the north west London derby on Sunday. A landmark win for both supporters and players in Arsenal’s quest for a first league title since 2003.
Gabriel Jesus has been recognised as one of Arsenal’s most important players this season
Defender William Saliba has starred for the Gunners since returning to the club in the summer
Arsenal’s re-established their lead at the top of the Premier League with victory on Sunday
Gabriel Magalhaes claimed the only goal of the game as he reacted first to a goalmouth scramble, but the efforts of Brazilian striker Jesus and central defender Saliba didn’t go unnoticed by Ferdinand.
Speaking on his Vibe with Five YouTube channel, Ferdinand highlighted the duo as Arsenal’s most important players.
‘(Arsenal’s) most important player is Gabriel Jesus or William Saliba. If those players come out the team, the drop-off from that level is massive.
Arsenal’s Gabriel Magalhaes (red) scores the only goal of the match in win over Chelsea
Rio Ferdinand insists Chelsea played a weakened side in Sunday’s league loss to Arsenal
Ferdinand hailed Jesus (left) and Saliba (right) as Arsenal’s most important players this season
‘You could play Granit Xhaka in Thomas Partey’s position and get through a couple of games, but you won’t get the same output from someone who comes in for Jesus or Saliba.
Jesus has starred since completing his £45million summer move to the Emirates from Man City off the back of lifting his fourth Premier League title in Manchester, scoring five goals and registering five assists in the league.
Gunners boss Mikel Arteta (left) brought Jesus (right) to the club in the summer
While for a long time Saliba was an outcast under Arteta, being sent on loan three times before being re-called to kick-start his Gunners career three years after signing for the club.
However despite recording successive Stamford Bridge victories over their closest rivals for the first time since 2004, Ferdinand refused to join overenthusiastic Arsenal supporters in celebrating as he claimed Chelsea fielded a severely weakened side.
‘What I would say is I agree the control without the ball against Chelsea was next level. Unreal.
‘It shows you the coaching and hard work that has gone in under the manager. That was a patched up Chelsea team, they are missing Reece James, Ben Chillwell, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana, Ngolo Kante, there is six players that more or less start in that team.
‘I was so impressed with how Arsenal played but let’s have a little reality check. Arsenal are a serious team now but it wasn’t even their (Chelsea’s) first-team.
Ferdinand has heaped praise on Arsenal’s stars for their tremendous performances this season