Arsenal went into Monday night’s fixture against Liverpool with a surprising line-up, as defenders Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were both ruled out.
The Gunners haven’t lined up without both of the first-choice centre-halves since April 2012, but did manage to keep a clean sheet against Brendan Rodgers’ side with Calum Chambers and Gabriel deputising for the missing duo.
“I think they had a good game,” Héctor Bellerín said after the match, clearly impressed by his teammates. “The fact that we are going home with a clean sheet says a lot. It is difficult to be thrown into a game like this when you haven’t had a lot of game time.
“I think they did really well, them and the whole team.”
Despite a shaky start, Chambers grew into the game and had a far better second half. Gabriel, meanwhile, played excellently throughout.
“There were some times when we had trouble getting the ball out from the back,” Bellerín said, and it was an area that he unusually struggled in as well as Chambers. “But I think we dealt very well with their front three. They had a lot of power up front and the fact we are going home with a clean sheet says a lot.”
This was probably the biggest test of Gabriel’s Arsenal career so far, and he passed it with flying colours. Alongside him Chambers definitely improved when the game went on, and it should be remembered that he is only 20 and was making his first start since March.
With Mertesacker and Koscielny turning 31 and 30 respectively this year, we are likely to see the partnership of Chambers and Gabriel much more often in the future. This was their first start together and, theoretically, they should form a nice balance in the middle of the defence.