Paul Merson overjoyed by ‘phenomenal’ Arsenal win, as John Barnes explains how Gunners have grown

William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes

Paul Merson has labelled Arsenal ‘outstanding’ and ‘phenomenal’ for how they handled Liverpool in their 3-2 Premier League victory at home.

Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka were the stars as Arsenal went back to the top of the table with an impressive victory over Jurgen Klopp’s side. It wasn’t easy or simple, as Darwin Nunez and Roberto Firmino both scored good goals for Liverpool.

However, Arsenal ultimately came out on top and Mikel Arteta celebrated wildly at full time, with another three points in the bag.

When analysing the match, Merson and Barnes praised Arsenal for how they managed the game after going 3-2 up with 14 minutes of normal time left.

This is something Arsenal have struggled with in recent years, but they are looking like a much more sturdy and reliable outfit this season.

“Outstanding,” Merson said about Arsenal on Sky Sports (09/10, at 18:51). “I thought they started very well, got out of the blocks and scored early doors. Liverpool got into it and were probably the better team when it went to 1-1.

“You’re looking for half time to come so you can settle and then they [Arsenal] go 2-1 up.

“Come out second half, then Liverpool get an equaliser again. And then when they [Arsenal] scored, I thought Arsenal’s management of the game was phenomenal. After they went 3-2 up there was never really a threat from Liverpool.

Paul Merson ‘so impressed’ by Arsenal

“You’re talking about a young team that looked a very experienced team at the end. They kept the ball, never panicked and I was so impressed. They’re top of the league [with] another game gone, keep on doing what they’re doing.

“I haven’t seen the place [Emirates Stadium] like this for a very long time.”

Barnes went on to explain how this young Arsenal side has grown under Arteta. “Special praise to Arsenal because this young team could have capitulated after Liverpool came back to 1-1,” he said. “Arsenal went 2-1 up, Liverpool came back to 2-2.

“We’ve seen in the past the young players, their heads have dropped. Can they manage the game? They did manage the game.

“I think it’s a bit of a soft penalty but I think that overall Arsenal really showed their steel and metal in adversity. Once Liverpool come back, you think they’re going to go on [and win it] but Arsenal, as Paul said, managed the game well.”

Jamie Redknapp, who was also on Sky Sports’ coverage of the match, added that this Arsenal team has more ‘character’ than in previous campaigns.

Manchester City will still probably be favourites for the title, given the exceptional form of magic trio Erling Haaland, Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden.

However, Arsenal remain top of the table and will have massive confidence about finally getting back into the top four, or potentially finishing second.

Arteta would love to be able to bring Champions League football back to the north London outfit after they came so close to fourth spot last term.

Meanwhile, Arteta has heaped praise on an Arsenal player who was ‘a nightmare’ for Liverpool to defend against.