Whoo! Hat tip to a wonderful collective effort by Arsenal on their trip to Anfield. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski delivered the attacking goods while Abou Diaby was simply outstanding in centre midfield pushing up. The defense orchestrated by Thomas Vermaelen fell back in numbers keeping their shape as Liverpool recycled the ball repeatedly to try and crack them open. They got close on occasion but Vermaelen and Mertesacker closed down the angles.
The question on everyone’s mind before the match was where were the goals going to come from? Luckily, for us, Cazorla and Podolski seemed to harbour no such misgivings. Steve Gerrard’s errant pass picked up by the German and relayed upfield to Cazorla saw him sprinting down the left channel all the way to receive the return from the Spaniard and then sweep the ball past Reina to wipe all those fears. Monkey off our backs. Who says Spain can’t bailout Germany? Take that Angela Merkel.
The second half saw that same left flank light up again as Podolski fed the pint sized Cazorla this time as the Spaniard showing his winger qualities (Arsene plays him centrally but Cazorla earned his reputation for his bombing runs down the flanks at Villarreal) brought the ball onto his right foot and cracked a low, hard drive straight to Reina. The Liverpool goalie who has a history of mistakes against Arsenal made a complete mess off it deflecting the ball into goal with his hand.
A special note for Diaby. What quick feet for a long legged man. He was a pillar and a fulcrum at the same time. And he played all 90 minutes. If we can keep him healthy, Song’s loss will easier to take. Mikel Arteta behind him did great work mopping up with his solid, no nonsense presence. He maybe slow but the man has experience protecting the ball.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain got his start but it wasn’t his best day. For most part he was overshadowed by the nippy Raheem Sterling, who was the best Liverpool player on display. Theo Walcott stayed on the bench and the message was clear. His last year on contract means no free matches. He has to earn every minute. Carl Jenkinson is a bloody good full back and his tackling was impeccable and at the other flank Kieran Gibbs did a solid job going forward with Podolski covering for his more suspect defensive qualities.
A few notes. Arsenal can be better in its crossing ability. If you’re going to utilize Oliver Giroud more effectively that area needs to be improved. Which brings us to the Frenchman. It is evident he’s having a hard time coping with the faster pace and more physical style of the Premiership. There is no way a 6′ 4” , 194 lbs frame should get bumped off that easily by Jose Enrique. He has to be more assertive, get his feet set more quickly, and use his aerial ability to make an impact.
Vito Mannone made a couple of great saves off Sterling and then Shelvey. He looks good as a shot stopper but there were some nervy moments on the set pieces and long balls. Luckily for him, Liverpool were unable to capitalize on them and when they were in a position to do so, the defense dealt with them decisively. A great away win at a tough, tough place to play and before we pile onto Liverpool too much, they showed they are not a bad side as City escaped with a draw after being outplayed last weekend. This win should do Arsenal’s confidence a world of good. We’re on our way.