Liverpool vs Arsenal – Analysis & Player Ratings

Final Score
Liverpool 0 – 2 Arsenal

Before kick off today, Arsenal were in dire straits. The transfer window had slammed shut, and we had arrived at Anfield on the back of two goalless draws. Our new signings weren’t working well enough as a unit, and we had lost world class players without replacing them.

Ninety beautiful minutes later, along with two excellent goals from Lukas Podolski & Santi Cazorla respectively, Arsenal are back on track.

Unlike our games versus Sunderland & Stoke, Arsenal started off at Anfield with real belief and enthusiasm. Our quick tempo passing style had returned, and we were beginning to keep the ball for extended periods. Just like old times.

Liverpool, despite boasting a pricey midfield of Nuri Sahin, Joe Allen, & Steven Gerrard, couldn’t control the flow of play as they would have liked. Arteta, who is now enjoying a deeper role in front of the back four, was cutting out attacks and making timely challenges all afternoon. Raheem Sterling, however, was enjoying himself down the flanks. He managed to weave through our challenges on a number of occasions to cause us problems in the box.

In the 31st minute, Lukas Podolski played a powerful pass to Cazorla, who had found acres of space in between the Liverpool half. Cazorla pushed the ball forward, accompanied by Giroud. Podolski had made a surging run ahead of Johnson, and Cazorla made no mistake in finding him on his favoured left foot. Podolski drove it across Pepe Reina for his first ever Arsenal goal.[quote_right]Similarities between [Diaby] & Patrick Vieira will continue to be made, and with performances like today, rightly so.[/quote_right]

As the game went on, Arsenal seemed to grow in confidence. Abou Diaby, who has had a slow start to the season, was phenomenal. His quick feet and balance got him out of tight situations on more than one occasion, and he had the confidence to stride forwards with the ball to open up the Liverpool defence. Defensively, Diaby didn’t put a foot wrong. His challenges were timed to perfection, and he was calm in difficult situations. Similarities between himself & Patrick Vieira will continue to be made, and with performances like today, rightly so.

As Arsenal continued to dominate, Podolski & Cazorla again shared two clever passes to set the latter free in the box. His first touch was superb. The ball was drilled at Pepe Reina, who got it completely wrong, deflecting the ball into his own net.

It was turning into a perfect afternoon at Anfield. We had played valiantly and throughly deserved to be in front.

Suarez, who surprisingly did not feature in the London 2012 Olympics for the Uruguay Diving Team, was orchestrating attacks on the Arsenal back line towards the end of the second half. Joe Allen & Raheem Sterling continued to cause us problems, however we held on bravely, meeting every attack with aggressive challenges.

Per Mertesacker had his critics last year, however his displays so far this season have been commendable. Thanks to his great positional play, he cut out a number of Liverpool passes, and made a last gasp sliding challenge on Raheem Sterling in the box to deny him a shot at Vito Mannone’s goal. Together with Vermaelen, they have formulated a partnership responsible for three consecutive clean sheets. Koscielny, despite his brilliance, might just have a tough time getting back into the side.

[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Mannone: [6/10]
Protected by Mertesacker & Vermaelen for the majority of the game, but made a few good saves. Poor in the air.

Jenkinson: [6/10]
Some improvement on his last two appearances. Dealt well with the tricky Sterling, and broke down a few attacks. Needs to get forward more.

Mertesacker: [8/10]
Harshly booked in the first half, but continued to produce an excellent defensive performance. Beautiful challenege on Sterling in the first half.

Vermaelen: [7.5/10]
Solid as ever. Kept Suarez quiet (sort of) and made some of his trademark forward runs. Went off injured, hopefully nothing major.

Gibbs: [7/10]
Got forward to help Podolski out and did well defensively. Need to work on his crosses.

Diaby: [9/10]
Man of the Match. Kept us ticking all game and dominated the midfield with his quick feet. Superb.

Arteta: [8/10]
Playing in a more defensive role, Arteta has proven to be a colossal asset. Perfectly timed his challenges and never gave the ball away.

Cazorla: [8/10]
Grabbed himself a goal and an assist.Ffinally given the freedom to play behind Giroud for the full ninety minutes thanks to Arteta & Diaby.

Podolski: [7.5/10]
Like Cazorla, Podolski earned himself a goal and an assist. Great link up play with the midfield, and helped Gibbs out regularly. Needs to get on the ball more. Subbed.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: [6/10]
The Ox never really showed up today. Nothing in particular to comment on due to the quiet nature of his game today. Subbed.

Giroud: [7.5/10]
It’s coming. Giroud’s movement is a serious, constant threat, and he did well against Agger & Skrtel in the air today. Still looking for his first goal, despite a good chance in the first half.

Subs:
Ramsey [7/10], Santos [N/A], Koscielny [N/A]

[title]The Bould Effect[/title]

There’s no question about how well we took our goals today. After two dreadful draws, we’re finally firing on all cylinders again. But lets face it, we always expected to score.

What we didn’t expect was the rock solid defensive displays we have been producing. Restraining Liverpool today makes it three consecutive clean sheets, two of which we were playing with our third choice goalkeeper. The introduction of Steve Bould has dramatically reinvented our defending style, as well as our set pieces. That solidity at the back which had eluded us for years has finally arrived.

What did you think of the game? Let us know in the comments section below.

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