Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2: The New Boys Finally Arrive at the Party
‘Expecting anything more than a draw is pretty ambitious. There have been defensive mistakes in the past two games that have led to Liverpool FC giving up goals, but the only way Giroud or Podolski are scoring is on a blunder because neither look capable of scoring more than 10 goals this season right now.
Just like last season, I expect Arsenal to start slow and give away points early but finish strong and give teams a serious run for a top four spot. Losing your top goalscorer that did all of the heavy lifting up front is not something to take lightly, and just because you brought in two guys you “expect” to replace him does not mean it will be instantaneous. Cazorla was a fantastic signing, he will be a very good Arsenal player and is your biggest threat right now.
If I was a gambling man I’d go Liverpool 2-1 with one of your defenders scoring on a set piece and Suarez and Borini to get on the score sheet. Best of luck to you guys, we will find out soon enough! - Derek Mountford, an ardent Liverpool supporter that dropped a comment on my match preview.
Steve Bould and his defensive crew have been lauded for the team’s defensive performances against Sunderland and Stoke but they were to face a stern test in the form of Liverpool and their pacy attack. On his day, Luis Suarez is a world beater and he was to be supported by Rahim Sterling and Fabio Borini, that have large reserves of pace as well. Their midfield had an intimidating outlook, with the legendary Steven Gerrard supported by Joe Allen and the kid Arsenal sought, Nuri Sahin.
Arsene Wenger starting XI was a close match to the XI I predicted in yesterday’s post with the only exception being, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain taking Walcott’s proposed slot. Arsenal had to keep their concentration levels in check against a Liverpool team that was pretty impressive against the defending champions last week, bar the atrocious defending of course.
As expected, the Reds came at Arsenal like a raging bull with Borini lashing his shot over the bar. Suarez was touted to be a huge threat all game long, and he had a chance to put his side ahead from a dead ball, but he launched the ball into orbit. There was a delightful move where Liverpool’s attacking trio almost tore Arsenal’s defense apart with Sterling connecting well with Suarez but Borini’s final ball was poor to say the least.
Arsenal came out of their shells with Santo Cazorla firing a tame shot straight at Reina, but it was easy pickings for the goalie with more hair than Howard Webb. Liverpool had a golden chance to draw first blood when Daniel Agger was unmarked from a Gerrard corner but he failed to connect with his header.
After over three and a half hours without conceding and scoring as well, Arsenal broke its Premier League goalscoring duck when Lukas Podolski launched a counter attack with a direct pass to Cazorla while he forayed forward. The diminutive Spanish magician dallied on the ball before slotting in a peach of a pass to Podolski, and the rest was history.
Liverpool started an attack from the right flank with a cross lofted into Arsenal’s danger area. Vito Mannone failed to deal the ball, allowing Gerrard to link up Sterling that slammed his shot into the post. Arsenal responded with a brilliant piece of individual display from the much-maligned Abou Diaby.
The lanky Frenchman started a slalom run that saw him leave his markers for dead before sending a diagonal ball to Olivier Giroud. However, a rush of blood went into Giroud’s head and he fired his first-timed shot wide. Kieran Gibbs was absolutely livid as he felt that he was in a better position to score. Gibbs was to get his chance later on from a cushioned Podolski pass but Reina was equal to that challenge.
Liverpool brought on Stewart Downing to add some verve to their attack and later on, he executed a perfectly-timed back heeled pass to Suarez, but the Uruguayan blasted his shot straight at Mannone to make another chance go begging. Carl Jenkinson was very adept with his defensive duties but he made an unusual foray forward and fired a good shot with his weaker left foot that was saved by Reina.
Diaby continued his impressive performance in the box-to-box role, letting Arteta do the “dirty work” in the middle. He did really well to find Cazorla that blasted an effort wide off the mark.
Cazorla wasn’t going to be denied a second time when he exchanged some intricate passes with Podolski before showing off his ambidexterity by blasting a left footed shot straight at Reina’s near post. Fortunately for Arsenal, Reina picked the perfect moment to invoke the spirit of Manuel Almunia, which ensured that the Gunners were two goals to the good.
Arsenal had a chance to make the scoreline embarrassing when an over-the-top through ball was fed into Giroud’s path with Luis Enrique being the only threat for the forward. However, Giroud was very sluggish in his approach allowing the defender to nick the ball away to safety.
Liverpool went on a late surge with substitute, Jonjo Shelvey, blasting a shot that was parried magnificently by Mannone, but the Italian defender had his captain to thank as Vermaelen arrived on the scene to clear the ball to safety. Gerrard opened the defense with another pass to Suarez but the striker chose to chip the goalie instead of blasting the ball home. With time running out on Liverpool, Shelvey fired another surface-to-goal missile that was saved acrobatically by Mannone.
Howard Webb’s final whistle was like to music to every Gooner’s ears, as the club had successfully kept three consecutive clean sheets in the start of its Premier League campaign, a feat achieved 88 years ago.
Mannone (7.5) put up a stellar performance and has given Wenger something to think about when selecting Wojciech Szczesny’s deputy.
Jenkinson (7.5) was very impressive in his defensive duties and has finally come of age in the absence of Bacary Sagna.
Gibbs (7.0) solidified his status as Arsenal’s primary left back and he did very well to support Podolski on the left.
Mertesacker (7.5) proved his aerial prowess and justified the manager’s reason to start him ahead of Koscielny.
Vermaelen (8.0) was a beast at the back and came to his team’s rescue times without number.
Arteta (7.5) was immense in the middle of the park and showed off his defensive side as well.
Diaby (8.0) put up one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt. We hope to see more in the near future.
Cazorla (8.5) made a real difference in the game with a sublime assist to Podolski. He also did well to get a goal himself.
The Ox (7.0) made some good runs on the right and worked hard for his team.
Podolski (8.5) was a tireless worker in attack, scored a well-taken goal and provided an assist for his teammate.
Giroud (6.0) really struggled in attack and failed to connect well with his teammates. Spurned a great chance as well.
Ramsey (7.0) was industrious in midfield.
Andre Santos (6.5) was assured with the ball on the left hand side.
Koscielny didn’t play long enough to get a rating.
In Arsene Wenger’s post-match interview, he ran out of superlatives for the new boys and Diaby. He also calmed the storm on players on the injury list as well.
With three games gone, Arsenal has secured five points and have been catapulted to the top half of the table. An international break comes up with different qualifying fixtures on display with Arsenal sending out its fair share of ambassadors to represent their nations. We as Arsenal fans can only hope that the players will return unscathed.
Southampton will visit the Emirates and we can only hope for the run of clean sheets to continue. After three fixtures last season, Arsenal had already conceded 10 goals.
Kudos to Steve Bould and the new boys for finally arriving at the party.
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