The Gunners recorded a well-deserved victory over Liverpool in a hard fought match at Anfield to record their first three-point haul and first goals of the season, as well as another clean sheet! The win will no doubt do wonders for their confidence and also sends out a strong statement to their Premier League rivals that Arsenal should not be written off after the departures of Robin van Persie and Alex Song. Steve Bould also looks to be having a massive influence in defence as well.
New boys Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski opened their goal-scoring accounts with two superbly constructed goals, where both the Spaniard and the German were funnily enough the providers as well. Both players performed magnificently today with Cazorla again the creative hub and Podolski willing to put in the hard yards to get into space for a pass or drop back and help out Gibbs in defence.
While it is true the new boys will get a lot of plaudits for this match, I felt our other two midfielders were just as integral to Arsenal’s success today. I do admit, I was dubious over whether Diaby would regain his form after being out for so long, but today he proved what an immense player he is. Strong on the ball, technically brilliant and seemingly full of confidence the Frenchman played out of his skin today and deservedly received the MOTM award.
Plaudits must also go to Mikel Arteta who so often goes about his business behind the scenes. The Spaniard made a number of key tackles and interceptions playing deep in midfield and was always available to distribute with his trademark accuracy, recording a 95% success rate for the match. Both Diaby and Arteta made the absence of the departed Song a distant memory.
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Although there are many positives, a small negative is obviously our crossing ability. Today I found myself quite sympathetic for Giroud. He put a great shift and worked his socks off, but was let down by poor crossing. The ball basically never cleared the first defender or else was pumped way too long. Giroud is excellent in the air and that strength should be used. Today his relatively meager influence was unnoticeble with midfield playing so well, but hopefully he is able to open his account soon to get his confidence up.
We now go into the international break on a high, but will come back to face a Southampton team that has been cruelly deprived of points against both Manchester clubs after leading late in the match. Hopefully Arsenal can feed off their low morale and also build on this performance and record another win before their high-profile clash with Manchester City.
on the performance…
Overall I am pleased with the quality of our performance, offensively and defensively. In our first two games you could feel some potential but we lacked a little spark and that is getting better now. We come out of the game with the feeling we had a good performance but there is also a good potential and team energy and that is always very interesting because there is something to work on.
on goals for the new signings…
Everybody understood very quickly that Cazorla would not take six months to settle and Podolski is deadly when there is a chance, you see that in training. He showed good team work as well today, and I am pleased for them. Just Giroud needs a goal, but as long as the team wins we know that will come.
on another clean sheet…
As long as that record lasts, the more everybody does defensively because they want to keep the record going. Football is always a good lesson in humility because we had the No 1 and two goalkeepers out and went to Stoke and Liverpool and haven’t conceded a goal. You never know in the game but when you have a good work rate and spirit in the team, you have a chance.
on the international break…
It is not very welcome for us but that is the fixture list, we can’t decide about that.
on Brendan Rodgers’ task…
I faced that [pressure] last year in the same period. He has just arrived at the club, the expectation level is very high but you just want to tell people to stay confident and stand behind the man. When it comes to a big club it is important for him to feel that the people around him trust him and I am sure he will turn it around.
on Abou Diaby…
You can see it is massive for us because he is a tremendous football player. He has absolutely everything you want in midfield. He hasn’t played for a year but he had a good pre-season where we had him 45 minutes every three days and now he looks in good shape. There is more to come from him but what he has shown today is very good.
on whether he was worried about him…
I was worried about him highly but I always stood behind him because not only is he a fantastic football player but a fantastic guy as well. Let’s hope he survives the break because the national team travel a lot, play two games in four days and let’s hope he comes back in good shape.
on Jack Wilshere…
He is looking very good in training. Close? It depends what you call close. I would still give him a month. But it looks very good. In a month he should be starting to play again.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Chamberlain Cazorla Podolski
Vito Mannone | 6.5: Looked uneasy under the high-ball, but dealt with what Liverpool threw at him in terms of shots on goal, particularly Shelvy’s thumping effort late in the match.
Carl Jenkinson | 7.0: Jenkinson has definitely improved from last season and looked strong defensively today. Perhaps was out of position on a few occasions but recovered excellently and put in a few well-timed sliding tackles.
Per Mertesacker | 6.5: A surprise start, but obviously Wenger did not want to risk Koscielny after only just coming back from injury. The big German struggled with the pace and trickery of Suarez and co, but managed to do just enough.
Thomas Vermalen | 8.0: Totally bossed Suarez and looked as solid as ever at the back making a number of key clearances. Perhaps hit a few of his forward passes a bit too hard but was defensively strong all game. (90′)
Kieran Gibbs | 6.5: Was not really tested defensively and got into great positions with his forays down the flank, but unfortunately was poor with his final ball, particularly crossing.
Mikel Arteta | 7.5: Kept things ticking over in the heart of midfield with his trademark accuracy and put in a number of key tackles and interceptions. Great game from the Spaniard.
Abou Diaby| 8.0: A very impressive performance from the deserved MOTM. Strong, technically gifted and full of confidence the Frenchman dominated in midfield and hardly put a foot wrong.
Santi Cazorla | 8.0: Again was Arsenal’s one of Arsenal’s most effective players and the creative hub of the team. Provided a great through ball for Podolski to open his goal-scoring account and then turned goal-scorer himself after a great one-two with Podolski.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 6.0: Was relatively quiet tonight, but put in a decent shift to have a great battle with young Sterling. (73′)
Lukas Podolski | 8.0: Put in a huge effort today. After Gerrard’s misplaced pass started the counter-attack and sprinted 50 metres to receive the ball back and grab his first goal. Also put in a huge effort on defence, getting back and helping out Gibbs. (82′)
Olivier Giroud | 6.5: Was always willing up front, but was let down by poor crossing. Should have put the goal on a tee for Gibbs instead of shooting himself after he was put through by Diaby.
- No Notable substitutions
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