It was another stunning come-back as Arsenal secured maximum points courtesy of a superb stoppage time volley by captain and talisman Robin van Persie to end the tie 2-1 to the gunners. While the Dutchman did receive the man of the match award, he was quick to acknowledge the contribution of Szczesny who simply put had the performance of his life and was the sole reason Arsenal stayed in the match.
Admittedly Arsenal played second fiddle for most of the match, but it was one of those wins that Arsenal have often lacked in recent seasons. The ability to win ugly is a key trait for any successful team and surely the gunners will take heart from such a crucial victory. From the desperate defending to Szczesny’s unbelievable saves and lastly to Van Persie’s incredible winner, it was almost too good to be true.
If anything the result showed how important Van Persie is to Arsenal and as Wenger rightly said in the post-match conference the gunners must do everything they can to keep him at the Emirates. The Dutchman converted his only two chances of the game into goals, which goes to show how clinical the striker is. Only Van Persie could have scored that spectacular left-footed volley. Plaudits must also go to Song, who yet again provided a superb assist.
The win has left us outright in fourth position, with Chelsea losing to 1-0 to West Brom and now trailing Tottenham by only four points ahead of their clash with Manchester United. Although we have a tough second-leg match against AC Milan this coming mid-week, we should enjoy such an incredible victory!
on what the victory means…
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It was vital for us to win the game. Liverpool had a very good first half and we were not in the game – what was flattering for us was to be 1-1 at half time. The second half was much more level. We had some good chances as well, they had maybe one from Martin Kelly. But they had no clear-cut chances in the second half. They had to win the game, and we know that we have Van Persie who can deliver something special. Overall it was not one of our best games, but we refused to give in and we played as well as we could. Our goalkeeper and centre forward made the difference.
on playing better in the second half…
I don’t know why. It is down to the quality of Liverpool [in the first half] and everybody was away the whole week [on international duty]. Song came back on Friday morning, Gervinho and Benayoun as well. Liverpool played with a rhythm and pace above us in the first half and our fluency was not there at all, we gave them too much room. But as long as you are not killed off in the Premier League, you always have a chance as every team has quality strikers to score goals.
on Wojciech Szczesny’s performance…
It is good that he had a performance like that, because he had a little bit of a difficult period in January. He has shown his potential and I like that he was brave as well. He had a lot of kicking to do and a lot of coming out to do, and he didn’t make a mistake. At 21 years old he is a great talent, he is learning his job but because he is a great talent, he learns quickly.
on Robin van Persie’s value…
I must say we will do anything to keep him. I cannot say much more because I have said that many times. I am very proud that he has grown after having seen him arriving here timid, and today being the player and leader he has become. He is playing under big pressure in every game because he knows he has to score. He has shown exceptional development, not only as a player but as a human being. He is up there with the best players in the world.
on Mikel Arteta’s injury…
As I sit here now, he is in hospital at the moment and we have no news.
on Abou Diaby…
The bad news of the day is that Diaby is injured and did his hamstring. Benayoun has a small hamstring problem, Gibbs has a problem. We look decimated after the game. I don’t know who will be available on Tuesday night. Maybe I will play with six strikers as we have to score goals!
on Liverpool’s penalty…
I wasn’t happy but then I have been told it was a penalty on television. I haven’t seen it yet. [The follow-up save from Kuyt’s penalty] was the save of the game from Wojciech.
on trying to catch Tottenham…
I always said the target this season was to be in the top four. Mathematically it is possible, but let’s go step by step and see what happens. When you see that Liverpool – who I believe are a very, very good team – are seventh in the league, it shows how difficult it is in this league, how big the battle is for the top four and how each game can change very quickly.
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Walcott Rosicky Benayoun
Van Persie (c)
Wojciech Szczesny | 9.5: Was unlucky to concede another penalty as the result of a theatrical dive for the second successive week. But quickly made amends with an amazing double save and thereafter made a string of incredible saves to keep Arsenal in the match. Amazing performance.
Bacary Sagna | 7.0: Had a good balance between attack and defence and was the one to whip in the cross for Van Persie’s first. Handled himself well against Downing.
Laurent Koscielny | 6.5: Was extremely unlucky to score an own-goal and at times struggled with the movement and skill of Suarez. Overall a pretty solid performance though.
Thomas Vermalen | 7.0: Had great positioning and awareness and was much more solid today then last week. Looks to be returning to his old self.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.5: Was more defensive minded tonight and looks to be regaining his match fitness and sharpness. At times let Liverpool players deliver dangerous crosses, but showed some exceptional touch like picking out Walcott for his chance.
Alexandre Song | 7.0: Looked a little over-run playing as the anchor-man in midfield due to Liverpool’s constant waves of attack, although on offence Song was superb. Made a couple of defence splitting passes and of course provided the beautiful chip over the top for Van Persie’s second.
Mikel Arteta | 6.0: Distribution as usual was spot on, although he never really threatened and made any incisive passes. Was stretchered off after suffering what looked like a severe concussion. (52′)
Tomas Rosicky | 5.0: Unfortunately could not replicate his performance last week against Tottenham. Wasn’t really influential in the game.
Theo Walcott | 5.5: The Englishman was largely absent for most of the match and made wrong choices. Tested Reina a couple of times, but was a disappointing performance.
Robin van Persie | 9.0: Captain Vantastic strikes again. Superb brace secured with his only two chances of the match. His match-winner was simply amazing.
Yossi Benayoun | 3.0: Was totally absent from the match and should have been withdrawn much earlier for either Gervinho or Chamberlain. (74′)
- Notable substitions
Abou Diaby | 6.0: Replaced Arteta after he was withdrawn after getting a concussion. Got a good-shot off, but was soon withdrawn after suffering yet another injury. (52′ on, 81′ off)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 6.0: Showed glimpses of quality, including a thumping shot that went just wide of Reina’s goal. (81′)
Gervinho | 6.0: Looked a little lost when he came on, but after Van Persie’s goal did well to retain possession and wind the clock down. (74′)
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