Arsenal v Liverpool
Kick off: Saturday April 04, 2015 – 12.45 PM BST
This game was always going to have huge ramifications on the final Premier League standings, and a dominant 4-1 win has seen us not only dent Liverpool’s top four aspirations, but keep the pressure up on Chelsea at the top of the table.
There weren’t any unexpected changes, with Mesut Özil returning to the side after illness, and Per Mertesacker and Hector Bellerin taking their places back.
The only real shock was that Wojciech Szczesny was absent from the bench, with Matt Macey replacing the Pole – who apparently injured his rib, according to Arsenal’s official Twitter account.
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We took the game by the scruff of the neck straight from kick-off, and our pressure high up the pitch was forcing mistakes from the visitors.
A slick passing move looked to have potential, but Alexis Sanchez dragged his shot horribly wide. Santi Cazorla was then found in the box, but his shot was kept out by a superb save from Simon Mignolet.
Liverpool were rattled, and were constantly losing possession in dangerous positions. Aaron Ramsey picked up the ball after a mistake from former Gunner Kolo Toure, and was through on goal where you would have put money on him to score.
His shot was parried by Mignolet however, and it was cleared off the toes of Cazorla on the follow up.
Brendan Rodgers’ side finally settled down with 15 minutes gone, and our high line looked vulnerable to the pace of Raheem Sterling.
Our defence was split when Lazar Markovic made a great forward run, and looked to be one-on-one with David Ospina. He opted to pass across goal to Sterling however, and his poorly weighted ball eluded the England international; drifting out of danger.
The visitors had a couple of other half-chances over the next ten minutes, but couldn’t convert them into goals.
Özil’s creativity was causing Liverpool real problems, and he was spraying balls all over the place. He picked out Aaron Ramsey on the right, who played an underlapping Hector Bellerin into the box with a simple ball.
Liverpool’s Spanish left-back Alberto Moreno made sure to show his compatriot inside onto his weaker side, but Bellerin had no problem curling a fantastic effort into the far corner with his left-foot. His second senior goal, making it 1-0 at the Emirates.
Moments later we doubled our lead, with Liverpool gifting us a free-kick in a dangerous position. Mesut Özil stepped up, bending an effort into the far corner, Mignolet diving but failing to keep it out.
The Belgian’s positioning was poor – as was that of his wall – but it was an excellent set-piece from the German World Cup winner.
We looked to be heading into half time with a 2-0 lead, which – as the cliché tells us – is always a dangerous scoreline. Alexis Sanchez had other ideas however, making it three goals in eight minutes, and essentially putting the game to bed before the break.
The Chilean has been struggling for goals in the second half of the season, with just one goal in 12 appearances before today. He bucked that trend with a powerful strike, rifling it into the roof of the net as Mignolet flapped helplessly.
Toure had dived recklessly, giving Sanchez the time and space to shoot. The keeper arguably should have done better as well, but the sheer power of the shot meant he was unable to react quick enough. 3-0.
There was a surprising change early in the second half, with Laurent Koscielny replaced by Gabriel Paulista. It didn’t look to be serious, so hopefully the Frenchman was withdrawn as a precaution.
Olivier Giroud had a great chance to score shortly after, and with the form he’s in you wouldn’t have bet against him.
Özil put a great cross into the box, and Giroud got his head on it to direct it goalwards. Mignolet made a superb reaction save to deny him however, palming the ball over the bar.
Aaron Ramsey picked up a knock early on, and struggled on for a few minutes. He was eventually replaced by Mathieu Flamini, who sat back alongside Francis Coquelin to give us more defensive stability.
Danny Welbeck then replaced Özil, with Theo Walcott yet again failing to feature.
Bellerin marred what had been a superb performance from the 20-year-old, by bringing Sterling down foolishly in the box. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot, and Jordan Henderson made it 3-1 – despite David Ospina getting a hand to it.
Bellerin was arguably lucky to still be on the pitch, as he was already on a yellow card.
Welbeck looked dangerous after his introduction, and the visitors were struggling with his pace and power. His decision making was poor however, and he missed a couple of good opportunities to set up his teammates.
The England international was fouled by Emre Can late on, with the German sliding in rashly from behind. He was shown his second yellow card of the evening, and Liverpool were reduced to ten men for the final minutes.
It should have been 4-1 late on, with Cazorla hitting the post after some excellent build up play.
Moments later we did make it four though, with Giroud hammering the final nail into Liverpool’s coffin with an emphatic finish.
He latched onto a pass from Alexis Sanchez, before cutting inside onto his left-foot. The in-form-forward lashed a shot towards the far corner – Simon Mignolet beaten all ends up.
It was a fantastic finish to a fantastic match, with Giroud making it ten in ten, and scoring for the sixth game in a row.
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