Written by Mean Lean on Sunday, 02 September 2012 19:34
Arsenal produced a professional, hard working and fighting display at Anfield this afternoon. The type of performance that the title winning sides under Arsene Wenger produced regularly in years gone by. The difference was that those teams lead by Patrick Vieira did that consistently over the course of the season, this was just one 90 minutes, or three if you include the previous two draws against more negative minded opposition.
I had a sneaky pre match suspicion that Abou Diaby would be a key man for us today, in big clashes against top teams where the game is end to end, he seems to stamp his authority on the game and that was certainly the case. He broke up Liverpool attacks, he twisted past the opposition effortlessly time and time again and more often than not found his pass.
The finger often gets pointed his way for taking too long on the ball or misplacing passes but that is usually at a time where he is still trying to get into the rhythm of playing after usually returning from another set back. The Abou Diaby we see today is the player who has had a full pre season and has started every game so far this campaign. He is finding his rhythm as are all the players who have featured since the pre season work outs.
It felt so good to celebrate Podolski's goal, a mistake from Steven Gerrard in the middle of the pitch and a couple of quick passes later saw Santi Cazorla skip to outside of the Liverpool box, his slipped pass into Podolski was perfectly weighted, we have seen Podolski in that position time and time again for Germany and FC Koln on his left foot in the left channel, the finish was never in doubt.
'He scores when he wants, he scores when he wants, Lukas Podolski, he scores when he wants' rang around Anfield from the Arsenal fans who were in superb voice.
The strongest part of our team was clearly the midfield area. Not only Abou Diaby but Mikel Arteta was amazing as the deepest midfielder. While we lose Alex Song's physical presence, we gain Arteta's distribution. He plays the game so simply but so effectively. He is always an option when we have the ball but for me, his winning of the ball was top class. I have read the view that he is wasted as the deepest player, I completely disagree and believe his game is perfect for that role. Barcelona and Spain have proved that you do not have to be strong in physique to be effective in that role. You have to have discipline, awareness and quick passing. Mikel Arteta has the whole package.
Santi Cazorla's use of the ball is magnificent. I found it amazing how often he found a way out of a situation that looked impossible. His short legs lets him have permanent control of the ball and his use of both feet allows him to find the pass on either side. One jink and pass to free Ramsey in the second half left my mouth wide open.
In the second half I was cursing him as he found his way into the box and went for the shot when better players were placed. I didn't see that the ball ended up in the net via another Reina howler. My cursing turned quickly into jubilation.
I still think he needs another creative player to play with to get the best out of him. I am looking forward to Tomas Rosicky getting on the pitch alongside him. It is a shame that Podolski isn't right footed because I would like to see Rosicky replacing Yossi Benayoun on the left cutting inside to link up with the Spaniard and still having the goal threat and width of Podolski.
It does look like the right side of the attack is still up for grabs. Gervinho, Walcott and now Chamberlain have all had the chance out there and none have yet grabbed the opportunity although Chamberlain did work very hard for the team often doubling back to help Jenkinson thwart the very impressive Sterling.
Oliver Giroud missed another good chance and had a tough time against the Liverpool center backs but still made it difficult for them. He needs a goal and hopefully he will get a lift from that. His movement is very good so I expect chances to continue to fall for him.
Carl Jenkinson and Per Mertesacker gave away a few sloppy passes which they corrected as they game went on, our crossing wasn't as accurate as we would have hoped but those were pretty much the only minor complaints that even the most gloomy supporter could find today. All areas that the squad can work on as the weeks tick by.
Defensively the whole team were fantastic and whether that is Bould and Banfield's influence or the new personnel it doesn't matter, it is just fantastic to look hard to beat once again. Three clean sheets in a row is impressive, keeping a clean sheet at Anfield is even better. Especially when you consider the amount of problems they caused Manchester City last week.
Let us hope that we can keep it going, even when the injuries start coming thick and fast.
Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere are not very far away from returning to the squad, Tomas Rosicky is also not a long way away. He was arguably our best player in the second part of last season so those are huge pluses. Hopefully we as fans can put the transfer window aside and concentrate on our squad. Perhaps it is not as bad as people think.
We put in a quality performance today but as I said at the start of this, it was just one 90 minutes. 35 more of the same and we should be just fine.
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