Arsenal's 4-1 victory against Liverpool yesterday was my kind of performance. The display had everything needed to win a big game.
We had repaid Liverpool for last season's defeat in more than just the scoreline.
At Anfield last season Arsenal were pressed and squeezed into submission, we were not able to build our game up from the back and were punished. The tables were turned yesterday lunchtime.
I had expected Liverpool to start quickly and aggressively, I had worried that they would start the quicker of the two teams given the importance of the game for them. Thankfully I couldn't have been more wrong.
Arsene Wenger knowing full well how Liverpool pass out from the back played high up the pitch including Aaron Ramsey starting from the right of attack. I assumed that we might play Ramsey ahead of Welbeck to add another midfield presence but I assumed that it would be Özil starting wide.
But watching how the opening half unfolded you could understand fully why the high energy Ramsey was one of the furthest forward chasing down Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho whenever they were about to receive a pass. Alexis Sanchez and Oliver Giroud were also fantastic at this and poor Liverpool just could not get going.
Alexis had dragged a shot wide in the early seconds of the game but it was Aaron Ramsey who had the first real chance after Kolo Toure spent far too much time on the ball before being dispossessed, his left foot shot was tame and easily saved when really he should have scored.
Tactically Arsene Wenger was spot on and the following conversation on Twitter this morning just about sums it up perfectly for me.
@Stillberto I happen to think AW's disinclination to *talk* about tactics is the root cause of the belief he doesn't do any...— Alastair Brookshaw (@albrookshawAFC) April 5, 2015
@albrookshawAFC exactly this. Unlike Rodgers, Benitez & Jose, who'll give you a blow by blow account of everything they did.— Tim Stillman (@Stillberto) April 5, 2015
Our first 17 minutes or so was almost perfect but we could not find the breakthrough. Typically we gifted Liverpool the best chance of the game when both Koscielny and Mertesacker were caught both marking Sterling allowing Lazar Markovic to run unmarked through towards Ospina. I actually think his decision to roll the ball across to Sterling was the correct choice, it was the execution that was not up to scratch and Sterling could not connect to roll the ball in from a few yards out.
That proved to be the turning point, just as it had been when Kondogbia scored against the run of play at the Emirates a few weeks ago.
On 37 minutes Hector Bellerin opened the scoring by taking Ramsey's pass, body swerving past Alberto Moreno who really should be doing better in that position but the way Bellerin curled the ball around Toure into the corner with his weaker foot shows that this guy has real class.
Bacary Sagna was an exceptional Arsenal right back, our best defensively for as long as I can remember but he used to frustrate the hell out of me in the final third. When Bellerin attacks the box it is like having another creative option. Two goals already in an Arsenal shirt and you'd think there are plenty more to come in future.
Bellerin had opened the floodgates and three minutes later Mesut Özil curled in a perfectly placed free kick. A few people had suggested that Özil had been placing the ball into that exact space during the warm up. Just before half time the game was sealed with what was my goal of the afternoon.
Bellerin fired a pass into Ramsey who spun and played a quick pass to Alexis who nipped the ball away from Toure; took a touch and rifled the ball powerfully into the roof of the net past the flailing left arm of Mignolet. The speed of the move was breathtaking and that would have made it almost impossible for Liverpool to defend.
I was intrigued to know how we would approach the second half after going in 3-0 to the good. Arsene showed the teams flexibility as the game plan had changed. We sat deep and allowed Liverpool to have the ball in safe areas, when they moved the ball towards our area they were met by a sea of red and white shirts.
Daniel Sturridge had come on at half time which meant Sterling moving to the left of the pitch and a battle against Hector Bellerin. It was a very intriguing contest as both players are roughly the same age and both have blistering pace. Bellerin mistimed one tackle in the box on 76 which gave Liverpool a glimmer of hope. Henderson took the kick and scored. You can feel that the team have matured though, in years past everyone would have felt panicked by this. Nervous energy being passed between fans and players alike, yet yesterday we went about our work professionally and did not give Liverpool another way back into the game.
Any hopes of Liverpool getting back into the game were completely lost when Emre Can scissor tackled Danny Welbeck for his second booking of the afternoon. All that was left was for Oliver Giroud to get his customary goal, racing onto a decisive Alexis pass to side step the hapless Toure before curling into the far corner spectacularly.
It was my favourite performance of the season, certainly my most enjoyable from a aesthetical point of view. It was also great to see us manage the game so well in the second half.
We are currently second in the table and are the best team in the league on current form. When the team hadn't clicked or the squad had a list of injuries to deal with, the manager was criticised regularly so it is only right that he gets all the credit for the run that we are on.
I would absolutely love us to beat Chelsea and Mourinho even if it makes no difference to where the title ends up this season. But that's for the near future.
Seven league victories in a row, long may it continue.
More Post Match Reading: Liverpool Q&A
The Podcast should be out tomorrow. Apologies for the delay, it's Easter and people have been eating chocolate and stuff. Good enough excuse for you?