Arsenal 2 (Cazorla 19, Ramsey 59) – 0 Liverpool
Man of the Match – Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Arsenal came out of their supposed ‘first real test’ of the season, by silencing the critics and skeptics all over, by beating a vastly improved Liverpool side comprehensively by two goals, in an enthralling end to end encounter at the Emirates.
With Mathieu Flamini out injured, and Jack Wilshere a last minute absentee with an inflamed ankle, Arsene Wenger started with a midfield of Arteta, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ozil and Cazorla.
The game started brightly, with both sides looking to get a good hold off the ball. Simon Mignolet looked nervous right from the onset, and almost gave away two goals to the Gunners, with poor clearances. Liverpool had a great chance, when Jordan Henderson robbed Cazorla off the ball, and ran unchallenged to Arsenal’s penalty box, before scuffing his shot and chance poorly.
Arsenal were slowly settling into the game, with Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky giving Liverpool left back Aly Cissokho a tough time. The Olivier Giroud vs Martin Skrtel was turning out to be an interesting one, as Arsenal piled in the crosses.
Arsenal got the dues for their persistent crossing, as a Sagna cross into the danger area was met by a header from the smallest man on the pitch, Santi Cazorla, with Giroud and Skrtel too busy trying to get the better of each other. The header struck the post, and rebounded right into the path of the Spaniard who made absolutely no mistake in scoring his first goal of the season.
Arsenal were looking more and more dangerous every time they thrust forward. The combination of Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla was working like a dream, with Ozil playing more on the right hand side. Tomas Rosicky was working tirelessly in not allowing Liverpool get into their stride. Aaron Ramsey had a couple of his shots blocked.
Liverpool’s main attacking threat, Luis Suarez, an Arsenal target for a reported £40million and one pound, was having a quiet night, before he was pulled down by Sagna, when the Uruguyan got the better of the Frenchman. Suarez quickly restarted play, and the visiting side had the ball in the back of the net, only for the referee to call it back, to have Sagna booked.
Even on the free-kicks, Arsenal were playing a dangerously high game, with former Arsenal boy Kolo Toure going close to scoring against his old club. A quick paced half ended with Arsenal leading 1-0.
Brendan Rodgers replaced the awful Cissokho with creative midfielder Phillipe Coutinho. It seemed to be a good change, as the forward line of Suarez and Sturridge looked more dangerous than it was in the previous half. However, they were up against the pair of Mertesacker and Koscielny, who provided some decisive defensive moments, to deny Liverpool their equalizer.
On the other end, Olivier Giroud had a golden chance to make it 2-0, when a poor back pass from Kolo Toure ended at the Frenchman’s feet, but his chip over an onrushing Mignolet only found the side netting. Arsenal worked out another well built move, to feed Giroud, but his shot this time was tame and Mignolet saved.
The Emirates ruptured into joy, minutes later, as Ozil, making a run from the right, played a ball to Ramsey, who produced a moment of magic, as he scored from 25 yards out. The Welshman had his 10th goal of the season in all competitions.
Arsenal looked to shut out Liverpool by replacing Rosicky, Cazorla and the injured Gibbs with Monreal, Vermaelen and Jenkinson. The visiting side however did have some moments, first when Sturridge’s shot was smothered by Szczesny. Then, a Suarez shot from an acute angle went inches wide.
Liverpool offered little attacking threat after that, and Arsenal sealed a fine win over one of their title rivals. I was particularly impressed by the work rates shown by the senior players in the team, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta, both of whom were tireless and hardworking.
The defence was unflinching, making an absolute joke of the SAS partnership. Arsenal won the crucial midfield battle, giving little time and space for Liverpool to work on. Two big fixtures before the international break, Dortmund and Manchester United,and we shall have the answers to more questions.
Jai Arsenal 🙂