Liverpool vs Arsenal: Match Notes
We may not have lost at Anfield in years but it’s still a very tough place to go and get a result. Last season’s win there was all down to van Persie and Alex Song. And on top of that, the exaggerated pessimism around the failure to sign anyone on Friday made this seem like it would be a much tougher match than it eventually turned out to be.
Liverpool’s draw against Manchester City may have brought some momentum to their side, although it was dampened by a poor midweek performance. Still, they were able to start brightly. As I’ve mentioned before, the best time to strike Arsenal is early and that was apparent by the fact that Johnson and Enrique were both higher up the pitch than their wingers. Once the team got into their stride it was a different story though. We were able to come away with the three points thanks to great teamwork up front and at the back.
A few key reasons why we did so well:
- Starting Ox in place of Gervinho was huge in deciding the outcome of this match. Gervinho, while a good dribbler, doesn’t offer the same final product. Not a lot actually came through the youngster directly although he was able to pass the ball at the right times unlike the man he replaced.
- We have now kept three clean sheets in three games. Undoubtedly, a lot of credit goes to Steve Bould. The team are playing a much deeper line so far this season. The high line in previous years has been the main reason why we’ve conceded so many goals for a top four team. You can see with Per Mertesacker, who lacks the pace to successfully keep a high line, how this deeper lying defence has brought the best out of him. One curious thing is how we haven’t been punished considering how often the team stand off opposition players in the final third. But, we can put that down to some sort of Steve Bould sorcery.
- Even though Giroud was very poor offensively, his job at the near post when defending corners has proven to be a great decision. The near post flick on is probably the deadliest strategy when taking corners as there’s so many different outcomes that can come from it. Giroud has done well so far in clearing those and forcing corners to be taken closer to Mannone who is able to deal with them quite easily.
- The way we defended the lead was another joy to watch. Towards the end of the game everyone focused on safe passing rather than recklessly pursuing another goal and getting caught on the break. When Liverpool were in possession we also saw more players get behind the ball and try to cut off as many passing options as possible.
There were some top individual performances during this match as well.
- You don’t have to be Wayne Rooney to see why Abou Diaby was the Man of the Match. He was a rock in midfield, both offensively and defensively. He was constantly sticking his foot in and winning the ball. He kept on his toes, pouncing whenever a Liverpool player miscontrolled the ball. Diaby made some great runs and passed the ball well, rarely ever losing possession.
- Podolski brought the same work rate in closing down that’s the norm in the Bundesliga. His directness has been a real breath of fresh air. The German linked up very well with the players around him and that led to the second goal.
- Cazorla was really good in possession, made some great runs and pass as well but it’s something we’ve come to expect of him.
- Arteta was brilliant defensively and even though he took a back seat relative to what we’re used to seeing, he stuck to his role really well. As I’ve mentioned on and on since Alex Song’s departure, we don’t absolutely need a classic defensive midfielder. Arteta has done the job since last season and is very capable of continuing in that role now. In fact, he gets a lot more support through Diaby than he did with Song.
- Carl Jenkinson, despite having a shaky start, really found his confidence as the game went on. Raheem Sterling was a constant threat in the opening half hour but Jenkinson was able to keep him in check for the rest of the match.