Monday, 4 November 2013

Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool: Rosic-key to our success

A Santi Cazorla volley and an Aaron Ramsey screamer ensured that Arsenal clinched three seemingly convincing points against Liverpool. And while there are still problems in this squad that were evident in this game, no one can deny that the pros largely outshone the cons on a memorable night for the Gunners.

It all started at the 19th minute through a Santi strike. I thought that Arteta's pass to Sagna to start up the move was really good. He is often criticized for playing the ball too square and slowing the game down, but that sure wasn't the case when he placed an inch-perfect ball to Bac. Sagna's cross was good (Is it just me, or has his crossing markedly improved after the Dortmund game?), Santi played a one-two with the post and rocketed it in. A good move wrapped up in some style.

However, if the first goal could be classified as good, the second had to be called world-class. Olivier Giroud held up the play successfully at the right flank, (once again, and he's getting really good at that now), and he played a back pass to Ozil. Mesut flicked it onto the path of Ramsey, who fired an exceptional strike into the top corner, leaving Mignolet absolutely no chance. This was the kind of strike a player would only attempt at such sky-high confidence, but he actually pulled off that shot. And while that goal did show some selfish play, it was just reward for our domination over them.

A happy manager said:

"Today was an important win for the team, for the club, and overall nobody would dispute that we deserved to win this game. It was vital to win, I said that before the game and I don't change my mind, because had we not won people would say 'yes, Arsenal at home they cannot win the big games'. It is done, in a convincing way. We had a good solidarity, a good focus."

A simply stunning result where we maintained good control over the game and found the goals through convincing and effective play. And while we deserved to win this game, I'm a bit surprised as to how many Gooners quickly forgot how easily we could've lost it.

It is a myth that Mertesacker and Koscielny managed to keep out the threats of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The SAS were a constant danger throughout the game, and were unlucky or not clinical enough to not score. Our defence was porous, and if luck wasn't on our side, we would've easily shipped in goals. Had a Henderson howler, a disallowed goal, Suarez grazing the post, a mistimed Sturridge header, Szczesny's rebounded kick and another Suarez miss gone the other side of the post, we would've convincingly lost this game for sure.

I just don't feel that most of our back four deserves credit for our win, because they were pretty below par. Suarez and Sturridge were finding spaces and causing constant problems for us, and we wouldn't have kept our clean sheet if Szczesny and Sagna weren't at their reliable best. Szczesny was simply out of this world in the game, claiming crosses and punching headers away. Indeed, if he hadn't almost gifted Liverpool a goal through a deflection, I would've rated him a Perfect 10. If rumours are to be believed, he has been given a 4 year contract worth £100,000 per week. Saturday's performance thoroughly justifies that bumper deal.

Sagna - I have no idea why he hasn't been given a contract yet. He played his 250th game in an Arsenal shirt with remarkable consistency once again. One of his few flaws - crossing - seem to be taken care of at the moment. He came back from two long term injuries and a disaster of a last season to continue being one of the best right backs in the country. I'd even go so far as to say that he has been one of our unsung heroes this season. There is actually no valid reason left to not give him a deal anymore.

While Sagna and Szczesny were at their best, I felt that the game was truly won in the midfield. Arteta covered the absence of Flamini and showed how much he still has to give for the club, Ramsey capped off another energetic display with a goal and Santi Cazorla showed glimpses that he was going back to his best. It shows how brilliant our midfield is that our worst midfielder on the pitch against Liverpool was considered to be Ozil, who got his 150th career assist for Aaron Ramsey's goal.

However, it was Tomas Rosicky who certainly stole the show. His unpredictable runs, sublime one-two's and dribbling skills made me wonder if he was getting younger every year. He was all over Liverpool, and allowed players like Gerrard no space. The Mozart was definitely the man of the match for me, and I hope he doesn't get injured any time soon.

Finally, a word to our fans, who were brilliant on this memorable night. I had expressed my doubts that we weren't turning this place into a fortress, and that the away fans were silencing us too often. Oh, not a sign of that was seen in the match. Like the entirety of Liverpool's midfield, the away fans were largely silenced by a rocking Emirates Stadium, who got behind the team they love from the start and saw us march on to victory.

This win and the Spuds drawing against Everton (hahaha) means that we are five whole points clear at the top of the table, bettering our Invincibles season by getting 25 points of a possible 30. And while this victory wiped off the memories of that damaging Capital One Cup loss, I hardly need not emphasize how important the next match is going to be for our Champions League qualification hopes. Playing Borussia Dortmund at an intimidating Westfalenstadion is certainly the kind of game that can dent our current feelings of ecstasy.

However, more on that on Wednesday. I'd just like to add three words:

Mind. The. GAP.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )