Archive for September 3rd, 2012

Liverpool 0 – 2 Arsenal: The signs are good

751 comments September 3rd, 2012

Match Report | Highlights | Arsene’s reaction

A victory built on solid foundations…
After two games, your perception of our results depended on whether your glass was half-full or half-empty. If it was half-empty, you were concerned about our lack of goals; half-full, and you were delighted to have kept two clean sheets. Three games in, we’ve broken our goalscoring duck, but remain yet to concede. It’s a great foundation on which to build, and credit is due not just to Steve Bould, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen, but the entire team for a fantastic collective effort. To have achieved that record without Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny, and (for the past two games) Wojciech Szczesny makes it all the more impressive. To put it in context, by this point last season we had scored the same number of goals, but conceded 10 goals. It is a dramatic improvement.

Two news boys got off the mark…
And both Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla were outstanding, picking up an assist each to go with their first Arsenal goals. Podolski combines predatory instincts with a phenomenal work-rate, whilst Cazorla is perpetual motion, and perpetual class. I haven’t seen many players who’ve made such an impression on the Premier League so early. At £12.6m, I’m convinced he will prove to be one of the buys of the season.

Olivier Giroud could do with a goal…
He snatched at a fantastic opportunity in the first half, and headed over when well-placed in the second. His movement is intelligent and the signs are good, but he could do with converting one sooner rather than later.

Abou Diaby was immense in central midfield…
His performance was a heart-warming reminder of his undoubted talent. He seemed to spin away from opposition midfielders at will, turning in to space and driving at defenders throughout the game. I’ve had to chuckle at the way pundits have fallen over themselves to praise his combination of power and technique, and label Abou as the ‘new Vieira’. These are the same comparisons people made over half a decade ago, when Diaby first arrived as a teenager from Auxerre. Still, I suppose I can forgive the Match of the Day posse for getting Diaby: prior to this season, he had not started a Premier League game in over a year.

Whilst it’s great that he played to his potential yesterday, it’s important that he goes on to show some consistency. It’s become a bit of a myth that the only obstacle between Diaby and greatness is injuries. This isn’t true: even when he’s been fit, he’s been prone to drift in and out of games, or inexplicably lose confidence and subsequently form. He needs to use the hunger from his time on the sidelines to drive him on to a good run of performances. Fingers crossed he and the rest of the squad return from the international break healthy.

Alex Who?
Alongside Diaby, Mikel Arteta was immaculate in the holding role. In fact, our central midfield display was so good that the discourse about our failure to replace Alex Song almost evaporated over the course of the ninety minutes. It is, as someone has observed before, a funny old game. Had we lost this match, with one-time transfer target Nuri Sahin impressing for Liverpool, the fanbase would be up in arms. As it is, Arteta and Diaby bossed it, Sahin was anonymous, Arsenal victorious, and Song forgotten. Add that to the news that Jack Wilshere could return inside a month, and our midfield suddenly looks much healthier. Perhaps Arsene does know after all.

Is the window really shut?
It was intriguing that both Andrey Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh were left out of the matchday squad. Although I expect both to stay, the windows in Russia and Turkey are still open for a few days. If a decent offer came in, could we resist? We’ll have to wait and see.

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