Arsenal 2, Liverpool 0

Posted: September 2, 2012 in Arsenal Reviews
Tags: , ,

Miki’s facial expression says, “how good is THIS guy, eh?”

For all the constant consternation & sniping at how Arsenal FC are run from pundits & media talking heads, it is always an absolute pleasure when you beat one of the supposed intelligentsia’s usual darlings like Liverpool.  Last year the Scousers were led by one of their supposed saviors, Kenny Dalglish.  They’ve spent tons of money in the last several years on players, including Englishmen which were supposed to be the new nucleus of the club, including one supposed rising English star (LOL!) in Andy Carroll.  And last year they won the Carling Cup.  So, what’s the problem?

Today we beat their ass, 2-nil, they currently lie in the relegation zone in 18th place after today & have changed managers, those several Englishmen brought in to be the nucleus now prop up the bench, they’ve shipped out their record English striker & are these days reduced to spouting off how many times they’ve been champions of Europe to sides that defeat them as that means anything in the game just played.  That’s the problem.  The Roman Empire was once great too, Liverpudlians.  Those creaking & crashing sounds you hear are the Visigoths at the gates, dopes.

Laurent Koscielny came back from injury today but Arsène Wenger continued with Per Mertesacker to partner Thomas Vermaelen in the center of defense but Wojciech Szczęsny & Łukasz Fabiański once again missed out through injury giving another start to Vito Mannone in net.  Interestingly, Wenger went with Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of both Gervinho & Theo Walcott on the right.  There was speculation last night that The Ox would start but many were guessing it would be in Abou Diaby’s stead.It would be interesting to know if Le Boss wanted something tactically specific from The Ox or if Walcott is being a bit punished for the ongoing contractual spat.

Either way, we started out like this:

Arsenal Starting Lineup
Mannone

Jenkinson — Mertesaecker — Vermaelen (c) — Gibbs

Diaby — Arteta

Cazorla

Oxlade-Chamberlain — Giroud — Podolski.

Bench:   Martínez, Koscielny, André Santos,  Coquelin, Ramsey, Gervinho, Walcott

Liverpool enjoyed most of the possession throughout the match but this new look Arsenal looks much more comfortable & compact in their defensive shape in the early days of the season.  Thank you, Steve Bould?  However, you wouldn’t have known this fact unless you’re watching the matches.  If you’re relying on the media, the story prior to the matchwas still “Arsenal haven’t scored a goal since Robin van Persie left.”  Well, that fortunately changed today.

On the half-hour mark & following a period where Liverpool were threatening, mainly through youngster Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard played a poor ball in the Liverpool final third which Arsenal took advantage of to take the lead.  The Gunners used the turnover to mount a swift counterattack like the Arsenal of old.  The ball found Santi Cazorla outside the area & he in turn played in Lukas Podolski nicely on the left & the German fired home to open up his Arsenal account.  You can catch at the end of the link the humorous song sung by traveling Gunners of, “He’s Lukas Podolski! He scores when he wants! He scores when he wants!”  The song being an obvious thumbing of the nose to all the punditry’s hammering of the Robin van Persie/lack of Arsenal goals saga.  Well played, Gunner fans.

We took the 1-nil lead into the break & within minutes of the restart Martin Skrtel hacked down Abou Diaby rightly earning a yellow card in the process.  The French midfielder was outstanding on the day, evoking comparisons to Patrick Vieira throughout the Arsenalverse.  Not quite sure about that but the 6’4″, oft-injured Diaby was certainly my & most people’s Man of the Match as the Frenchman put in a performance that made you realize why Wenger has been patient with him.  Someone even joked (or was it a joke?) on Twitter that “City united & Barca all with bids for Diaby in January.”  If he can stay healthy, Diaby can really help us in the center of the park.  He was terrific in his movement, his passing was stellar (91% on the day) & was a force in the tackle today (with 4).

Also in the second half, Liverpool began to look for free kicks & penalties at just about every foray forward.  Led by cheat extraordinaire & diving supremo, Luís Suárez, Liverpool nearly won a PK from Mertesacker as the big German made some contact on the Uruguayan inside the box.  El Perro Langosta, of course made it look like a sniper hit, flinging himself to the ground but luckily Howard Webb wasn’t buying it.  Did you get the envelope, Howie?  Ok, thanks, remember us later in the year too.  Suárez is such a diving cheat I’m thinking of changing my nickname for him of El Perro Langosta, or “the lobster dog,” to La Puta Engañando, or “the cheating cunt/bitch/whore.”

Despite Suárez’s cuntiness, it was Arsenal that found the next goal.  In the 68th minute it was Cazorla & Podolski combining again, but this time it was Santi Cazorla’s turn to net his first goal when he rifled home at the near post with a massive helping from Pepe Reina.  I don’t want to hear it complaints of a soft goal though, because as many ‘keepers that come in & have a blinder against us in the last few years (I’m looking at you, Ali Al-Habsi), we’re still owed some of these kind of goals even with the type of performance that moron from West Brom put in against us in the last match of last season.

After going up 2-0, Liverpool obviously pushed for a goal but the newfound ease & calm in the Arsenal defense kept out the Scousers time & time again.  There were a few hairy moments, such as when Vito Mannone failed to claim a corner with two attempts, but luckily his defense was on hand to eventually help get the ball cleared.  The Italian did make a terrific late save to keep the clean sheet unblemished, however, so credit where it’s due.

For all the talk of lack of goals prior to this match, I was heartened in the opening matches with the new defensive shape we’ve had & that will go a longer way to helping us reach higher mountains this year than trying to find a RvP 2.0.  Because the goals will come & if they don’t, we’ll just have to dust off the old “boring, boring Arsenal!” & “1-nil to the Arsenal!” chants.

Gifs of the goals in case the vid links are yanked by YouTube: Podolski 30‘ & Cazorla 68′

WhoScored.com’s match report.  Don’t let it fool you.  Scousers will argue they were much better, but they’re both wrong & stupid.  Most of their shots were hopeful efforts well over & we stole the ball form them often.

Player Ratings
Vito Mannone (7)- Made a couple of nice saves but is definitely too hesitant at times.  He definitely looks a backup ‘keeper at this level.  Definitely wouldn’t want to play a whole season with him in net.

Carl Jenkinson (7)- Faced Liverpool youngster, Raheem Sterling, who was arguably Liverpool’s best threat but overall, acquitted himself well.  Jenks still can get himself out of position at times but he’s still only 20 and learning, after all.

Kieran Gibbs (7)- Another solid performance from Gibbs & looks to have solidified the left back spot as his own.  If we’re being picky, he could still provide better service going forward.

Per Mertesacker (7.5)- For all the cries of lack of pace (which I won’t argue with), the skyscraper of a German reads the game & tackles well for a big man as he’s way more athletic than his often, partially clumsy look would make it seem.  Nearly got conned by Suárez for a PK though.

Thomas Vermaelen (7.5)- The Verminator played a terrific game making a several key tackles & an outstanding blocked shot on Suárez (I think).  Definitely growing into the responsibility of the captaincy with every game.  Keep it up, TV5!

Abou Diaby (8)- Diaby was the Man of the Match.  Didn’t score, didn’t provide an assist but definitely bossed the midfield at times, often letting Liverpool come forward before expertly tackling the ball away in partnership with Mikel Arteta.  Will be a key cog in the side if he can stay healthy.

Mikel Arteta (7.5)-  Alex Song who?  Arteta had yet another brilliant performance as the deepest midfielder.  The Spaniard isn’t the beefiest midfielder in the world by any means, but his athleticism & technique make him an excellent tackler.  His excellent reading of the game helps out in that regard as well.  I forgot what we bought him for last year but he’s been worth every penny.

Santi Cazorla (7.5)- Once again had a very good game.  He definitely is dynamo in the final third as he likes to pop up all over the place and make runs both with & without the ball.  AND HE ISN’T AFRAID TO SHOOT.  Thank the Maker, it’s about time we get a midfielder who isn’t afraid to shoot.  Are you & your nut-hanging fanboi watching, Alex Hleb & Mazza from the old Arsenal America board?  Watch Cazorla if you’re an aspiring attacking midfielder.  He’s how you’re supposed to play- full of energy, two-footed, unlimited passing range, dribbling skills & shooting boots.  He will likely be our Player of the Year.  Book it.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (6.5)-  The Ox had a slightly ineffective game going forward but I’ll bump him up to a 6.5 because he never failed to track back & work hard in defense.  This kid will be special though if he can keep his feet on the ground & head out of the clouds (ahem, Msr. Walcott), there is no doubt about that.

Olivier Giroud (5)- Giroud missed another sitter in the first half, this time on his preferred left foot, and skied a golden chance with a header in the second half.  The hunky striker just needs to relax.  You can definitely tell he’s thinking too much at the moment trying to make a good impression.  Just play, Ollie.  Your goals will come.

Lukas Podolski (7.5)- Maiden voyage for this epic song today.  Won’t reach RvP’s goal total of 30 last year but here’s a secret I’m going to let you in on- HE DOESN’T HAVE TO.  Get us anywhere near 20, Lukas & we’ll go a long way with our new defensive nous.

Substitutions
Aaron Ramsey (6)- Didn’t do much.  Nothing great, nothing bad; put in a shift closing the game down.

André Santos (nr)- Also didn’t do much.  Came on late  &pretty much did well not to get arrested for speeding…

Laurent Koscielny (nr)- Came on at the stroke of full time for Vermaelen who had been kicked by Steven Gerrard in a rough (but fair) tackle. No time to do anything really.

Unfortunately, one of the accursed international breaks is upon us so we will have to wait for the opportunity to continue our good run & these breaks always make us Gunners all a bit pensive with worry over injuries.  Hopefully, with van Stapleton now in Mancunster some of those fears can be allayed these days. We certainly don’t need any injuries now as the fixture list becomes congested soon with all the cup competitions soon to begin.

Speaking of the cups, Arsenal drew Coventry City as their opponents in their opening League Cup match.  The League Cup is now called the Capital One Cup.  So, get all the “what’s in your wallet?!” jokes & memes ready.  Arsenal’s League Cup/Capital One Cup campaign begins on September 24th.

In the Champions’ League, we’ve drawn Schalke 04 (with American, Jermaine Jones), Olympiakos & Giroud’s former club, Montpellier. You have to think that’s a pretty good draw for us though midweek cross-continent trips can be tricky.  I’m not saying we’ll walk this group, but if we don’t win it, it’ll still be a bit disappointing in my view.

That’s all putting the cart before the horse though because our next match after the accursed international break is against Southampton who have given both Mancunster clubs all they’ve wanted despite losing both matches, 3-2.  Today Soho lost to ManUre with that traitorous cunt bagging a hat-trick despite completely botching an attempted Panenka PK.  Soho deserved to win the game too so they’ll be no pushovers at all.  I imagine Ricky Lambert will give us fits much like Grant Holt did for Norwich last year.  They’re very similar type players & Lambert is arguably better.

So, Arsenal with a good win over Liverpool & Labor Day tomorrow, so have yourselves a few adult beverages.  Chilled or frosted, it matters not.  Oh, the U21s have a fixture against Everton tomorrow as well.  I’ll try to find a feed & watch since it’ll be a holiday.

COME ON, YOU GUNNERS!

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