Big players, big performance, big win

Posted by Sam Limbert

"Let's pretend we scored a goal……" What? We actually scored! I was in disbelief when Arsenal scored the opening goal at Anfield. Not because I think our strikers are rubbish, but because I was feeling pessimistic so was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to score this season. Had the match gone into the second half without us scoring, I think the team would have believed they were never going to score. However for the first time this season, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski attacked at pace, had some space and clinically punished Liverpool.

Podolski's finish for the opener was superbly taken, but it was made possible by the weight of Cazorla's pass. The goal showed that after three matches, the front three are beginning to click as a team. They also looked more comfortable when playing on the counter attack, instead of the onus being on Arsenal to make all of the running in the match, as it had been against Sunderland and Stoke.

The second goal came from more great link up play between Podolski and Cazorla, with the Spaniard firing in well from a tight angle. I've heard a lot of people question whether Podolski will succeed at the club because he struggled at Bayern Munich, however you don't win 100 caps for Germany for nothing. Cazorla had a quieter game than the previous two, but his contributions were a lot more significant. He's clearly getting up to speed with the Premier League, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

The other new signing is still waiting to make his mark, however I still think Olivier Giroud will come good as our lead man up front. He worked hard against Liverpool, and made some good runs to make space. There will be a lot of focus on his miss in the first half, and it was a great opportunity, but his run to get in that position was good. He just needs one goal to get himself going and then I think we'll see Giroud's confidence grow.

However as much as our attacking was impressive, once again, we were awesome defensively. After an early booking, I was very concerned that Per Mertesacker would get sucked into a second one by Luis Suarez's quicker movement, however the big German was having none of it. He read the game superbly, made brilliant tackles and interceptions, and alongside Thomas Vermaelen, the pair appear to have a good understanding. I still think Laurent Koscielny will eventually come back into the team, but Mertesacker is making it very difficult for him.

The full backs were also excellent. Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson both got forward well, and were rarely caught out at the back. Both were helped by other players tracking back to offer them protection, but they stood firm when being run at. The whole back four were superb, limited Liverpool to longer shots, making Vito Mannone's life easier. However when the Italian was needed to make a save, he made it comfortably. Wojciech Szczesny will still be the number one, but it's reassuring to have a back-up goalkeeper we can begin to trust.

As well as Mertesacker, another tall player had a massive game. Abou Diaby showed why Arsene Wenger persists with him despite his injury problems. Alongside Mikel Arteta, the two protected the back four well, and when the chance arose, Diaby was also comfortable to go forward. There were still moments where he was caught in possession and fell asleep, but overall, he had an impressive game. His charge forward in the first half to set up the chance for Giroud was fantastic, and makes me feel more comfortable about Wenger letting Alex Song leave. Song did create a lot of chances last season, but we didn't have Wilshere and Diaby in the team. With those two in the side at different times during the season, we shouldn't lose too much creativity in that area of the pitch.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struggled to have a big impact on the game, but we shouldn't be putting too much pressure on him at this stage of his career. He's still developing, and we can't expect him to be a world-beater every game.

Despite the shorter Podolski and Cazorla getting the goals, this was a match where Arsenal's two giants in defence and in midfield made the difference. The forwards just found their clinical streak, and suddenly the start to the season doesn't looks far from disastrous.

Arsene Wenger deservedly has his critics for not dipping into the transfer market late on in the window, but he undoubtedly signed two quality players in Cazorla and Podolski, and has worked hard on improving the likes of Diaby and Mertesacker. Three clean sheets, and finally some goals, means that we're a long way from writing off this season, or Arsene Wenger. Just compare Arsenal to Liverpool, they've spent a lot in recent seasons, and have one point from three games, so spending big doesn't guarantee success.

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