Three Things: Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Posted by Miguel Delaney

Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla celebrate during Arsenal's Premier League game against Liverpool.PA PhotosAaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla celebrate during Arsenal's Premier League game against Liverpool.

LONDON -- Three observations from Arsenal's Premier League victory against Liverpool at the Emirates.

Arsenal re-assert their credentials

After the difficulties of the past two weeks and the past two big games, the surprise here was how thoroughly easy it was for Arsenal in this 2-0 victory.

They were a step above Liverpool in almost every facet of the game and proved themselves a class above as a team.

In many ways, this was reminiscent of the defeat Arsenal themselves suffered to Borussia Dortmund here. Liverpool simply came up against a more sophisticated outfit, both in terms of tactics and technique.

Arsene Wenger’s side absorbed the away side’s penetration before then demonstrating how to truly pass the ball with precision and penetration. As if to hammer home the point, the two goals were of the highest quality, in very different ways.

First, Santi Cazorla showed exquisite technical control with the manner he kept both his header and then his finish down for the first goal.

Second, Aaron Ramsey contributed yet another Arsenal contender for goal of the season. That variety of vigorously brilliant goals is in itself testament to their quality. By the end, the side were flourishing.

In some ways, it is that swagger which is as important as the actual points. Because, after the successive big-game defeats to Dortmund and Chelsea, there have been suggestions from both this team’s character and history that it would affect their confidence, disrupt so much recent momentum.

It did nothing of the sort. Arsenal soared even clearer at the top of the table.

Liverpool’s reality may have been revealed

The one caveat to all of that, however, is that this game may have illustrated that Liverpool are not actually as good a team or as significant opposition as their prior league position suggest.

Make no mistake. Throughout the run that took them to third before this game, there were clear signs that Brendan Rodgers’s plan is progressing, and there are many positives. Even then, though, it was impossible to escape the consistent impression that the luscious strike force of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez covered the team’s deeper lack of quality. To sum it up in a stat, they have still scored 82 percent of the team’s goals, 14 of 17.

Many may argue that is exactly what they were signed to do, but the problems in so singularly relying on their brilliance was revealed today. As the game wore on, Arsenal realised they needed to only fill the space around Suarez to render his side toothless. Virtually every Liverpool attack of note ended at the feet of the Uruguayan, but on this occasion he couldn’t himself find the requisite finish.

Ultimately, Rodgers did not have the range of options or players to properly confuse Arsenal’s concentration, allowing Wenger’s side to thunder forward with force anytime the opportunity presented.

Until Rodgers can fortify the rest of the team behind Suarez and Sturridge, that top-four finish looks as far off as their performance today.

A day that wasn’t about the stars

A pound for the Uruguayan’s thoughts today? Wenger admitted on Friday that his notorious 40,000,001-pound bid for the forward in the summer was "not the most subtle," but his team did a fine job of subduing Suarez at the Emirates.

That was achieved through a mix of the crude and the clever. Initially, the force of Arsenal’s challenges on the number-seven was all too clear as Wenger’s defence dished out the kind of treatment the Frenchman has himself complained about in the past. By the end, Tomas Rosicky was effortlessly cutting out Suarez’s attempts at incisive passes.

The Czech’s understated influence was indicative. In the end, this was a day decided by the collective rather than any individual brilliance.

Indeed it seems thoroughly significant that this finally a big Arsenal win in which Mesut Oezil is barely mentioned. Yet, whereas Liverpool lacked anyone to step in behind Suarez or Daniel Sturridge, Arsenal had plenty prepared to flood in behind the German.

It was in fact the playmaker who has been somewhat overshadowed by Oezil who provided one of the best performances. Cazorla’s goal was not his only contribution. The key point, however, was that it was all enhanced by the collective.


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