In the preview post I said at the end that I predicted a 2-1 win and described that prediction as boring and that I would take boring any day so long as its a win, well, sometimes there are matches that make you eat your own words and this match was one of them. So, let me mend my original statement to say that I would take this performance any day. This was a fantastically fluid performance by Arsenal and they fully deserved the win, perhaps even by a greater margin.
Arsenal really came flying out, almost possessed like, with a steely determination that they would not only win this match, but also banish the demons from last season that saw us suffer a 5-1 deficit against the same opponents. We really could have been at least 2 up by the time Liverpool got their first sniff of a chance. The first chance fell to Cazorla who hit a low shot which in the end from a tight enough angle, and although it didn't really force Mignolet into making a save of note, it was a good chance nonetheless. A few minutes later however Ramsey was played through one on one with the keeper but, using his left foot he got no real power on the ball, even though it still forced Mignolet to fully stretch out to gather the ball.
There were only two moments in the match where I felt somewhat apprehensive, the first being after those first 10 to 15 minutes as Liverpool began to get a foothold in the game and created perhaps the best opening up until that point. After some nice inter play Markovic was through on goal but elected to try play Sterling in and luckily for us the pass was way off, otherwise he would only have to tap the ball in and give him the opportunity to grab the headlines for the right reasons this time. Seeing them miss that opportunity reminded me of Arsenal and the many times such an incident has occurred, much to our agony; just shoot! That was Liverpool's only real opportunity, however until Arsenal finally said they had enough of that nonsense and put 3 past them in 8 minutes.
The first goal was what 'Wengerball' is all about; Hector Bellerin, a 20 year old right back only thrown into first team action at Dortmund back in September, who on that particular day looked a nervy presence in the team, and while some may say that it was a mirror image of what the team were performing like at that time, then it can also be said that he also encapsulates Arsenals form these past few months, and indeed, the performance against Liverpool; confident, dynamic and above all, hard working. As the ball was played to him just inside the box, he sold Moreno a lovely shimmy, and probably a few other things too, cut inside and beautifully curled the ball into the bottom corner. Belerin, just like Arsenal really have come full circle; it was the perfect way to sow that.
Mesut Ozil, another player in fantastic form, was given the ball a few yards out from the box, and before he could do anything else was completely taken out by Sakho, (even when fouling, Sakho manages to look clumsy; he can be a very good defender at times and then make some very strange decisions; quite the enigma indeed). Anyway it was a free kick and i'm sure at this point that this chap began feeling the nerves in the pit of his stomach, as it was quite obvious that Ozil would be taking this free kick. Staying true to form he dispatched the free kick so effortlessly into the goal on the keepers side. It really was perfectly executed, that perhaps, even Paul Scholes might notice it.
Alexis Sanchez lashed in another perfect shot that, even though it was quite central, it left the keeper with no chance of saving it. I have seen a lot of people saying that he should have easily dealt with it, but I don't think so.It was just too powerful and sometimes you just have to accept that no matter what position the goal keeper is in, some shots are unstoppable. Did it remind anyone else of this goal? Just the way it flew past the keeper into the centre made me think of it straight away. So 3-0 up at half time, perfect. When I was watching the game I didn't actually realize we scored a third until it came back from a break, as I had a dodgy stream that went off just as he scored.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs above, there were two moments in the game where I felt somewhat anxious; the second of which was a 10 minute spell, in the second half before Liverpool got their penalty, which we can have no complaints about, apart, perhaps, the fact that Ospina probably should have done better on it. In the period before they scored the penalty we seemed to sit a little too deep and invite them on too much, but in saying that they only had one other good opportunity which was a comfortable save form an Emre Can snap shot. However, after the penalty went in, Arsenal's response was very good and began to take full control again.
We missed a couple of good opportunities before Olivier Giroud thumped in a delicious shot. Cazorla hit the post after some nice play again, and the handsome French man himself forced Mignolet into another very good save from a header at the start of the half. Anyway what more can be said about that fourth goal? I just think that Giroud had forgotten that he hadn't yet scored and was having none of it, after he was played the ball he took a nice touch inside and then just hit the ball, with more pace than Ozil's goal and less so than Sanchez's strike, into the goal and that was it. Dare I say a classic Giroud goal now? The other incident of note in the match came a few minutes prior, when Emre Can, fed up of being made a fool of scissor tackled Welbeck from behind, rightfully got a second yellow card and that was the end of his game. Can, alongside, Gerrard and Skrtel are suspended for Liverpool's F.a. cup quarter final replay at Ewood park, Wednesday night.
Well there isn't a lot more to be said on the game. It was a fantastic performance, one i'm sure we will all look back rather fondly on at the end of the season. City are at Palace tonight and should they fail to win then it would mean that we hold on to second place. While I think that it is a bit naive of people talking about us winning the title, I think it shows the fantastic turn around of the team this season that we are in a position where we may quite well, be the team to push Chelsea closest.
I have also heard some people say that this is nothing new from Arsenal, that when we start poorly we always manage to turn the season around, well I think that is pure nonsense. We are playing the best football for quite some time, and look stronger than ever. Also, when is the last team we beat one of the 'big sides' 4-1? Not only that but beat both Manchester sides away from home in the same season? When is the last time we have been in a position to defend a trophy; in the 2005/06 season where we failed to retain the F.a cup after being knocked out in the fourth round at Bolton. This is good progress by Arsenal right now, lets maintain it, see where we are at the end of the season and take off from there. It always seems that the same people crying about no progress are the ones who deny progress when it happens or that no matter what the manager does, they want him out, which of course is there right; but it would be nice of fans just started to support the team as one unit in this crucial season ending period.
Right that's your lot for now, come back for more.
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Have a good day.
Subjectively, Cosmic Kid.