Arsenal: A cohesive unit

Arteta Arsenal 2011

After watching Arsenal’s performance against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday I was trying to think of a word that best summed up their performance. The word that fit the best for me was cohesive. What I saw on the pitch was a cohesive squad that attacked and defended as a unit. And they did it very well I might add. They took advantage of their chances and another bit of a shaky performance by Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina on the second goal and earned the victory.

I thought they did as well as possible for the first 75 minutes and didn’t really allow Liverpool any quality chances until about the last 15 minutes of the game when the Reds got desperate. When Liverpool did start to threaten, keeper Vito Mannone looked sharp and denied every opportunity. I know people like to slag Abou Diaby off, but I think he had another decent game and is improving all of the time.

Lukas Podolski showed once again that he’s willing to work in every area of the pitch and his finishing was what we’ve come to expect after all those years banging the ball in the net for Germany. Santi Cazorla sprung him loose with an excellent pass and the Polish-born international did the rest. However, it’s obvious to me that his fellow forward and new signing Olivier Giroud isn’t quite up to Podolski’s level. Giroud didn’t have what you’d call a bad game, but he didn’t really have a good one either. He just seems to be one of those players that needs half a dozen chances before he buries one.

Cazorla sewed up the three points with a low hard shot from the left side of the pitch that Reina should have saved. Defensively, the Gunners were spot on and didn’t really give up many chances at all over the 90 minutes. That’s three straight clean sheets now and something that the whole squad should take pride in. The counterattacking was excellent and so was the ball control for the most part.

There were a few bad passes, but Liverpool wasn’t able to capitalize on any of them and had a problem creating much in Arsenal’s third of the pitch. There were a couple of penalty shouts for Liverpool and Mertesacker was perhaps lucky that he didn’t get called for a clumsy challenge on Suarez. However, it’s unlikely that Suarez is going to get many calls his way this season due to the reputation he now has in the league.

I wouldn’t say that Arsenal stole three points as I think they were full marks for them. After three games they’re unbeaten and haven’t allowed a goal yet. The win pushed them up to eighth place in the Premier League table while Liverpool sits in the relegation zone with just one point. It seems to be déjà vu all over again for the Merseysiders as they got off to this type of dreadful start last season too.  It doesn’t seem to matter who’s in charge there, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish or Brendan Rodgers, the results are the same.

These are my player ratings for the match:

Vito Mannone – 8: He didn’t have much to do, but was there when he was needed late in the game. If he looked vulnerable anywhere it was on high balls in his goal area.

Per Mertesacker – 7: He made a bad tackle early on for a yellow card, but other than that had a decent game.

Carl Jenkinson – 8: Jenkinson looked pretty impressive with and without the ball. He made a few good runs and his tackling was nice and clean and didn’t get caught out of position.

Kieran Gibbs – 7: A good showing. He didn’t stand out, but that’s usually a good thing for a defender. He’s improving all the time and never looked out oh is league.

Thomas Vermaelen – 7.5: The skipper had a controlled game defensively and never panicked.

Mikel Arteta – 7.5: A better showing than last week. He did his job well when defending and attacking.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7: Oxlade-Chamberlain worked just as hard defensively as anybody else. In fact he might have played better defensively than offensively before being substituted in the second half.

Abou Diaby – 8.5: Diaby played well enough last week, but was more consistent this time around. He carried the ball well with his long spindly legs and made some fine runs with it. He’s getting better all the time, but needs to keep it up all season long.

Santi Cazorla – 8.5: He set up a goal and scored the other. He’s got good vision and ball control and so far has been a pleasant surprise with his sublime skills.

Lukas Podolski – 8:  Podolski’s a tireless worker and doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. He took his goal well and is always dangerous in the offensive end. Was substituted in the 81st minute, but should have been left on the pitch as Giroud should have come off instead.

Olivier Giroud – 6: The French international works hard enough, but his vision and finishing have been out of synch so far. He needs a confidence booster soon in the form of a goal.

Aaron Ramsey ­– The Welshman came on around the 74th minute for Oxlade-Chamberlain and did his job even though Liverpool started to press after he came on.

What would your ratings be?

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