The highest quality Arsenal v Liverpool game in years
Arsenal 2 Liverpool 0
From Goodplaya at the Emirates
(Apologies for the lack of updates in the past week – the home internet went down in the storm and still isn’t working).
This, by some distance, was the highest quality Arsenal v Liverpool encounter in many a year. And no, just because a game finishes 4-4 it doesn’t make it high quality. I know some Liverpool fans weren’t entirely happy with their performance yesterday but I’ve sat through some steaming piles from them in recent years and their show yesterday was infinitely better than any of those.
Admittedly, few of their chances were truly clear cut: when Suarez hit the outside of a post, for example, it was one of those where close as it was, there was no angle for it to go in. But Bacary Sagna fouled an onrushing Suarez in the first half and the forward took the free-kick early only for the referee to pull it back, I do think we were a little fortunate because by the time that whistle went and Gibbs and Szczesny stopped, we were already in a pretty perilous position truth be told. So they were a little unlucky there.
But ultimately, good as they were, we were better. The basics were all there: when Liverpool did have the ball, we were disciplined at the back and always worked hard in midfield and up front to get it back. Arteta was excellent defensively and going forward. Flamini was hardly missed.
And it was when we went forward that the ball was shifted at such speed. I’ve just watched the highlights on Match of the Day and they struggled to convey just how high tempo we were going forward.
Our opener was a great example: Arteta just suddenly powered forward at great speed and put in a delicious ball for Sagna. And you know, it was a good cross, which is not something you can often say for one that bounces before it passes the six yard line. But it was clever because it was where the Liverpool defenders weren’t.
And as it bounced and you saw Cazorla running at it, you felt as if you were watching the making of the latest super-slomoed, then suddenly sped-up advert for a certain TV provider attempting to sign us up. It was brilliant from Cazorla.
And then there was Ramsey. Just when you think he’s about to stop being the best player in the country, up he pops again. It perhaps wasn’t Kolo’s finest hour – had Martin Keown been his central defensive partner he’d have bollocked him – but it was a mighty fine strike.
And so we march on. This was a game where pretty much everyone other than Ozil had a very decent game. The surprise packages, I suppose, were Arteta and Rosicky but great credit should go to the centre-backs to and to Gibbs, who I keep forgetting to mention but who has been outstanding of late.
What was so pleasing about this was the way we responded to a couple of set-backs of late: we’d lost to Dortmund, got a result that was better than the performance at Palace and been pretty nothingy against Chelsea truth be told. Liverpool on the other hand appeared to be in flying form.
It is true that our truly big tests are yet to come. But they are ultimately only worth three points each and while you’re going to struggle to win the title if you don’t have a good record against the other top sides, you definitely won’t win it if you’re incapable of dispatching the rest and that we’ve done, largely, with aplomb.