Arsenal at Anfield was actually the first match of the season that I got to watch, and while I been reading all about Arsenal’s new found tightness at the back, I needed to see it with my own eyes in order to banish my usual nagging skepticism.
The defensive unit Arsene fielded was not first choice but they were admirable in their discipline. As Andy will surely point out; we’re the only team not to concede thus far, something consigned the realms of fantasy over the past six or so seasons. But it’s true; Arsenal actually looked noticeably stronger in defence and it immediately radiates confidence. Top marks to Wenger and Bould for prioritising an area that we were deficient in last season.
There were a few moments of classic Arsenal defending, Mertesacker passing the ball out of defence straight to the opposition once or twice in the first half. Thank god we had Arteta at hand to mop up the sloppiness. He was forced to take a yellow card to stop Liverpool from taking advantage of a poor Mertesacker clearance, but it was worth it.
While Cazorla and Diaby will rightly take a lot of accolades from the match (and I’m sure Andy will cover those guys in his wrap up), I was really impressed by the defending of Arteta. He was more than willing to track back and cover any bare patch of grass in front of the back four.
There was one occasion early in the second half where he switched off momentarily and it was telling that it almost led to a good opportunity for Liverpool. Otherwise he was flawless and it’s performances like these that soothe the pain of the departed.
I was also really pleased to see the defensive work rate of Podolski on the left, who was often seen dropping back when Gibbs ventured forward. I can’t recall the likes of Arshavin ever consistently doing that kind of work, so that’s a huge positive.
Arsenal will take a lot from this good performance. It was laughable to hear the words of some so-called football experts on Australian television coverage claiming that Liverpool threw the game away. The truth is, they were never in it despite statistics indicating otherwise – the only important one is the scoreboard anyway.
They were, of course, outstripped by Luiz Saurez in the ‘complaining to the ref’ department, but that minor niggle aside, it’s a great day to be a Gooner.