Saturday, 2 November 2013

Arsenal v Liverpool post-match thoughts: Resilience and quality lead to crucial win

This game was of massive importance today. Arsenal could have lost 3 home games in a row to big teams in all competitions and psychologically that could have been a big blow. But we won it, which boosts belief within the players and the supporters and creates a healthy, positive environment for Arsenal. It adds more belief and confidence that we can win the Premier League title and shows everyone else we're genuine contenders who mean business.

Not only does the win have huge psychological positivity but it also puts us 5 points clear at the top of the table above Liverpool and Chelsea. Man City and Man Utd are even further adrift and everything looks very rosy in the league currently.

I thought Arsenal's performance was arguably their best of the season so far. Yes we were very good against Napoli but didn't have much to defend against. This time we were up against the Premier League's most in-form and extremely hyped strikers, Suarez and Sturridge. It was a big test of our defence and team overall, plus I think the team had more pressure on them to win than they did against Napoli.

The defensive aggression and organization was very good, the way Arteta (like he did last season at Anfield) controlled the midfield and protected the back four very well was fantastic; it was one of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt in my view. Bacary Sagna also had one of his best games for Arsenal in a long while. The interplay and creativity of our midfield and how they played as such a team as if they'd all been playing with each other for years was outstanding. Olivier Giroud additionally played well, got in the right places for chances and held the ball up well playing against 3 centre backs. He also seemed to win everything in the air.

I loved the big game attitude, it was like it was in our very good performances against Tottenham and Napoli so far this season and just showed we mean business. It brought back that sight I've mentioned before this season: we looked like winners. A winning team with a winning mentality that means business. Not some team to just play pretty football and finish 4th, a team with determination and fight who have high ambition and belief to win trophies.

Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta were excellent in midfield and just showed their superiority over Gerrard, Lucas and Henderson. Cazorla was lovely, always involved and obviously scored. They played some terrific football (that move conducted mainly by Ozil shortly after the 1st goal comes especially to mind) but not at the expense of making sure they kept Liverpool out at the other end. We created a lot of chances, and against a very good team which makes it even more impressive and highlights our attacking qualities even without Walcott, Wilshere, Podolski and Chamberlain as options. Mertesacker and Koscielny were very hard to get past and were solid, and apart from one careless late blip, Szczesny was excellent again.

I think we still need to work on stopping counter-attacks though. I thought that was the only time when Liverpool looked dangerous in the first half, we don't yet seem to be able to stop counter-attacks well enough. We need to improve there because the big teams will often punish us for that.

But elsewhere everything was positive; a great performance, a great win, confidence and morale boosted and we're 5 points clear at the top of the table. Now to sit back, relax and enjoy going to Everton v The White Shite tomorrow.

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