After Arsenal's 2-0 victory of Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday, here are the best and worst of the Gunners' performances.
Santi Cazorla continued his brilliant start to the season by providing the opening assist to fellow newcomer Lukas Podolski, and then capped off a great performance by netting a goal himself—blasting a low shot that deflected through the flailing arms of Liverpool’s keeper, Pepe Reina.
Since arriving at Arsenal, Cazorla has had a seamless transition, possessing the ball well and providing great opportunities for Arsenal’s strikers and wingers. Cool, calm and smart, Cazorla knows what to do when he has the ball, and he rarely misplays it.
Gunners fans everywhere breathed a huge sigh of relief when Podolski finally found the back of the net. It ended Arsenal’s scoreless streak and provided a spark that shifted the momentum away from Liverpool, who at the time was dominating play. More importantly, it proved that Podolski has the finishing skills that Arsene Wenger has been boasting about, and his soft touch and deft placement of the shot—at a very sharp angle while being harassed by a defender—showed a touch of class that fans have been waiting all season to see.
Captain Thomas Vermaelen—and the entire back line—continued to help Arsenal maintain their impressive start of not allowing an opposing goal all season. Vermaelen anchored a defense that looked confident, sharp and prepared for everything that came at them.
Although there were a few anxious moments in the penalty area, Arsenal’s defenders never looked panicked or undisciplined. They played especially well against Liverpool’s set pieces, and their solid play has provided Arsenal with much-needed stability throughout their first three matches.
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Olivier Giroud continues to mishandle scoring opportunities, and although he made some great runs during the match, he struggled with his first touches and missed wildly on his shots. Wenger will surely continue to start Giroud and give him plenty of opportunities to prove himself within the next few games, but if he doesn’t start finishing, he may find himself entering matches as a sub instead of a starter.
Vito Mannone didn’t allow a goal and made some key saves when it mattered, but he also appeared wildly out of place during various crosses throughout the game. His biggest weakness is his indecisive action when the ball is being lobbed high in the air deep in the penalty area.
Mannone twice reluctantly entered out of his crease to attempt to gather the ball, only to withdraw or be out-muscled at the very last second—mistakes that almost cost Arsenal.
Fortunately, the defense saved Mannone on all occasions, but eventually Mannone’s mistakes will turn into goals for the opposing team if he doesn’t correct this fault.
Overall, Arsenal looked strong and dangerous, especially during counterattacks. It took them a while to settle down, but going forward, Arsenal fans can delight in this outcome and take solace in a well-deserved win.