Arsenal vs. Liverpool: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Credit where credit is due: Arteta excellent today. Sat deeper than perhaps I've ever seen him, never ahead of the ball, and excelled #afc— Sam Tighe (@stighefootball) November 2, 2013
As for Arsenal, that's quite the riposte to suggestions that they're flat track bullies. With reinforcements in January…who knows?— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) November 2, 2013
5 points clear at the top of the table. Call me crazy, but I honestly believe a win against Man Utd next week makes us the team to beat.— Tom (@FourFourTom) November 2, 2013
That lead will be put to the test with league games at Manchester United and Southampton coming up. First, though, the Gunners will have to play a tricky tie at Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
As such, Saturday's win can be interpreted as a confidence-boost. So, it was no surprise that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recalled Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud to the starting 11 following the midweek loss to Chelsea in the Capital One Cup.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers selected a three-man defence of Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel and Mamadou Sakho, with Jon Flanagan and Aly Cissokho playing behind an attacking midfield trio of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva.
The Reds were the better side during a frantic start, but the visitors found themselves behind in the 19th minute as Arsenal swept forward.
Mikel Arteta took possession in his own half and dribbled through Liverpool's midfield before playing a long pass through to Bacary Sagna on the right. Sagna crossed into the middle, where Santi Cazorla directed a powerful header onto the woodwork.
The rebound came back to Cazorla, who buried his shot for a 1-0 Arsenal lead.
Liverpool had the ball in the back of the net seven minutes later, but referee Martin Atkinson had whistled to stop the Reds from taking a quick free kick in order to book Arsenal's Bacary Sagna.
It turned out to be Liverpool's best chance of the first half, and Arsenal took a 1-0 lead into half-time. After the break, both teams created, and missed, good opportunities to score.
In the 49th minute, Henderson found himself in a good position on the right side of the box following Luis Suarez's pass. But Henderson hit his shot over the bar from a tight angle.
Six minutes later, Toure gifted a bad pass to Olivier Giroud, but the Arsenal striker shot wide with only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet to beat.
It didn't matter for long, though, as Arsenal doubled their advantage in the 59th minute through the in-form Aaron Ramsey. After collecting a pass from Ozil outside the box, Ramsey took a touch before curling a shot past Mignolet with the outside of his foot.
It was Ramsey's sixth league goal of the season, and it gave the hosts room to breathe in dealing with Liverpool's potent attacking duo of Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The latter had a chance in the 70th minute, but his header from Henderson's cross was wide of goal.
6 - Aaron Ramsey has scored six goals and provided three assists in his last seven Premier League appearances. Dragon.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 2, 2013
Aaron Ramsey has 11 goals in his last 18 games for Arsenal. He had 10 goals in 148 Arsenal games before that.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) November 2, 2013
Three minutes later, Sturridge took down a ball and left it for Suarez, whose drilled shot grazed the outside of the far post. Then, in the closing moments, Suarez had another clear opportunity after an Arsenal giveaway, but he could only roll his shot wide of the far post.
Arsenal had a chance of their own in the final minute, but Ozil's close-range shot was saved by Mignolet.
An improved second half for LFC, but still a poor performance. This might at least dampen unrealistic expectations.— Iain Macintosh (@iainmacintosh) November 2, 2013
Wenger: 'We needed to respond... we had to convince people we could win these big games' #AFCvLFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) November 2, 2013
Liverpool host Fulham in the league next Saturday.
Arsenal play at Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League before returning to the Premier League to play at Manchester United next Sunday.
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