Arsenal vs. Liverpool: 6 Things We Learned
A superb goal from Santi Cazorla and another Aaron Ramsey special helped Arsenal to an emphatic 2-0 win over Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium. The win moves the Gunners to five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Arsenal dominated the game from start to finish and strangled the life out of the Reds' much vaunted midfield. Going into the game, all the talk was of how Arsenal, without the injured Mathieu Flamini, would deal with Steven Gerrard and co.
To tell the truth, the Gunners were ruthless in their complete and utter destruction of Brendan Rodgers' team.
The Gunners' opening goal came from the boot of Cazorla on the second attempt, having hit the post with his first. The Spaniard made the most of Bacary Sagna's superb run and cross to finish quite brilliantly.
The second came from the boot of Ramsey. The Welshman chested the ball down in plenty of space, before elegantly guiding the ball home past Simon Mignolet for his 12th goal of the season in all competitions.
Following Chelsea's shocking 2-0 loss to Newcastle United at St. James' Park, Liverpool and Arsenal had the chance to go clear and claim first position as their own. In the end, it was the Gunners who showed the most appetite. They made Liverpool's title credentials look more than distant as they enhanced their own with their best performance of the season.
Last season, Liverpool wore black for their visit to the Emirates. This time, they wore white. In truth, they surrendered and were beaten black-and-blue by a rampant Arsenal side led, once again, by the brilliant Ramsey.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at six things we learned from Arsenal vs. Liverpool.
Luis Suarez with Arsenal Would Mean Champions League Contenders
On the way into the Emirates Stadium an advertisement poster read:
Biting, Diving, Cheating. Keep it up Luis!
If there were ever a way to allow motivation of your opponents, this was it.
Unlike the rest of his team, Luis Suarez actually came out of the game with his reputation intact. The Uruguayan striker was everywhere. He dropped deep to initiate play, he held the ball up well and, when offered the chance, he caused danger. His movement off the ball was world class, and it took the entirety of Arsenal's back line to keep him quiet.
Olivier Giroud, in comparison, was hardly in the match. He worked hard across the line and did his general best.
However, he is no Luis Suarez.
In the run up to the game, Brendan Rodgers made fun of the Gunners' £40,000,001 bid for Suarez to the Telegraph.
To be honest, we laughed. We were away at the time on the pre-season tour when I saw the bid in writing. I think Arsenal were ill-advised on that, to say the least.
Arsenal as a football club always had great integrity historically and so, when that bid came through, I can only say it was one of the worst pieces of information they ever received.
Had Arsene Wenger changed the four to a five in their mischievous bid, the Gunners would, most definitely, have signed Luis Suarez.
Had they signed the striker they would be Premier League and Champions League challengers.
Mesut Ozil Missed Mathieu Flamini
There is little doubt that Mesut Ozil's capture has been one of the best pieces of business that Arsene Wenger has ever done.
The slight-of-frame German international hit the ground running following his move from Real Madrid and contributed five assists in his first five games. He then hit the back of the net twice as the Gunners mauled the highly malleable Norwich City 4-1.
Since then, however, he has been distinctly out of sorts.
Today, he was poor once again.
His poor performances have all coincided with Mathieu Flamini's absence from the Arsenal team.
One game is a coincidence. Two games is worrying. Four games is a trend that Arsene Wenger will have to be wary about.
Brendan Rodgers' 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 Formations Did Not Work
Liverpool have been using a 3-5-2 for the best part of their 12 games this season. Brendan Rodgers' formation proved a good piece of management and the best way to pack the midfield while playing two strikers up front.
The formation asked questions of almost every opponent the Reds have faced. Against Arsenal, it was the Gunners who posed all the questions.
Jon Flanagan, deputizing for Glen Johnson, had a decent game at right wing-back. The same, however, cannot be said of the far more experienced Aly Cissokho. The French international was picked off at every opportunity by Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky.
Cissokho's poor play and Arsenal's dominance in midfield meant that the left flank was left completely open throughout the first half.
It was little surprise, therefore, that Rodgers introduced Philippe Coutinho and reshuffled his team to a 4-4-2 for the second half.
Needless to say, his 4-4-2 did not work either.
Arsenal have made a habit of destroying four-man midfields, and by the time Rodgers changed things, it was a real case of too little too late.
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey were the real heroes for Arsenal. Because of their utter dominance of the game in midfield, their back four had very little to do.
The Gunners were brilliant and really taught Liverpool a lesson.
Bacary Sagna Is Having a Great Season
Bacary Sagna is having a stellar season for Arsenal. The Frenchman has easily been the Gunners' most important and impressive defender this term.
His marauding runs down the right have become something of a trademark this season. He exposed Aly Cissokho in the most simple and ruthless of fashions for Arsenal's opening goal when his intelligent run caught his fellow countryman miles out of position.
Cissokho, Liverpool's left-wing-back, had pushed up far too high and Sagna powered into the massive gap. The Gunners' No. 3 then produced a cross of superb quality for Cazorla to fire home at the second attempt.
In something that was missed by most, Sagna was also excellent in his calculated collection of a yellow card that broke a Liverpool quick break.
Defensively, he was excellent once again. He shuttled across to help Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in dealing with Luis Suarez. When Liverpool switched to an orthodox four-man midfield, Coutinho barely even saw the ball.
Sagna is out of contract this summer, and on current form, Arsene Wenger could do worse than offer him a new deal.
Steven Gerrard Is a World Cup Worry for England
Steven Gerrard may have been England's hero after his late goal put Poland to the sword as Roy Hodgson's team qualified for the World Cup in Brazil next year.
Poland, however, are no great shakes. At best they would be a bottom-six team in the Premier League.
And, they most certainly are no Arsenal.
The Liverpool and England captain never got a touch in the first half as Arsene Wenger's midfield dominated the game to an incredible extent. Aaron Ramsey was almost omnipresent and covered every blade of grass across the park, Mikel Arteta sat deep and played the ball around with simplistic brilliance and Santi Cazorla was brilliant.
There has been much talk of Brendan Rodgers' 3-5-2 this season, but they were ruthlessly taken apart by Arsenal and the foundations for that dominance began in midfield. Gerrard is considered a daunting presence in the Premier League. But Ramsey is past scaring this season, and he dominated the much older and more experienced man.
When England go to Brazil next season, they will face teams with highly mobile midfields, just like Arsenal's. Gerrard, as great as he was and as great as he is at set-pieces, will be exposed at the highest level.
Aaron Ramsey Is Not Only Dominating Teams, He Is Dominating the Premier League
At the beginning of the season, I wrote an article stating that Aaron Ramsey was on the verge of becoming Arsenal's most important player.
His goal, and all around, performance against Liverpool have done nothing to detract from that distinctive possibility.
Ramsey was brilliant in midfield today and is growing with each and every game. Against Liverpool, he led the midfield charge and took Liverpool's best and most important weapons out of the game.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have claimed plenty of plaudits with some stunning goals this season. However, if their supply lines have been cut off and dominated to the extent that they are non-existent, they are practically useless.
Ramsey has to be the most disciplined member of Arsene Wenger's team as Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla all do their best work in the final third.
He also has one thing that none of the other players, maybe even across the entire league, possess: a phenomenal set of lungs.
Ramsey has the stamina and ability to cover every blade of grass on the pitch, and the way he took his goal speaks volumes of how he is getting better and more confident with each touch of the ball.
Ominously, the 22-year-old warned that there was more to come from him to the Daily Express recently.
I think there is more to come, I'm still only 22, I still need to do better and learn a few more things but the boss [Wenger] is telling me about that, things like positioning defensively.
So there's definitely more to come and I'm looking forward to that. When you haven't got the ball, while we're defending - sometimes I am not always where I need to be.
I need to be playing well, be involved in the game and taking these games by the scruff of the neck and keep doing the things I've been doing.
Looking at the way he has been playing this term, there is most certainly more to come from him.