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Analysing Martin Skrtel's Performance vs. Arsenal

Liverpool's Martin Skrtel, centre, celebrates after scoring his first goal against Arsenal during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Saturday Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2014

Coming into Saturday's game against Arsenal, Martin Skrtel had scored two Premier League goals all season long for Liverpool. After just 10 minutes of action against the Gunners, he had doubled his tally on the year.

Skrtel scored both of his goals from set pieces, the first off a free-kick that Steven Gerrard curled delightfully into the box. Of course, you could make a very strong argument that the first tally should have been ruled offside.

From Squawka Football:

There was no doubt about the second, however, as Skrtel curled back around the defense on a corner and hit a brilliant, bending header to the far post past a helpless Wojciech Szczesny. From Squawka:

It's pretty remarkable to think that not only could Liverpool score two goals within 10 minutes on a strong Arsenal defense but that they would do so without Luis Suarez or Daniel Sturridge being the ones to find the back of the net.

Of course, it's no surprise that Skrtel's goals would come from set pieces, as Paul Carr of ESPN noted:

Liverpool weren't done, of course, as the Reds would score two more goals in the next 10 minutes, with Raheem Sterling and eventually Sturridge reaching the score sheet. It was an utter dismantling that took less than 20 minutes.

Just how bad did it get for Arsenal? This bad, according to Carr:

Skrtel really was the story. He didn't just play solid on set pieces in the early going, of course, but also was strong in defense. He made a crucial stand against Olivier Giroud in the box in the first half, tapping away the ball as the Arsenal striker tried to cut back in on his right and take aim at Simon Mignolet's goal.

At the half, WhoScored gave Skrtel an 8.8 match rating, easily tops in the match and sending the defender on his way to what looked like a Man of the Match performance.

It was a showing nobody expected in a first half no one could have predicted. And surely a performance that Skrtel won't be forgetting anytime soon.


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