Liverpool 0-2 Arsenal: Diaby blows down Rodgers’ Scouse house

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter two consecutive goalless games, a Diaby-inspired Arsenal played Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. The Gunners left the north-west with their first win and goals of the season and are still the only team in England not to have conceded.

Despite traditionally being a tough away fixture, some corners of the Arsenal support quietly relished the prospect of facing a more offensive team after huffing and puffing to no avail in the Stoke and Sunderland games. Against Liverpool they blew Brendon Rodgers’ Scouse house down.

Both teams had questions to answer following idle climaxes to the transfer window but it was Arsenal’s new boys that vindicated their manager’s transfer policy (for now at least). Liverpool were the first to muster a shooting opportunity but Borini’s attempt form an angle was high and wide of Mannone’s goal. Arsenal replied soon after as Cazorla found enough space in the crowded box to fire a tame effort into the hands of Reina.

Midway through the first half Liverpool tried to barge their way through the well organised back line of Arsenal but a wayward Gerrard pass broke down the attack. Eight seconds later, Arsenal took the lead.

The ball landed at the feet of Vermaelen who instantly found Podolski. The normal-sized German took a touch before passing to Cazorla who found space in between Liverpool’s stretched midfield and defence. No one closed him down as he carried the ball at speed to the edge of the box where Podolski was arriving on cue to pick up the perfectly-weighted through ball. He steadied himself and unleashed an unstoppable drive into the corner, wheeling away to the travelling fans as they sung “Lukas Podolski, he scores when he wants.”

Scoring is of course the easiest and quickest way to win over new fans but Podolski’s industrious performances are fast making him a fans’ favourite. The wide man chased every loose ball, tucked in obediently in support of Gibbs and made himself available in good positions whenever Arsenal were on the front foot. Take note Theo and Gervinho.

Liverpool looked for an instant fightback and came close after some poor defending from the Arsenal captain. Trying to head the ball away from danger the Belgian’s weak clearance landed at the feet of Sterling, whose clever turn fooled Chamberlain. Bearing down on Mannone at an angle the young winger thrashed a shot that hit the outside of the post.

By this point the Arsenal midfield had settled into a rhythm. When they didn’t have the ball they worked tirelessly as a unit to regain possession and when they had a hold of it they were they looking sharp.

Shortly before half-time Podolski again tidied up after a failed Liverpool attack and quickly fed Diaby. Arsenal’s #2 was in the mood on Sunday and this passage of play epitomised his performance. Turning from Podolski’s pass he lifted the ball over Johnson’s attempted tackle and began striding toward goal. Nuri Sahin was in tow but Diaby simply powered away from the Real Madrid loanee at a ferocious pace. And in the blink of an eye Arsenal were bearing down on goal. Giroud arched his run, outfoxing the two Liverpool centre halves. Diaby’s through ball was just as cute.

If there is a defence for what followed perhaps it’s because Giroud shot as the ball was slightly behind him. Perhaps it was a lack of confidence that meant his run wasn’t perfect. Whatever it was, Giroud powered a shot well wide of goal.

Not long in to the second half Liverpool continued their hunt for an equaliser. Suarez claimed to have been pushed over by Mertesacker while trying to reach a cross but the referee rightly deemed him to have gone to ground too easily.

Soon after Jenkinson burst down the right wing, passed inside to Giroud who passed to Cazorla who switched play to the left. Podolski held the ball on the edge of the box waiting for his fullback to overlap. Gibbs duely obliged and shot first time from the German’s lay off. Reina had his angles covered and parried away to safety.

Then it was Liverpools turn again. A long ball upfield was picked up by Downing who’s clever back heel found Suarez in space on the edge of the box. The Uruguayan wound up to blast an effort that Mannone did well to push over the bar.

With Diaby driving at Liverpool’s defenders with power and purpose, Arsenal looked sure to double their lead and almost did moments later. The Frenchman turned on a pass and immediately gained ten yards of Liverpool turf before offloading to Podolski. He fed Cazorla who twisted and rifled a low drive that went the wrong side of the post. A goal for Arsenal looked likely and sure enough it arrived soon after.

Again Arsenal’s midfield looked neat in possession. Cazorla found space and dribbled out to wide left, playing a one-two with Podolski. For some reason Shelvey stopped tracking the minute Spaniard. He collected the return pass and hit a left footed shot from a tight angle. This time the Liverpool goalie got it all wrong and allowed Cazorla’s low drive to ricochet off his arm and over the line. Two nil, Arsenal.

Liverpool put their collective foot on the gas in search of a comeback. Shelvey hit two well struck long range drives that Mannone was equal to and Suarez should have got one back for the hosts after beating the offside trap but his high shot was poor.

Then it was game over: no surprise twists, goalkeeping howlers or hilarious own goals. Just the sweet sound of Arsenal fans cheering a well deserved away win.

This was the most pleasing Arsenal game I’ve seen in a very long time. Call me a nostalgic fool but I saw on Sunday so much of the great Arsenal teams in the last ten years. Arsenal counter-attacked at pace with a lanky, black Frenchman bossing the midfield while a tiny Spaniard majestically pulled all the strings. And at the back a well-drilled defensive five marshalled under the instruction of a man with no hair (but we don’t care!) snuffed out the opponent’s attacks.


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  1. The best word in this post was:”unit”! Wish vPussy had gone to Juve, but still like this team better! Best two way performance I have seen in a long time by anyone in any shirt by Podolski! Victoria Concordia Crescit!

  2. We did have some nervy moments in our area but overall our play away from the ball and when not in possession is more impressive than it has been in the last couple of years. This team keeps it shape and discipline better than recent editions. This should only improve once Sagna returns.

    On the ball, we seem to have evolved into counter striking assassins, no longer content to pass the opposition to death. This is starting to look like a real evolution, and I’m excited for the season to continue. Damn the international break!

  3. Damn the international break indeed! Haven’t we just had one of those pointless games two weeks ago???

    Anyway, who can’t be happy with an away win at Liverpool? I agree that we are two teams in transition however it appears that Arsenal have settled more solid in midfiled than Liverpool. We did have a few scarey moments but overall I thought Diaby was the difference. He bossed it! If he can stay fit for the season I think our link play between back and front will be more effective.

    On the Pod, I think we have a gem there. Not only in attack, but his persistence in defence was great to see and well valued. If Giroud can just stick a couple in next time out I think we have the makings of a team.

    Don’t worry, I’m not counting any chickens!

  4. Im glad we didn’t get Sahin. He looked abit lost. I guess it was his first game in a long time.

    Im fairly happy with the transfer dealings even though we couldve used a bit more depth in case of injuries. I like the ones that did come through though coz they are quality especially that black frenchman bossing the midfield! The boss was right. He is definitely like a new signing!

    I cant wait for our midfield play once jack is back. Arteta, Diaby, Jack, Poldi/Chambo and Cazorla (Id play him in the flanks just to see this lot together) playing possession football will have opponents chasing shadows for 90 mins!

  5. Great Review Mark.

    Haha ! A man with no hair but fully loaded with defensive brain. He certainly deserves a lot of credit for the team’s steely performance so far.

  6. Let’s stay grounded chaps.

    Liverpool should’ve had the penalty (Per on Suarez), Sterling hit the post, Mannone was suspect to the high balls, and we gave clear shots on goal to Shelvey and Downing. Suarez had another couple of good chances he squandered.

    The result could easily have been different. I wonder if this was Howard Webb screwing with Liverpool for his favorite club – Man Utd.

    But we played well. We were solid at the back (mostly). And you can see we’ve improved defensively – which is a huge relief. Liverpool bossed us around the first 30 mins. And last season we would’ve conceded. Most importantly, it was pleasing to see that we (mostly) didn’t panic defensively.

    We got the first goal against the run of play, on the counter. We have some brilliant players, who were passing it around very very well and quickly. And after the first goal, we grew in confidence and Liverpool looked shocked. Their domination dropped. And then it was the Diaby and Cazorla show.

    But let’s not rest on this. Let’s try and play this resolutely every single game. If only Giroud would stop snatching at his shots.

    And there’s still the Kos, Sczczczczesny, Wilshere, Sagna, Rosicky and Frimpong to come back. Sumptuous !

  7. Nice review Mark
    personally despite all the hype about how
    Liverpool deserved more, I thought our lads were a better well organised team. The only team in the league not to have conceded a goal is fairly impressive and I am guessing one of my favourite players Steve Bould can take a lot of credit for that.

    It was also a good comparison of the free spending Liverpool who wasted a fortune on Downing, Henderson and Carroll. At least our less successful buys weren’t that expensive. Amazing that after 3 games Liverpool fans are lready demanding the managers head

  8. Nice write up Mark T.
    The team seems to have a bit more steel this year.
    A pleasant surprise I must say.
    More to come?

  9. nice review of the game…the small Spaniard was amazing as usual. Mr. Abou was sensational. with Abou snd Wilshere back, it will be like having 2 new signings. the team should continue working harder, the work is not done yet.

  10. Mark, what is your comment on this statement from Sagna …..

    “Sometimes in the street the fans talk to me. I can understand they are upset. I am just like them, I don’t understand everything.

    “At Arsenal you come back after holidays, you make preparations.

    “You see two players leave and the season resumes — it has been like that since I have been at the club. I am used to it now.

    “I am the last player from the 2007 starting XI remaining. In May, I watched Manchester City show off.

    “I watched at Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy lifting the trophy.

    “That gave me desire for it. Were they right to leave? Yes. But when they left, we didn’t know.”

    Sagna’s contract at the Emirates Stadium runs until the end of next season.

    And he added: “My own situation? At the end of the season, I will have one year remaining.

    “Has the club contacted me about an extension? No, no one.

    “Could I be tempted to leave? I just want to play again and be good again with Arsenal so far.

    “Then, we will see. Each person has his own destiny.”

    So the question, is the policy of Arseanl to let players contracts run down to one year left and then the club has very little bargining power. What is going on????????

  11. great review mark! I was wondering was Gibbs words to Giroud after his miss somewhat of a chastising or letting him know that he was right there and wanted him to pass the ball?

  12. @davem – No worries even if Sagna leaves . Arsene is re-building a new team without giving any open statements and above all i doubt the following players liked to be honoured as first choice and don’t like competition.
    Clichy – Gibbs obviously looked better than him
    Fabregas – Wilshere is the factor for him.
    VanPersie – Signing of Podolski and Giroud.
    Walcott – Ox effect
    Sagna – Jenkinson’s improvement.

    I think these two primarily left for Money

    Nasri – Money
    Song – Money .

  13. Guys lets not be foolish again here. He is just alerting us that the club are not planning to extend his contract so as to facilitate his quick exit and invite other clubs to buy.Sagna has no problem and to me he is amongst the most loyal players around. but i find it very difficult not to like Jenkins. He is fast ,has height and a good crosser of the ball. I am tempetd to think to Right back position is settled.He reminds me of Vanbuyten for B.Munich. Sagna is right to expose this rot by the club before fans are again shocked with another high profile exodus. Why hasnt Walcott been awarded a new contract as we all expected. They want him to leave in January. Walcott at the moment has about 9 months left on his contract and the club has remained silent. We love walcott he brings something different to the squad which others like Ox may not have. I cant doubt he is faster than the Ox.We need him for our new system of play especially counter attacking football most especially in Europe. We are going to see the best of Walcott in this new style of play as spaces will always be available on the counter attacks and we play Ox for teams that pack the bus. Tactically we need all our players around and even V.persie will be left wondering what he missed at the Emirates. In counter attcking football to perfection not even Manchester city can be guaranteed on points at the Emirates or Etihad. Lets just perfect the style and the fans will realise that it is not the players who are bad but its theplaying up the pitch that left us alwyas exposed at the back and we kept on demonising the defenders all time yet they are in reality good.

  14. Davem

    Am with you on that, the thought of Drogba laying all over our pitch just doesn’t appeal (great player tha he is). Both Bergkamp and Henry scored there first goal against the Saints. Let’s get behind Goroud, not kill his confidence after 3 games

    On the subject of pitches, during the international break (yawn) I was checking out some old games. Take a look at the Arsenal v Swindon 1969 league cup final, the pitch is unbelievable

    And lastly I see the traitor is injured. Hope it’s a Wilshire, Diaby type injury

  15. So Arsenal are hinting @ a new contract for wenger, EHHHHHH???
    I said a while back that we will really see if it is the board that is tight with money OR its wenger who is really the master mind behind Arsenal’s insistence in Buying players that cost 10 and 15mil (I know who is by the way)

    Most of you here blame the board when wenger is incharge of every footballing aspect from who he signs to the salary they get, so how could the board be responsible???
    I read some where today a quote from an Arsenal fan and he was making excuses for wenger

    ” city and chelsea dont win b/c of their coach. they win b/c of the investment the owners make on the team. there’s a big difference.
    Wenger is an amazing coach and if you give him city or chelsea…i think he would be able to pull off another unbeaten season”.

    The investment part can stand on it’s own BUT the coach part is the most RUBBISH i’v heard in quite a while, typical of Arsenal supporters.
    if mancini was a weak coach Mancity would never win the league and i can mention others.
    It’s quite shocking how wenger has turned Arsenal supporters into Accountants where everything is a profit.

    (Back to my original story)

    I know its early days yet BUT if wenger signs a new deal then it would confirm once and for all that he’s part of all that has gone wrong and totally in sink with Arsenal’s transfer dealing
    The club under wenger has DOUBLE STANDARD written up all over it, say one thing and do another.
    The football world has gone mad says wenger BUT look at his salary, how could you tell me to close the door when you leave the window AND the back door open.

    Defensively we look more organize this season in attack we have some issues, if i were to choose i’ll take this way over scoring a lot of goals because you can get 3 points for a 1 nill win.

    By round 10 we’ll have a better idea of where we are…….

  16. I guess we can allow them one goal if e can put away 6 at the other end. What I thought was good today was how hungry the subs were to get involved. They really are starting to look like a team and I may be wrong, but the likes of Podolski and Cazorla dont seem to have big egos. Hopefully we can lose that one player team label

    some interesting games coming up. but near the top and unbeaten after 4 games isnt to bad at all

  17. Let’s get the caveats out the way first before the Glass Half Emptys come on: yes we have only played four games, we haven’t had a real test yet, Giroud still hasn’t scored, we are only an injury away from DOOM etc!

    But I really like what I am seeing from the team. They really seem to be building up an understanding. Arteta in the more disciplined defensive part of the midfield looks fantastic. Cazorla and Podolski looking better each game and Coquelin was good too with some great passing. Also really enjoyed Ramsey coming on and contributing effectively. Deserved a goal.

    Am curious to see who Wenger rests in the Montpelier game. I would like to see Arshavin given a run – I think he may yet show that he has something different to offer in attack. Giroud up against his old team too. Hopefully he can break his duck.

    I flicked over to see the scores in the other games so missed Southampton’s goal! Szcsesny needs to watch out or he will find Mannone back in the team. His distribution was a bit sloppy on a couple of occasions too. But great result, lifts the goal diff and Man$ity next week for a proper test!

  18. Sandi has been a great buy . Watching him play illustrates what we missed last year, creativity in the midfield. Imagine how many more goals RVP could’ve scored with him?!
    Our defense has been solid so far ,the big test will be next week against Man city . The big German M scares at the back , he is so slow in his decision making, I am glad Aguerro is injured that could have been scary 1v1!. Can’t wait for Kos to get back in defense and partner Vermalin.

    Podolski is really starting to become comfortable with his new team and it shows. Especially the understanding between him and Carzola.
    Happy to finally see Gervinho play with a cutting edge and energy. That’s what we need from him,sitting on the bench , I am sure made him realise that he had to up his game!

  19. Terry,
    I think there is always a time for glass half full and half empty opinions…weve had the half empty for the last few years and they were justified in my opinion as the manager and board cudnt get the balance between our big name sales and suitable replacements right.
    The subsequent unrest and discontent from the paying fan finally led to action and the acquisition of the Artetas and Mertesackers has given way to competition in the squad and players like Walcott must now prove their worth every day in training and earn their place, as sulky as he looked yesterday it can only be a good thing.
    We now have Podolski, Giroud and the magician Cazorla in our squad aswel so finally for me I think the glass half empty mentality and fellow fan infighting has run its course.
    We may not win anything again this year but we are finally moving forward again and I actually think in a position where if we can keep the personnel we currently have I dont think we need to sign players for a while.
    Also agree with you about starting Arshavin, but give him the Cazorla role, and start Ramsey aswel…we now have the luxury or rotating Podi and Cazorla as they have the class to hold their form without having to play each game….great competition in this squad now but our away form will test us and Im looking forward to the test!

  20. I suggested earlier(after the two barren draws) we should attack running into the box(striker inclusive) and look how many goals we have scored since using this tactic. I’m very impreseed. Its like Wenger listens to me(kill urselves). It will be very hard to choose between Podolski(his workrate) and the sublime Cazorla(Rosicky & Arshavin’s younger brother) as our best player for the season.

    Look what competition for places is doing for everyone. Fans are so satisfied, everyone is very happy.

    Nobody seems to have mentioned that we experimented a new hybrid formation……Worked perfectly cos they seemed to have had a game plan for our former predictable formation. Is this a sign of Wenger giving up on his rigid tactics? H..l yeah. He should help them with some psychology(when we are 3, 4 goals up). it was sad to see us concede very cheaply.

    Is RVP missing us? NO! Cos he’s earning more than 3 times what Cazorla is earning(says a lot doesnt it). Wenger should be given a lot of credit for getting Cazorla and changing his rigid 4-3-3. It was nice to see us look intelligent after a very long time. Very refreshing indeed.

    Finally, I have always vouched for Coquelin (he’s improved a lot more than we think). Today was for Walcott and not Santos. Arshavin and Rosicky dont seem to get any look in, but whenever Cazorla is indisposed, we will definitely NEVER be reduced to bare bones again this season for sure. Sad to see Diaby not continue with his development, but this amazing win with my preferred midfield combination (albeit with different tactics) seems to say a lot.

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