Sideline comment: Podolski’s workrate, Arteta’s defending

Arsenal at Anfield was actually the first match of the season that I got to watch, and while I been reading all about Arsenal’s new found tightness at the back, I needed to see it with my own eyes in order to banish my usual nagging skepticism.

The defensive unit Arsene fielded was not first choice but they were admirable in their discipline. As Andy will surely point out; we’re the only team not to concede thus far, something consigned the realms of fantasy over the past six or so seasons. But it’s true; Arsenal actually looked noticeably stronger in defence and it immediately radiates confidence. Top marks to Wenger and Bould for prioritising an area that we were deficient in last season.

There were a few moments of classic Arsenal defending, Mertesacker passing the ball out of defence straight to the opposition once or twice in the first half. Thank god we had Arteta at hand to mop up the sloppiness. He was forced to take a yellow card to stop Liverpool from taking advantage of a poor Mertesacker clearance, but it was worth it.

While Cazorla and Diaby will rightly take a lot of accolades from the match (and I’m sure Andy will cover those guys in his wrap up), I was really impressed by the defending of Arteta. He was more than willing to track back and cover any bare patch of grass in front of the back four.

There was one occasion early in the second half where he switched off momentarily and it was telling that it almost led to a good opportunity for Liverpool. Otherwise he was flawless and it’s performances like these that soothe the pain of the departed.

I was also really pleased to see the defensive work rate of Podolski on the left, who was often seen dropping back when Gibbs ventured forward. I can’t recall the likes of Arshavin ever consistently doing that kind of work, so that’s a huge positive.

Arsenal will take a lot from this good performance. It was laughable to hear the words of some so-called football experts on Australian television coverage claiming that Liverpool threw the game away. The truth is, they were never in it despite statistics indicating otherwise – the only important one is the scoreboard anyway.

They were, of course, outstripped by Luiz Saurez in the ‘complaining to the ref’ department, but that minor niggle aside, it’s a great day to be a Gooner.



  1. I don’t think people noticed but Mertesacker was brilliant. He won everything in the air. On the ground, except for that one suarez incident, he was amazing. atleast three times liverpool players tried cutting in from the flanks but were stopped by Mertesacker. He easily stopped players with good footwork like Suarez and Gerrard easily. They could not just get past him!!!! And his last minute sliding tackle on Sterling was exquisite!!! The only department he needs to improve on is his passing. Other than that his positioning, tackling and heading abilities are amazing. Also with his height we finally have an alternative option

  2. Man I am a massive Gooner from Oz and I am ashamed of the coverage and in fact this morning was looking for somewhere to comment on them ad they were soo bad it was shocking.
    Mark Bosnich and Roobie Slater should be shot out back of Fox studios.
    They said pool were all over us and we were lucky. They didn’t mention diaby playing so well, forgot podolski work rate and just talked bout pool missing out. For god sake we won the game talk bout the team that won the game, not bout how much better they were and we were lucky.
    They touched on our champions league group very briefly, then moved on to pools Europa campaign and how they just got in etc. Slater supports liverpool so f*** him, Bosnich played for UTD and seems to think Fergie would actually remember him.
    Oh well that’s all we have to watch EPL on, shame indeed.

  3. Archit – I thought he was quite good overall, jsut a few small errors in the first half. Apologies if it seemed I railed on him – I’m a fan of the ol ‘Sacker.

  4. Even though 3 clean sheets is not yet a stick to rul the rest of the season, it is though an encouraging progress. Bould surely has shown he knows his job, but this is also added by the outstanding and disciplined Arteta, and a left midfield positioned striker who takes care of defending duties. Injuries side, we have cover on the bench in Szczesny, Koscielny, Sagna, Santos defensively, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey in midfield, Chamakh and Gervinho in attack.
    Now please don’t complain TW is left out – we really don’t need him actually.
    Get some bucks for him next transfer window, and invest the m into 2 or 3 talents pinched off from Barca or elsewhere.

  5. The commentators in Australia must be like the guys(on FOX-Barton and co) in the US- may have been ok footballers but crap analysts, and with a lot of anti-Arsenal bias.
    I was a little concerned about Jenks with a few stray passes out of the back. But he is willing to work hard, is keen and learning daily. Wenger never cease to amaze me.

  6. We watched the match from the fan club in Singapore and must say that Arsenal was very impressive at the back. Liverpool threatened at times but never came close except for hitting the post once.

    Suarez as usual, complains every time he falls but just isn’t efficient enough.

    Good to see that Poldi tracks back and provides cover and the midfield combination of Cazorla – Arteta – Diaby was magical.

    Ox played a bit of a tame game, think he still needs a few more starts under his belt before he can become a fully featured regular.

    In all, brilliant work and kudos to the management team for silencing the critics.

  7. @ VOXSPORTS – Remember it was Ox’s first game of the season. He provided pretty good cover for Jenko and his ball retention skills are excellent. He’s a footballer with a great understanding of where to move; when to attack and when to hold back. Got quite the brain on him and Theo’ll have a hard job of displacing him on a consistent basis.

  8. I am always an admirer of Arteta and this guy’s new role of DM and the way he covered and directing the play in the centre looks awesome.Podolski is giving us one more dimension of releasing Gibbs and the two switching places is great to watch.

    Spain coach might have a tough choice to make for Sergio Busquets or Arteta in future.

    Cazorla – I think Intel and AMD is reading this guy’s football brain to simulate them in their next generation of processors.Always a step ahead.

    I agree with Andy that OX is far superior to Theo.His presence allowed Diaby to flourish with ease.

  9. The back four look has solid as I have ever seen it under Wenger … Stevie Bould so far has worked wonders, that said there is still a lot of work to do. If you look back at yesterday’s fantastic performance the only trouble that was really caused was from our own making with two or three bad balls out from tha back by Mertesacker and Jenkinson ….. But on the whole the lads at the back where immense, and also probably without three key players who will improve us as well (Inclusing Szczesny)…

    I was disappointed that Lord Wenger did not dip in to the transfer market one more time, it is not that I don’t think he has put a strong side together , I just worry about injuries. We still look to me in need of one other class player up front, Giroud looks like he is settling in nicely but we need another option, just to keep the pressure on him and also if he goes a few more games without a goal. I was never a fan of him as a person at Chelsea but you have to say he was some player … How about Drogba on a one season deal ? …

    He is obviously happy and set up in London, would add an extra dimension, and we know the man can win games by himself still, as he proved on many occasions the back end of last season …. That said the idea kind of pains me to see him diving about in the red shirt … Any thoughts ?

  10. That was an impressive game from Arsenal…the new signings made their marks except Giroud who missed couple of chances but i think he still has something to offer though he looks quite good trying to hold the ball but he needs support.Carzola,Poldi,Jenks Gibbs,Mete,Arte,TV and not forgetting the great Diaby they did a commendable job to silence the critics.

  11. i was watching the game and in Singapore. I was watching Alan Curbishley and Andy Townsend with John Dykes. they were talking SO highly of Giroud’s off the ball movement and how he kept their defenders off and away, how he ran behind the defence without them knowing his position. but i didnt see any mention of it anywhere in any blog.

  12. Byo–After several seasons of watching Barton on Fox in the US I have concluded that he absolutely HATES Arsenal for some reason. You can actually see the pain on his face when he has to say something good about the Arsenal club!

    Someone who also deserves mention for his defensive effort is Giroud. I know that a striker’s job is to score and everyone is focusing on the fact that he has missed a couple of clear chances, but he had some massive clearances in the second-half on Liverpool set-pieces and ran himself ragged trying to pressure their keeper and back four to help out the midfield. He and his teammates still need to work on knockdowns and flick ons, especially on clearances out of the Arsenal back, because he won several that were picked up by Liverpool because there was no Arsenal player in the area. That’s something that will come with greater familiarity, but the effort that Giroud put in defensively was nearly as impressive for his position as Podolski’s effort was for his position.

    The kind of “dirty work” that Arteta, Podolski, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Giroud and Podolski put in against Liverpool often goes unnoticed and is under-appreciated by many fans. But, it is critical to winning matches, especially on the road. In US football there is a saying (I’ll clean it up a bit), “Offense puts behinds in the seats, but defense wins championships.” There’s a reason why one of the most recognizable phrases in Arsenal history is “One nil to the Arsenal”! I’ll take that result or the kind of effort and result at Anfield every match.

  13. To be honest I took the dog for a walk at half time so I would not have to listen to Bozza, Harps and Slater! But the match commentators we had included Stewart Robson. I don’t know if because he is ex Arsenal he tries too hard not to be biased, but it strikes me he has some kind of vendetta against Wenger and never prasies the team. I was wondering whether I was watching the same game as him because he kept saying how Liverpool dominated in all areas of the game (except for that minor detail about actually scoring goals). Liverpool created very little apart from a couple of chances down to our mistakes. My MoM would be Diaby with Arteta, Vermaelen, Caz and the Pod all excellent. Ox-C was not as influential as I hoped but he managed to keep the Liverpool left side (that Sterling looks a good prospect BTW) pretty quiet. Still have worries over Giroud but hope he’ll come good. And will be happier with Szseszny back in goal. Mannone was good but had a couple of flaps with high balls that could cost us against other teams.

  14. Diaby haters, please stand up!! Bwahaha

    The guy was all class! His dribbling, passing, tackling, ball retention, and defending was efficient and magnificent.

    Good to see Arsenal offense get out of second gear. The quick short passes in the middle of the park will definitely tire some legs. 3 clean sheets too!

  15. Yeah just reading back .. I forget to mention Diaby, he was outstanding yesterday, run the midfield from start to finish. If he can stay fit and keep up this form, then all credit to Mr Wenger ….

  16. @BrisVegas Gooner – Diaby Haters .Probably Terry has a list.Hope i am not in your list Terry.HaHaHa..

    @AmericanGunnerFan – I am with you on Giroud. He will become a big hit the moment he scores a goal.His movement ,positioning and game reading is excellent, only suffers with a lack of pace .Probably he deserve more credits when he scores and that’s why he was not able to score yesterday and probably lost in the Diaby,Podolski and Cazorla fame.

  17. There are those amongst us who have never doubted diabys ability, when he manages to string half a dozen games together he looks very impressive. Problem is it doesn’t happen very often

    I doubt this team is god enough to win the league, but they do look to me as if they are beginning to play as a team. Some of the great teams in the past (1971 double side are a good example) lacked superstars but made up for it by good teamwork.

  18. 1. Diaby is truly LANS. I could barely remember his play (it’s been almost two years), but yesterday’s performance is good for at least two years worth of memories. Many great moments for the highlight reel. Once he had no less than four markers closing in on him in mid-field and with what little time and space he had, he made a great outlet pass to the wing to keep the run of play going. Something which Iniesta does routinely, but magical to see this guy step up on the big stage at Anfield. (Whatever Liverpool’s current state, winning at Anfield is always a big deal IMO).

    2. I really detest Suarez.

    3. Our third clean sheet with the THIRD back-up goalkeeper. I may change my name to 2NiltoTheArsenal just for that. Lots of bloggers have commented on the improved Arsenal defence, but what struck me most was the confidence and poise.

    4. Ramsey coming off the bench looked less confused and panicked though his quality compared with the amazing Cazorla is quite a contrast. I remember yet another stunning through ball from Cazorla right to Ramsey’s feet. Ramsey’s follow on pass to Podolsksi who was well set up for a shot forced the German wide and killed the attack. Whatever. I remain a strong Ramsey supporter and it was great to see the kid have a decent outing for a change.

    5. Suarez is the most detestable player in the Premier League this side of John Terry?

    6. Some supporters have been giving Giroud stick, but until he finds his scoring boots which he inevitably will (much sooner than Torres no doubt), his work rate is also impressive and he was good defensively as well.

    7. Vermaelen excellent again yesterday, though is penchant for playing forward will burn us for goal or two if we aren’t careful.

    8. Finally, I have I mentioned how much I dislike Suarez?

  19. @1NiltoTheArsenal I share your disgust on Suarez. The blatant diving and whining, he should have been sent off! Hats off to Howard Webb for not falling for his bluffs! He deserved a yellow or two!

    I just thought we had a couple of nervy moments when Per and Jenko started giving balls away in the Liverpool box other than that, it was a pretty solid performance. Jenkinson played well again defensively IMO. Maybe its bould, Arteta or maybe its Per guiding him? Its working though! But the left side combo of Podolski and Gibbs are looking pretty good.

  20. I’m happy with podolski scoring, during the european championship he lacked his killer abilities , and you know, I’m German, so that I’m a bit more involved with German players 🙂 😎

  21. do you guys think that Giroud would be able to deliver for us this season?
    i throw this to the house for an open debate : Chamakh or Giroud…who is better?

  22. @iloveverminator – Please be patient for another 4 or 5 games . You will get the answer you need.Your question may change like. “Will Giroud be our top goalscorer for our season”.

  23. iloveverminator
    September 4, 2012 at 2:47 am #
    Chamakh or Giroud…who is better?

    If we are rating on hairstyles, it’s not even a contest is it? As for playing ability, it’s not much different. Giroud is the real deal. He’ll bust his cherry soon, and I’m confident we’ll see at least 17-18 goals from him this season. I’m already anticipating our first Champions League match on Sept. 18th. Will Wenger start Giroud?

  24. My hero is definitely Podolski. MoM by a mile. What a hardworker. I said we should run into the box(striker inclusive) if we want to score and this is exactly how our two goals came. AMAZING STUFF. Diaby was immense, almost had an assist too(If only Giroud scored it). Beautiful beautiful game of football.

    The fit Diaby we know turned up yesterday. Good to see him run. He made the midfield look mobile. He definitely has the ability, but the real diaby(who I said runs and shoots) only turned up yesterday. He was too slugish in the first two games. For some who dont read my posts properly (before castigating), my advice would be to READ again. Thank you.
    For others who feel we should not criticize a sluggish player when plenty others who can do the job are kept on the bench………..well, I rest my case.

    Cazorla was sublime as usual, got an assist and scored one too. He is definitely our icing on the cake. If Diaby continues like this, Arteta can be allowed to continue shielding the defense. He was rock solid.

    Giroud is by far better than chamakh for all who care. His off the ball movement is superb, talk-less of the fact that he runs fast and shoots very well too. We can be patient with him and wait for his luck to come cos of the simple fact that he has the centre forward qualities necessary.

    I’m thinking Wenger is keeping Walcott as our second choice CF. Maybe it is for freshness(which would really be sweet to know). We definitely need our strikers fresh for the end of season run in.

    Need I talk about the defense? Was good to see Santos come in though. Jenkinson also deserves special mention, always liked him.

  25. @ billi – Just wondering, is there more interest in Germany for Arsenal because of the Germans? Or are you guys too busy with your Mainzs, Dortmunds and Borussia Moenchengladbachs?

  26. Daragh,
    Bang on about Podolskis workrate and also the Ox didnt shirk his responsbilities either…when you compare that to Arshavin qnd Walcott you can see why this was something Id moaned about on here forcso long. For some reason Walcott and Arshavin were told they didnt have to get back and help out and this saw us suffer in two ways, one being the obvious susceptibility to crosses and flank overlaps whilst the other is somethi that went unnoticed by me for ages which is this; if Arsha or Theo lose the ball in the offensive third and amble back to the halfway line they are then static but more importantly they are receiving the ball back to goal in a position on the field that we should be mounting a counter attack from having won back the ball. Podolkis goal yesterday is a direct result of his application to the TEAM, the fact that he was so deep i our half enabled him to spring forward at pace and play that one-two with Caz. I hope this ses a return to the quick counter attack we were once renowned for.
    Arteta is becoming my favourite player I didnt know he was capable of playing the role he is at the moment..having watched him at Everton I thought he was their go to guy, their Fabregas say, but the desire and tenacity hes shown for us has been impressive…fit, strong and hungry, I think he was recently rewarded or had his contract upgraded but he really has risen to the challenge of playing for Arsenal and is a key man…and hes saying all the right things aswel.
    Just have to say I really enjoyed the two newboys celebrations, you could tell how much it meant for them to get off the mark, next up Giroud, who I have no doubts whatsoever will come good.
    Oh yeah .well done Diaby, virtuoso display.

  27. @Voley Gun – no I don’t have a list! But there were a couple of posters out there who were a bit quick to judge Diaby on the basis of one or two games. Me I just like the whole idea of redemption and someone coming back against the odds after such horrific run of injuries that I just want to take pleasure from his performance. Don’t want to get carried away though – he could go away for France and get cleaned up by an Estonian weightlifter or something (haven’t checked who is on France’s group!) , or come back and have a complete shocker in our next outing!

    Finally to Mr One Nil can I just say how appalled I am at your attitude to to Suarez. How can you ever think he as despicable as John Terry?! But he’s certainly in my top three along with JT and Joe Barton! Imagine those three playing in the same team…

  28. I understand why some people say Liverpool threw the game away. But it can be argued for and against.

    Reina should’ve saved Cazorla’s shot. And Poldi’s strike went from under Johnson’s boot, Reina could’ve saved that as well. Plus Suarez was denied a clear penalty. Liverpool hit the post. and both sides had a number of chances.

    The first 30 minutes it was Liverpool that bossed the possession and we were defending to keep out the danger. Then the goal came on a counter and shocked everybody. From then on, it became a much more equal encounter. And we grew and grew.

    But let’s not kid ourselves. The result could easily have been different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to see we’ve improved defensively and some of our one-touch passing was awe-inspiring. Let’s hope we can continue to play well against all kinds of teams; teams like Liverpool who are more willing to play football, as well as teams like Stoke and Sunderland who are only willing to park the bus. If we want to win the title, we’re going to have to grind out wins from games like Stoke and Sunderland where we could only manage a draw. The signs are that we had chances in those games and should’ve come out winners, so it looks good, hopefully once the teams has a few games under its belt, we should start to do just that. But like Southampton against Man Utd where Southampton were leading, Manutd came from behind to win the match – that’s the kind of resilience we need to show.

  29. I’m too busy with my work (shift work and weekend work) 😉 and I’m just a bit worried about Podolski flopping at Arsenal, it’s a question of reputation, he represents the German national team at a certain degree, I just feel a little bit like that :mrgreen: 😎

  30. @tytee lol you mean rvp came back and won at southampton.just kidding lol

    All jokes aside,back to thee arsenal,once giroud starts fireing we will put doubt into any team.

    1. If arshavin gets confidence comming of the bench,we all know this guy is quality,with that said the winger which is willing to track back will get the nod to start,and ipod and oxlade in that sense will probably remain,

    2. Gervinho and walcott on bench, great players ,if they are in the mood on the day.

    3. I want chamakh to try and shoot,the holding up play and good in air is good and well,put u a striker,u must have killer instinct,watch gladiator or brave heart anything,get inspired and become a killer infront of that box

    4. The verminator and bosscielny —— somebody get me the guitar we need a song for that SOLID BACKS

    5. wenger please extend sagna’s contract

  31. Good Post D.M.,
    Diaby was awesome as are 3 count ’em 3 clean sheets.
    Can we keep it up?
    What about the 2nd unit? (It’s a long old season you know)
    Cazorla is good money spent! (Andre are you listening?)
    Now for 3 points from the Saints.

  32. Arsenal is doing well unlike last season first 5 games(: arsenal need more of a fox in the box than a finisher, all the crosses from gervinho, walcott and others are not putting the ball into the back of the net. Podolski is playing o.k i guess, Carzola is excellent, ball control, quick feet, speed, a hell of a shot and vision and amazing passing, all u need in a good midfield, Giroud needs some time to settle in. Arsenal must chase after a winger if Walcott leaves, maybe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.