Not what Arsene Wenger dreams of, but three matches into the Premier League season, Arsenal are undefeated, with 5 points, and have yet to concede a single goal. Not exactly matching all expectations, especially not when it comes to style, but the 2-0 win at Anfield over Liverpool proved that there are happier days waiting just ahead down the road.
Again, it wasn’t a great performance from Arsenal. Nothing special during possession and nothing from the fantastic passing game we’ve gotten used to see from this team when they play their style of football. Liverpool were the better side up until the final 20-15 meters, creating more chances and looking more dangerous.
But their final touches were bad, or simply not good enough to beat a fantastic Vito Mannone and a focused and solid centre back duo of Tomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker. Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson were unusually clinical with their defending, unlike their usual erratic performances.
The interesting things happened a bit more on the offensive side. Santi Cazorla has completely taken over the playmaker role, and it’ll be interesting to see how Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky fit into the grand scheme of things once they return from injury. Mikel Arteta has been turned into a defensive midfielder, hardly influencing the match when it comes to offensive touches, but you can’t argue with the 0 near the conceding column.
Lukas Podolski finally showed what he was brought to Arsenal for. His direct approach, fantastic passing and finishing skills. He won a loose ball of Steven Gerrard, sent it forward to Cazorla and blasted forward, unmarked, to score Arsenal’s first goal of the season. Podolski isn’t a classic winger, but he adds something that Arsenal usually lack from their forwards. A killer instinct. He might not be as talented as Robin van Persie, but Podolski isn’t going to disappoint.
Wenger’s third big signing of the summer, Olivier Giroud, is a different story. The tall French striker finds it hard adjusting to his new team and the English game. He does get an opportunity here and there but so far, both his mobility and what he does with the ball, usually not under too much pressure, is far less than satisfactory. Time and patience are a must with new players, probably more than others when it comes to strikers, but Giroud has a lot riding on his shoulders, being the only true striker Wenger has to use.