The first patch of the tough part of the schedule has begun for Arsenal, and they passed it with flying colors. It wasn’t a perfect display of football and dominance for 90 minutes, but that’s impossible against the stronger batch of rivals they’re facing in the coming weeks and months. However, this kind of ability from the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla will be enough to keep them in the top spot.
The two scorers for Arsenal in the 2-0 win over Liverpool were also their best players. Enjoying some weird choices made by Liverpool in their starting lineup, Arsenal had the opportunity to show the quality of its midfield, even without Mathieu Flamini to provide a defensive force or the injured Jack Wilshere, forcing Arsene Wenger to use all of his cards right off the bat.
It worked. The pace and accuracy of the Arsenal midfield was too much for their rivals. They didn’t even need too great of a match from Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud. Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta pushed from behind, Santi Cazorla provided the creativity from the wing, as the Liverpool formation couldn’t cope with the pace from Arsenal’s passing and movement.
It couldn’t be all about attacking flair and creativity. Laurent Koscielny woke up on his good side, which meant no rash challenges or confusing decisions from the French centre back, who had the unfortunate assignment of marking Luis Suarez for most of the match. The Uruguayan striker did escape him a time or two, but in general, wasn’t able to pull off his usual antics of dragging defenders all across the pitch and finding himself open too many times inside the box.
But there’s also a downside to all of this – Liverpool aren’t the kind of team that Arsenal will eventually battle for the title with. The Reds have enjoyed a stronger than usual start to the season, but they aren’t of the quality we’ve seen from Dortmund and Chelsea, two teams Arsenal have lost to over the last couple of weeks. Liverpool don’t have the depth or the quality in the midfield to cancel the speed in which Arsenal play when they’re at their best, which makes this win a meaningful one, but not the kind that erases all doubts about Arsenal’s title legitimacy.
However, Arsene Wenger had to be pleased with what he saw. Not the finishing that could have been better from Giroud, helping Simon Mignolet prove once more that he might be the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season, or from Mesut Ozil, who is almost perfect when he has to make decisions outside of the box but something changes in him when it’s a bit closer to goal, for the worse.
It was also weird to see Arsenal faking injuries near the end, especially coming from Kieran Gibbs, who felt like he hurt himself after he went across the goalline. He then entered the pitch on purpose to fall down there and eat a few more minutes off the clock. Liverpool didn’t stop the play, and Bacary Sagna always got himself in the wrong kind of situation by confronting Liverpool players.