Outstanding against Liverpool
Arsenal's "big test" has started well with a superb display against Liverpool. It is noticeable that, as Arsenal won the game in some style, Liverpool have now been dismissed by the media as nothing more than fodder. It's strange how Spurs were going to be a test up until we beat them, and the same can be said of Fenerbahce, Marseille, and now the scousers too. I dare say a 3-0 win in Dortmund would also be discounted because the Germans had a poor night, or something. And if we went to Old Trafford and beat them easily it would be down to Moyes and their "transition" rather than our own quality. I've learnt to take the media and their comments as nothing more than anti-Arsenal bile, but the lack of credit our players receive can be infuriating. The papers and the TV pundits are quick to put us down when we don't win, but never forthcoming with the praise when we do. It is always qualified in some way by commenting on the opponents perceived weakness. Even Arsenal's Invincibles never got the praise they deserved. Having said all that, I am happy for us to be continually written off as incapable of winning the Title. The longer the media ignores our credentials, the longer we can stay under the radar. Hopefully, by the time they realise Arsenal might be a serious challenger, we can still be flying high. Clearly there can be no proper judgements on this Arsenal team until at least Sunday evening, post Man Utd, but a bit of credit for the performance on Saturday would be richly deserved.
There were outstanding displays all across the pitch against Liverpool. I thought we started a bit slowly again, but once we got hold of the ball they simply couldn't get near us. Laurent Koscielny was getting most of the plaudits on the Sky commentary, but for me it was Mertesacker who was the boss in the Arsenal defence. For once he was attacking the ball in the air and winning everything. Considering how Sturridge and Suarez were supposed to give us so many problems ahead of the game I would say it was notable that their only opportunities of note came from Szczesny and Mertesacker lapses in concentration. It was a shame that the pair should make those errors late on in the game as they had both been superb to that point. Szczesny was dominating his penalty area, but he was so lucky to get away with his return to being too cocky. I don't want to see that again. It's so unnecessary for a goalkeeper to get in to that situation and it could have cost us.
In midfield I thought Mikel Arteta ran the show. There was one moment early on where he allowed Henderson to run in to the penalty area unchallenged, but aside from that he gave a master class. You'd be hard pushed to have known Steven Gerrard was even on the pitch - I'm not sure he moved off the halfway line throughout the game. Alongside the brilliant Arteta was Aaron Ramsey who was excellent again and capped it all with that superb goal to wrap up the three points. The pair of them set the tone, while Rosicky was pretty much at his energetic best, with Cazorla more involved than he had been in any previous game since his return. Cazorla's finish was that of a man with real quality as many players would have skied that volley on the run.
If there was a disappointment to be had then it was that Mesut Ozil was largely on the fringes again. Having said that he created the space and provided the pass to allow Ramsey to score, and could have had one or two of his own when we went forward late in the game. The work Giroud does in front of Ozil should see him getting more involved, for me, but I'm not going to get too concerned about him just now. I think it would be wrong to criticise, as such, any player from Saturday. The fact is that Arsenal were excellent and thoroughly deserved the win. Hopefully they can go to Dortmund with the confidence required to get a result out there. After a quiet performance at our place against his countrymen I am sure that Ozil will go out with something to prove in Dortmund.
Style and class, The Arsenal Way
The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the Arsenal players were dressed in new club suits before the game against Liverpool. Regular readers might remember that I told you this was going to happen in December last year, and again last month. I have to say I thought the new suits looked the dogs proverbials on the Arsenal players. It's been too long since we've seen it, with the ultimate low point being the 2011 Carling Cup Final when Arsenal arrived at a Wembley occasion in tracksuits. The idea for returning to a proper Arsenal look was that of Thomas Vermaelen and the skipper deserves immense credit for this. Hopefully we won't see dodgy training gear, paired with stupid earphones, ever again when players arrive to represent The Arsenal. I particularly love the Arsenal crest lapel badges - understated and classy. Very Arsenal.