Sep 2, 2012, 10:49 AM EDT
Man of the Match: He’s Arsenal’s joint-record signing, but today, Santi Cazorla looked like a bargain. He led the counter on Lukas Podolski’s 35th minute opener (earning an assist), and a carving, circular run allowed Podolski to return the favor in the 68th, with Cazorla scoring his first Arsenal goal.
Packaged for takeaway:
- There aren’t many teams in the Premier League who will match Arsenal’s possession game, but at halftime, Liverpool had held the ball for 52 percent of the time. Not that the advantage translated to the scoreboard. The Reds went into the dressing room down one.
- The goal came after a bad giveaway from Steven Gerrard, a poor touch conceding possession that was quickly turned into a counter. The error was part of a frustrating day for the captain, a series of poor giveaways making Saturday Gerrard’s worst performance of the young season.
- In contrast, a number of Arsenal players stepped up to get the team’s first points of the season. Lukas Podolski, Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby, Thomas Vermaelen and Per Mertesacker were all particularly strong.
- Mertesacker may have given his best performance in an Arsenal kit, but there were still two nervy moments – moments that showed the big German may never be able to contain the Premier League’s elite attackers:
- In the sixth minute he earned a yellow card, forced to pull down Luis Suarez to prevent the Uruguayan from going in on goal.
- In the 51st minute, Suarez raced past him while attacking a Gerrard cross, with Mertsesacker slightly lucky that Howard Webb was the man blowing the whistle.
- Mertesacker’s not going to wake up one day with average foot speed. This is going to be a persistent problem for Arsenal. Even on his good days, Mertesacker can be exploited.
- Though Liverpool saw a lot of the ball, they rarely threatened Vito Mannone(again in for the injured Wojciech Szczesny):
- When Suarez wasn’t racing past Mertesacker, he was losing the ball.
- Fabio Borini’s up to eight Premier League appearances without a goal (despite 15 in 33 games in Italy and the Championship).
- Raheem Sterling (17 years old) looked a bit too raw to make an impact in these types of matches.
- Liverpool’s lack of Deadline Day action came under scrutiny, and their lack of attacking depth was evident on Sunday. Chasing the match, Brendan Rodgers’ substitutes were Stewart Downing and Jonjo Shelvey. The other options on the bench were three defenders, a goalkeeper, and Jordan Henderson.
- Rodgers may be able to get his team back into Europe, but right now, this is not a top seven squad.
- So there’s a lot for Liverpool supporters to be discouraged about after this one. The lack of chances, depth, and points should leave Reds feeling much worse today than after their draw a week ago.
- And in the immediate future, things don’t get much easier for Liverpool. Next week they’re at Sunderland. Then they welcome Manchester United to Anfield, with a Europa League date in between. Will 0-3-2 start (or worse) be enough to start the panic columns? The real ones (not the knee-jerk pieces we’ll see over the next 24 hours).
- For Arsenal, the match is a relief. Finally: goals. Finally: a win. And finally: They look like a team that can play to their players’ reputations.
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