Match Reaction: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. FRAN MERIDA: Delivered a brilliant left footed strike to open our account early on against Liverpool…a truly spectacular effort!. Looked very bright with his touches: his passing was incisive and his dribbles were slick. I felt that Merida along with Nasri and Ramsey just completely bossed the midfield for the entire match.
I also liked the shape and pace of Merida’s Corner Kicks and Free Kicks…they were full of power and with a nasty dip on them. I’d been wondering why his progression into the first team had been stalled and today’s effort was definitely a statement to Wenger that he is ready to fight for major minutes next season.
#2. NICHOLAS BENDTNER: Great up tempo game from the Dane, saw him hustling all over the pitch…winning loose balls and putting the Liverpool defenders and midfielders under constant pressure with his dribbles and movement off the ball. His goal was a thing of beauty that featured a very rare lovely first touch that enabled him to dance around Skrtel into space and unleash a heavy shot from 12 yards out that was crushed into the top of the net past the on charging Liverpool ‘keeper. Unstoppable.
#3. MIKEL SILVESTRE: I guess pigs do fly after all. I felt “the geriatric” delivered a lot of intelligent defending especially late in the first half when he timed a perfect sliding tackle to snuff out Voronin’s run deep in our 18 yard box. In the second half he did a lovely job of sussing out the threat at 62 mins when he made a critical sliding tackle to blow up a Liverpool counter-attack that had DANGER written all over it. Later on, it was an excellent reaction from Silvestre when he nipped in at the last moment to strip the ball from Ryan Babel in our 18 yard box when he was threatening our net late.
SAMIR NASRI: He looked absolutely sparkling every time he touched the ball…nice penetrating dribbles, good vision and pitch awareness as he sprayed the ball around to his teammates and helping to ignite attacks on the Liverpool net. Early in the second half he showed his return to fitness with his long lung busting run to get onto the end of a deep through ball from Ramsey down the right flank.
Nasri then proceeded to drop some mad skillz on the 2 Liverpool defenders, that came out to close him down, and in the process opened up acres of space for himself to drive the net and get his cross over. Just magical stuff from the Frenchman. Welcome back Samir…hope you see some action this weekend in the Derby match against Spurs.
AARON RAMSEY: I felt he did a great job bossing the mid-field along with Nasri and Merida. In my opinion Ramsey looked a little like Cesc out there…the way he worked the ball to both flanks and constantly brought his teammates into the action. I saw a huge increase in confidence and field presence from Ramsey…really hope he can use this match as a template and really build on it in his future appearances for the club.
KERREA GILBERT: Honestly haven’t seen much at all from Kerrea prior to this match…so i was definitely impressed with his rock steady performance all night. He kept the right flank clear of any danger all match, to the point that Liverpool focused their attacks down the left flank against the more experienced Gibbs. Such was the quality of Gilbert’s defending.
At the start of the second half Gilbert showed off some gorgeous 1 on 1 defending against Babel deep in our end. Gilbert refused to be beaten by Babel’s trickery or size as he stood strong and reacted quickly to the danger and even came away with the ball from this exchange. Gilbert certainly played above his age and lack big game experience tonight.
LUKASZ FABIANSKI: He did have some nice saves in the match, in particular when he got low to smother Babel’s hard rasping F.K. in the second half that was tracing towards the far right corner. However, he looked completely asleep on the long 25 yard shot from Insua that he completely made a mess of at 26 minutes. He absolutely needs to get a hand on that ball and tip it over the bar…that was poor keeping in my book.
I think this victory was very important for the club. While it is true that with the exception of Nasri this was not our starting XI, the win does help restore some sense of confidence and self belief in the squad after 2 very disheartening late draws on the road last week against West Ham and AZ. With a vital Derby match against Spurs on tap this weekend…it is crucial that the squad is feeling positive going into that match. So for that, I thank the Young Guns for doing their duty and winning an important match against a tough opponent and boosting our morale in the process. Our young midfield and left and right backs all looked superb.
The battle for spots and pitch time with the starting XVI looks set to become extremely fierce next season as players like Merida, Ramsey, Gibbs, Gilbert, Wilshire and Traore all look to make their impact upon the squad. I can forsee some player movement coming this summer as Wenger looks to juggle the roster in order to facilitate the young up and coming players in our midfield and backline by loaning them out or by moving out some of the older players. Either way…today’s match showed The Arsenal’s true level of depth, quality and class. I feel very fired up for this weekends Derby…can’t wait to see the lads deliver a real beat down at home on Tottenham.
As ever I remain,
GUNS IN GUNS OUT