Monday, 3 September 2012
Seven conclusions from Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2
Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2
1) If we insist - rightly - on giving new signings a chance, then it's pretty inconsistent to jump to extensive conclusions too quickly. Have Arsenal looked better defensively in the first three games of the season? Yeah, absolutely.
But to argue that this mean we now have the best defence in the League is not so much over-egging the point as scrambling it (if you'll forgive the terrible metaphor).
On two counts it seems a little presumptuous. First, Sunderland didn't even attempt to attack, and yet Szczesny had to save us early on from arguably the clearest chance of the game. Against Liverpool, we conceded 15 shots on goal - one fewer than in the corresponding fixture last season, when we were completely outplayed. Granted Borini did seem to want to shoot from any position, but even so those are high numbers.
On top of the number of shots conceded, some of the distribution in the opening half an hour from Mertesacker and Jenkinson was truly calamitous. I'm not saying the team is poor defensively - it's not; but equally, we shouldn't rest on our laurels.
And this hints at the second point: let's wait until we play a strong attacking team before getting too excited.
2) Talking of Liverpool's attack, it can't be long before attention turns to Luis Suarez, again. His goalscoring record isn't bad - one every three games - but his chance conversion rates are absolutely dire. He's been protected from criticism for his footballing performances by Andy Carroll's price-tag, but Suarez was signed for a hefty 23 million pounds, and really needs to deliver more. The chance he missed late on - while unlikely to have changed the result - was really one he should have taken.
3) Considering how often I complain about decisions going against us, it's worth emphasising how lucky we were not to concede a penalty early in the second half. Yeah, Suarez has a reputation for going over easily but Mertesacker was all over him in the box. On another day, Liverpool would have had a penalty and it might have been a completely different result. Football rests on these small margins.
4) As obvious a point as this is, Abou Diaby was absolutely outstanding yesterday. There are few finer sights in football than watching him stride forward imperiously with the football, and he had ample opportunity to do this, creating several chances in a man of the match display.
Raphael Honigstein tweeted last night that three years ago Wenger said Diaby was the most talented player in the squad. That might be an exaggeration, but I'm still delighted to have Abou back and playing like he can.
5) What next for Theo Walcott? It's hard to believe that Arsenal kept him unless he will sign a new contract, but can the increased terms really be countenanced? His record last season was inflated by playing with a striker as good as Van Persie, and few would suggest picking him currently ahead of Chamberlain or, dare I say it, Gervinho.
I've long failed to 'get' Walcott, and while he's clearly a useful player, I certainly don't think he should be one of - if not the - highest paid players at the club.
Also, as long as Sagna remains injured, Jenkinson doesn't provide the overlap Theo desperately needs to take on a full-back - which could deter Arsene from picking Walcott in the short-term. It's certainly a situation I'll watch with interest.
6) A couple of weeks ago, I thought that Liverpool looked like they could challenge for the top four if they kept their squad and brought in some attacking talent. Instead, they let Andy Carroll go, signed nobody, and look bereft of ideas. Good news for Arsenal in the race for fourth place.
7) Outside Anfield, there is a statue of Marouane Chamakh - the invisible man. When the other two senior strikers at the club start and Chamakh can't even get in the match squad, I do wonder what that says about Wenger's appraisal of Chamakh's talents. And yet, surely, we'll need him to play 15 games this season. Distinctly odd.