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Arsenal 2, Liverpool 0: First Thoughts

Arsenal were superior throughout as a first-half goal from Santi Cazorla and a second-half stunner from Aaron Ramsey sent Arsenal five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Laurence Griffiths

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Arsenal 2 Cazorla 19', Ramsey 59'
Liverpool 0

  • So, let's talk about Jon Flanagan. Rodgers put the 20 year-old youngster in which was quite a surprise but in the early going, Flanagan didn't have too much to do as a lot of the attacking play was focused down Arsenal's right and Liverpool's left respectively. The youngster has always been a determined character but the move was a big risk. Interestingly, the bigger problem was Cissokho who had an extremely poor first half.

  • One of the problems with 352 is that your wingbacks need to be good on the ball going forward and be able to create chances. Players like Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique can thrive in these positions but putting straight fullbacks puts a lot of attacking pressure on the centre of the side to create chances. Today's game displayed the difference between fullbacks who are just fullbacks and fullbacks with the ability to play as a wingback. Perhaps it is time to move back to 4231/433 if the required wingbacks aren't available to present legitimate attacking outlets for the side. Gibbs and Sagna facing Cissokho and Flanagan is will always find it easier than facing Moses and Coutinho or Johnson and Enrique. Furthermore, Liverpool had no combination options out wide in attack. Imagine Coutinho working with Enrique on the left and Johnson dovetailing with Henderson or Moses on the right. There is a big difference. Performances also come into question and Flanagan has been far more reliable than Cissokho in defence as well as attack. Sometimes it may be a matter of the right formation to face a certain opponent and at other times it could be a case of players performing their roles to satisfaction throughout the match.

  • When Kolo Toure has to continually step into midfield then there may be an issue worthy of further examination. When he looks superior to the three who are tasked to compete in midfield then it wouldn't be hasty to suggest that there is a serious problem in that area. Liverpool conceded a goal in the first half from the instant reaction by the wonderfully two-footed technician, Santi Cazorla. Yet one of Arsenal's magicians was not picked up by the midfield in the lead-up to the opener. We need to talk about Gerrard and the midfield.

  • Liverpool started the second half brightly but once Arsenal regained control of the game, Wenger's side created a couple of clear chances before Ramsey scored an excellent goal from distance. Henderson was desperately poor and Gerrard was invisible. Lucas Leiva had one of his poorest performances in a Liverpool shirt for quite a while but his presence in the midfield usually helps others carry out their jobs to the standards required of the club.

  • Cazorla and Ramsey were excellent today and Arsenal provided a masterclass in how to press, keep the ball, remain composed in and out of possession, unearth the right passing angles, and counter quickly. Liverpool were taught a lesson but that doesn't mean we don't have good players. Gerrard isn't useless, Lucas has recovered to be a vital cog, and Henderson often complements others. Arsenal were better and the season so far has shown that many of the league's more illustrious sides will lose quite a few games this season. We hope that Brendan Rodgers learns from this game and makes the necessary changes for a side that currently lies in third place in the Premier League.

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season. To share your thoughts on the goings on elsewhere in football today, head on over to the early Saturday open thread. We really do spoil you folks.

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