Arsenal walked away from Anfield with 3 points after a real smash and grab performance courtesy of 2 goals from Robin Van Persie, gaining control of the race for 4thplace and going 10 points ahead of Liverpool who will be cursing their wastefulness in front of goal. The home side hit the post twice and missed a penalty in the first half, taking advantage of Arsenal’s appalling defending. They went ahead through a Laurent Koscielny own goal before Van Persie had his say, heading in a Bacary Sagna cross and volleying an inch-perfect lob from Alex Song past Pepe Reina.
Liverpool started brightly, hassling and harrying the Arsenal midfield who lacked cohesion and left massive gaps between each other. Henderson and Adam exploited these gaps to great effect, Henderson finishing the game with an 82% passing accuracy. Adam, however, became guilty of attempting the glory ball at every opportunity, especially towards the end of the game, putting 6 straight out of play. He also only created 3 chances and this is rather poor considering Liverpool had 12 corners.
The Arsenal midfield trio of Song, Arteta and Rosicky struggled to cope with the energy of the Liverpool midfield, Jay Spearing was particularly successful in disrupting Arsenals’ passing game with 4/5 tackles and 6 successful ground duels. Rosicky could have taken advantage of the times that Spearing pushed up, but failed to have much of an impact on the game. Mikel Arteta had a passing accuracy of only 78% (!), more than likely a season low for the Spaniard as his average is 90%.
Alex Song had an interesting game and one that quite typifies his season so far. In the first half he was clearly jaded, having only arrived home from international duty, and as a result was all over the place positionally, possibly a contributing factor to Arteta’s poor game as the two work in tandem. The Cameroonian made only 1 tackle. won 4/11 ground duels and was dribbled past twice. Going forward, however, he made a significant contribution with a 79% passing accuracy and creating 3 chances including the fantastic assist for Van Persie’s second.
This attacking improvement coincided with the introduction of Abou Diaby, who had an excellent… game (all 23 minutes of it). His ability to push forward and beat a man turned the tide in Arsenals’ favour and he finished up with 100% passing accuracy, 3/3 successful long balls, 2 dribbles, 1 interception and 1 shot on target after showing some quick feet and a deft touch.