|MAN OF THE MATCH
Arsenal 2-0 Liverpool
It was the match between the top 2 in the Premier League prior to the weekend’s results. Arsenal and Liverpool, have both exceeded expectations by being where they are in the league table. Liverpool are in involved in Europe this season and have more rest time in between matches, buoyed by the burgeoning partnership of SAS (Suarez and Sturridge). Meanwhile, this was Arsenal’s 5th match in 15 days.
Arsenal emerged victorious through goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey, to prove their title challenge credentials. The SAS partnership never got going as supplies to them were cut off. Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson couldn’t influence their team’s attacking display as much as they do in other matches. Much of it down to the work of one particular Arsenal midfielder.
Mikel Arteta wore the armband one again as Thomas Vermaelen remained on the sidelines and led by example. While many Arsenal fans rue the unavailability of Mathieu Flamini, they can’t grumble when the other option is Arteta. Disciplined in his role, Arteta stuck to his task of protecting Arsenal’s back four and ensure that no Liverpool runners from midfield can get through.
Arteta is also there to facilitate Arsenal’s efficient and quick passing game. He’s the base at which to move the possession from defence to midfield. Someone to keep the machine ticking on, Arteta can be equipped to the wheels inside of a clock. The fact that Arteta doesn’t waste possession, ensures Arsenal remains on the offensive as much as possible.
Arteta made 106 passes yesterday and completed 100 of it. He made 13 ball recoveries, almost all exclusively in his half. He won 7 out of his 9 tackles and more importantly, wins all of those that are in and around his own penalty box area. Such statistics easily made Arteta the most influential player in Arsenal’s side yesterday and pivotal in ensuring that Arsenal remained top of the pile.