Arsenal maintained their recent good run of form and dealt a big blow to Liverpool`s top-four hopes over the weekend. In the big games Arsenal have often been criticised for having to go a goal down before they start to get into the game.
This was not the case this time as the Gunners took control of the early stages of the game and could have been 2-0 ahead within the first ten minutes with Simon Mignolet making great saves to deny Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey. The back three of Liverpool did not look comfortable on the ball and gave it away repeatedly in the opening stages but these mistakes were not punished due to Arsenals lack of killer instinct in front of goal in the opening stages.
The away side started to grown into the game and began to control possession and create some of their own chances. They could have been 1-0 up against the run of play when Markovic was put through but his squared ball to Sterling was too far ahead of the Young Lions star and the chance was gone.
The game looked to be running towards half time with the goal-line scoreless before a flurry of 3 Arsena goals in the final 8 minutes of the half. The deadlock was finally broken on 37 minutes with young Arsenal right back Hector Bellerin cut inside and finished well with his left foot leaving Mignolet diving in vain as the ball nestled in the bottom corner. The second came from the Gunners German playmaker Mesut Ozil with the Gunners star finishing well from a free kick.
On the verge of half time Alexis Sanchez put the home side 3-0 ahead after a great first touch took him easily past a Kolo Toure challenge and he powerfully struck the ball past the away keeper.
Much was said about the fitness of Daniel Sturridge, the England front man was deemed not fit enough to start and the away side instead started with Raheem Sterling as the lone forward. For much of the first half Sterling struggled to get on the ball and was unable to get the ball and run at the Arsenal back line.
The two Arsenal centre-backs kept him quiet cutting out passes into his feet and winning the aerial duels. At the start of the second half Liverpool made a change and brought on Daniel Sturridge as Brendan Rodgers looked to try and claw a goal back. In the initial stages it looked like a good change with the front man providing good link up play trying to create chances for his team mates. The change also moved Sterling into more of a free role and he was able to run at the defence and cause Hector Bellerin problems.
Arsenal could be accused of taking their foot of the gas for much of the second half allowing Liverpool much of the ball and sat back and soaked up the pressure. The away side were awarded a penalty after a foul by Bellerin who was lucky not to recieve a red card for a second yellow card offense. Jordan Henderson stepped up and converted the penalty for Liverpool and caused some fans to become nervy in the home stands of the Emirates.
The game was put beyond doubt when Olivier Giroud scored his 7th goal in 6 league games in stoppage time with a well struck left-footed shot. The result takes the Gunners into second place with Man City set to play on Monday night.
Can the Gunners maintain their form and finish in the top two and possibly produce a late title challenge or will they run out of steam and finish in the usual 4th? Let us know what you think in the comments below.