By Walter Broeckx
A big surprise when the team news came out. Per Mertesacker was ill and so Calum Chambers came in his place. And to make things worse Koscielny has a back injury and thus Gabriel took his place.
So it was Santi Cazorla who captained the team. And Giroud made his 100th league appearance for Arsenal in this match.
Team that started: Cech, Bellerin, Chambers, Gabriel, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud.
The subs : Ospina, Debuchy, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott.
Liverpool with the brighter start and within 2 minutes Coutinho rattled the cross bar. At the other end Monreal with a good cross but the header from Alexis went over. Alexis with the next chance when Skrtel left the ball in the Liverpool penalty area under pressure from Özil but he couldn’t wrap his foot around the ball.
Then an Arsenal goal is disallowed for offside when Santi Cazorla found Ramsey who put it away. Replay shows that Ramsey was level. Arsenal being robbed and another offside decision going Liverpools way. Chambers then with a bad pass at the back direct at Coutinho but Coquelin with a great interception to prevent a Liverpool goal. Liverpool with a better spell then for a few minutes with again a few misplaced passes at the back by Arsenal players. And another chance for Liverpool after a bad pass at the back but Cech could stop the effort from Milner. Some uncertainty at the back in the Arsenal team visible during the first 25 minutes.
After a spell where we had to defend a lot we slowly came back out and tried to attack the Liverpool goal but Gabriel had to be quick to stop a counter attack from Liverpool that wasn’t ruled offside. It wasn’t offside but so wasn’t Ramsey. The match being very open but no real goal chances at the moment for either team some 15 to 10 minutes before half time.
And again Arsenal losing the ball in front of their goal leading to a big chance but Cech with a great save to stop Benteke. And Cech again after the resulting corner with a great stop. The Arsenal defenders really giving Liverpool too many chances for nothing. Lucky Coquelin, Gabriel and Cech being awake. Really some nerves at the back with some Arsenal players. And a minute before half time Arsenal having luck on their side when Coutinho has a shot that Cech can pary on to the post. Arsenal slightly lucky to go in at half time with the 0-0 result.
We almost shot ourselves in the foot on too many occassions with sloppy passes at the back and with nervous defending. Cech showing great class with a couple of vital saves to keep us level.
Both teams continue in open play but apart from Mignolet having to punch a cross away no goal keeper really in action in the first 5 minutes. Alexis on the right with a cross to Giroud but his shot is blocked by a defender. Arsenal now better and more attacking pushing Liverpool back but the shot from Giroud from outside the penalty area goes wide. Mignolet gets a warning but no card for time wasting. A good combination from Arsenal ends with a shot from Alexis that hits the post. Skrtel gets a card for pushing down Alexis on the flank. Arsenal pressing forward but a few shots in succession blocked by defenders. Ramsey with a pass to Giroud but he just couldn’t reach the ball. Gabriel then gets booked for holding Benteke on the turn. And Can for choping down Ramsey.
And again a good combination but Giroud cannot find the cross of Monreal. And a minute later Giroud on the turn but ompletely misses his shot and Mignolet can save the shot. Ramsey with a curling shot but Mignolet saves the goal bound effort. After 72 minutes Giroud is taken off and Walcott enters the field. Gomes gets a yellow card for tripping Ramsey when a promising attack could been the result.
Oxlade-Chamberlain prepares himself to come on but before that Cech had to make a save on a shot from Coutinho. Coquelin then goes off and the Ox comes on. Mignolet with some trouble to stop a shot from Ramsey that took as light deflection. The Ox with strong run and his cross is almost put in his own net by Skrtel. The shot from the Ox after the corner goes wide. Mignoet gets a yellow card for time wasting. Gabriel with a great interception in extra time when Liverpool was on a counter after Alexis gave the ball away. Mignolet with a great save on a low shot from the Ox. And from the resulting cross Gabriel heads over with Mignolet being nowhere.
So the match ends at 0-0. Arsenal struggled in the first half but the second half we pinned Liverpool back and had enough chances to score. Our defenders in the second half did a great job after their abysmal first half display. Nerves having settled down I think. Giroud had one of those days where you felt he wouldn’t score no matter what. Newcastle is warned.
We had enough chances in the second half to win the match. But of course we are left to wonder how the match would have gone if the assistant wouldn’t have helped Liverpool after 10 minutes with making a real bad decision. It was a simple decision to make but it seems that referees in Liverpool matches have some trouble in understanding the basid offside rules. And as against Bournemouth the decisions went in favour of Liverpool. Not that I put this down at the ref his feet but it sure is strange to see that the assistants mess up so badly when Liverpool is involved. And the error today had nothing to do with the new guidelines. Ramsey was onside and that was it.
Arsenal are now level with the team that was predicted to win the league on 4 points. City took the best start of all the teams but the league is still long.