Impressive Arsenal too slick for Liverpool

Arsenal ended their goal scoring duck in impressive fashion as they outclassed Liverpool to secure an impressive 2-0 win at Anfield.

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Impressive Arsenal too slick for Liverpool
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Arsenal's Lukas Podolski (R) celebrates his goal against Liverpool with Per Mertesacker

New boys Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla both opened their accounts for Arsenal either side of half-time while Liverpool's transfer deadline day inactivity came back to haunt them as they had limited options to try and change things.

Nuri Sahin made his debut in midfield for the Reds but it was Arsenal's midfield that bossed proceedings with a fit-again Abou Diaby putting in a man of the match performance.

Liverpool meanwhile had no clear-cut attacking options on the bench, with Stewart Downing and the admittedly impressive Jonjo Shelvey the best they could do in the way of attacking substitutions.

Brendan Rodgers has tried to implement a passing policy at Liverpool, but just as last week when Martin Skrtel was guilty of an error that led to a goal, it was a misplaced pass that led to the Arsenal opener on the half hour.

An uncharacteristically off-colour Steven Gerrard was the guilty party this time as he gave the ball away cheaply while Liverpool were attacking, allowing Arsenal to burst forward on the counter.

Cazorla dribbled impressively to the edge of the area and with a dummy run from Oliver Giroud to his right creating space, the Spaniard was able to slip the ball to Podolski on the left instead and the German finished impressively after making a fantastic run.

Arsenal really should have doubled their advantage in the 41st minute in similar fashion when Diaby powered forward magnificently from deep in his own half before playing in Giroud. But the French striker made a woeful hash of his shot, slicing wide of the left post and earning an earful from Podolski as a result.

Liverpool were doing just as much attacking as Arsenal but did not have nearly the same fluidity in the final third.

The one exception to that rule was the livewire teenager Raheem Sterling, who was Liverpool's best performer. He hit the outside of the post with Liverpool's best first-half effort after slickly spinning inside the box to create the chance for himself.

The second-half followed a similar script to the first. Arsenal didn't dominate possession, but used the ball so much better than their hosts with Arteta and Diaby conducting proceedings from deep.

Even their full-backs were getting forward with Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson both forcing Pepe Reina into saves.

To be fair to Liverpool they did have a decent shout for a penalty when Per Mertesacker seemed to man-handle Luis Suarez inside the box early in the second-half, but the Uruguayan's reputation and willingness to drop to the floor theatrically clearly did him no favours as referee Howard Webb waved play on.

Arsenal deservedly doubled their advantage in the 68th minute after a lovely passing move but after his spill against Hearts in midweek, questions will again be asked about Pepe Reina.

Cazorla finished a one-two with Podolski with a shot from the left half of the box that Reina seemed to have got down to save, but the Spanish keeper only managed to deflect the ball goalward with his left hand and the ball went in at the near post.

Shelvey, who had just come on for Sahin, was also guilty of not tracking Cazorla's run, but to be fair to the substitute, he did at least try and make up for it at the other end, twice forcing Vito Mannone into good saves before the end.

Arsenal never really looked like conceding though as they kept their third consecutive clean sheet of the season, with new defensive coach Steve Bould clearly having made an impact.

On the other hand, Liverpool could have desperately done with a plan B but will now need to unearth a free agent from somewhere if they want to expand their attacking options with the transfer window shut until January.

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