Search

Diaby the destroyer leads Arsenal past Liverpool to first win

15:39 02 September 2012

Abou Diaby was imperious as Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

Abou Diaby was imperious as Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield. Photo credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

EMPICS Sport

Premier League: Liverpool 0 Arsenal 2

Arsenal's two goalscorers celebrate Lukas Podolski's (right) opener against Liverpool. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA wireArsenal's two goalscorers celebrate Lukas Podolski's (right) opener against Liverpool. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA wire

Alex Song who? Step forward Abou Diaby.

It may have been Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla that opened theirs and Arsenal’s goalscoring accounts but it was the midfielder’s commanding performance that shone through to quickly cast aside fears of a gaping hole left by Barcelona’s newest recruit.

The Frenchman delivered the sort of dominant showing that used to be the preserve of Gunners great Patrick Vieira, spurring his side on with a pacey and powerful performance that opened up Liverpool at will in the first half.

And in the second, when the Merseyside men tried to address the balance he was a rock in defence, repelling impotent red waves.

And fans may dare not even whisper it, but with a third clean sheet in row there is the beginnings of a stubbornness that an Arsenal side of a not too distant vintage used to enjoy.

There may have been some element of luck to the shutout – as referee Howard Webb remained unmoved on three occasions when Liverpool arms were raised in search of a penalty – but the guidance of former hero Steve Bould as new defensive coach appears to be paying off.

With goals the only thing missing from Arsenal’s two previous outings manager Arsene Wenger saw fit to only make one alteration from the side that draw 0-0 with Stoke City last weekend with England youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replacing Gervinho.

The home line-up saw one-time Wenger target Nuri Sahin handed his debut after moving to Anfield on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. It would be a bow to forget as he was replaced just after the hour mark.

But it all started quite promisingly for his new team when the Emirates outfit allowed Fabio Borini the space to burst from the halfway line and fizz a drive just wide from 20-yards.

The Italian was at it again following some tricky build-up play from Joe Allen, Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez, who moments earlier drew a cynical foul from Per Mertesacker to see the German’s name become the first into Mr Webb’s notebook. It was a weakness that for the remaining 84 minutes Diaby and co refuses to leave exposed despite his side being noticeably second best in the early exchanges.

A nervous beginning saw Carl Jenkinson play in Borini though luckily for the Englishman his defensive pals were present to see out the danger.

But Arsenal began to get a foothold on proceedings and glimmers of promise lay in Liverpool’s play as the Brendan Rogers-era of playing out from the back saw the hosts overdoing it and times, with Suarez a frequent offender and Diaby a glad recipient.

Within a period of ten minutes the Frenchman and midfield partner Cazorla had wrested control from the Reds.

It was a lightning quick counter that saw the Gunners assume the rule of the scoreboard as Cazorla fed in Podolski and the German international fired low past Pepe Reina to finally break his side’s Premier League duck.

The woodwork ensured that their lead remained intact. Arsenal failed to clear their lines from an innocuous high ball into the box and when the ball bounced to Sterling he gave Jenkinson the slip and crashed a shot against the post.

After then surviving a penalty shout the visitors’ other new striker, Olivier Giroud, should have doubled the lead. Again it came from a counter attack, with Diaby the driving force, and as Liverpool stood off the tall midfielder as he slipped a pass to his countryman only for the forward to fluffed his lines.

His side started where they left off in the second half but were fortunate to survive two further penalty claims. First Mertesacker got more than a handful of Suarez to send the Uruguayan tumbling to the ground as a Steven Gerrard cross whizzed through the six-yard area. Then Thomas Vermaelen handled the ball as he hit the deck but Mr Webb was unimpressed with both incidents.

Sandwiched between them, Reina clawed away a Kieran Gibbs shot but the momentum had swung Liverpool’s way.

Soon it was Vito Mannone – up until that point a virtual spectator – having to get a firm fist to the ball to tip over a Suarez shot.

Fortunately for the Gunners the hosts’ well-documented lack of striking options rarely saw them facing their own goal, so a speculative, if well-hit, long-ranger from Daniel Agger was one of their few concerns.

When substitute Stewart Downing did jink his way into the penalty area a wall of hooped shirts blocked his shot.

They looked comfortable at 1-0 and hadn’t threatened a second goal until Cazorla had two efforts in a matter of minutes, the second of which came via a simple one-two with Podolski and a helping hand from Reina, whose error-strew start to the season continued. He clawed his fellow Spaniard’s shot into his own net when he really should have beaten it to safety.

That’s exactly what Mannone did late on to twice thwart substitute Jonjo Shelvey’s stinging shots, which, either side of an off-target Suarez dink were Liverpool’s only concessions to a fightback in the final ten minutes.

Then again, on this masterful evidence, with Diaby in the side it won’t be the last time Arsenal ease to three points.

Liverpool: Pepe Reina, Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique, Martin Skrtel, Nuri Sahin (Jonjo Shelvey, 66), Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen, Fabio Borini (Stewart Downing 54), Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez

Unused subs: Brad Jones, Jordan Henderson, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Sebastian Coates,

Arsenal: Vito Mannone, Abou Diaby, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen (Laurent Koscielny, 90), Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski (Andre Santos, 81), Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Aaron Ramsey, 73), Kieran Gibbs

Unused subs: Theo Walcott, Gervinho, Francis Coquelin, Damian Martinez

Referee: Howard Webb

Attendance: 44,932

Related articles

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate Sports News

Yesterday, 11:38
Gary McCann has played for and managed Hendon in memorable FA Cup ties. Pic: Andrew Aleksiejczuk

In the latest of a series of features casting the spotlight on local football fans, David Ballheimer reveals his favourite players and his most memorable matches during his time following Hendon.

Yesterday, 07:30
Middlesex bowler Tim Murtagh

With just a month of the season remaining, Middlesex appear better-placed to become county champions than at any time since their last title 23 years ago.

Thu, 22:30
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) could soon be lining up alongside Tottenham's Victor Wanyama (left) after Spurs made a move to sign the 23-year-old today

Mauricio Pochettino admits he would like to sign a pacy attacking midfielder before the end of the transfer window as Tottenham seek to bring Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha to White Hart Lane.

Thu, 14:02
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino admits he is frustrated that a host of his players will be departing for international duty again after this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Thu, 10:15
Laura Hirai in action for the Great Britain Under-19 team at the ESF Junior Womens European Softball Championship in Barcelona

Like most 16-year-olds, Laura Hirai’s primary concern today (Thursday) is her GCSE results. But four days after the end of the Rio 2016 Olympics, when the baton was passed to Tokyo and a new four-cycle began, the teenager is also dreaming about being involved in the 2020 Games.

Thu, 09:40
Wingate & Finchley goalkeeper Shane Gore. Pic: Martin Addison

Filling the well-worn boots of Bobby Smith doesn’t faze Shane Gore – it’s actually a case of déjà vu for Wingate & Finchley’s new No1.

Thu, 09:11
Hendon midfielder Sam Murphy

Hendon duo Scott Cousins and Sam Murphy are aiming to guide England to their best ever performance at the European Six-a-side Championships later this week.

Thu, 08:00
Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld (left) battles with Crystal Palace's Connor Wickham during Saturday's Premier League clash at White Hart Lane. Pic: PA

Toby Alderweireld says Tottenham’s players are looking forward to testing themselves against some of the best clubs in Europe and playing at Wembley Stadium ahead of today’s (Thursday’s) Champions League draw.

PROMOTED CONTENT

The showroom is located in Hayes

After 25 years as a trade-only business, family-run door manufacturers Composite Door Master are set to open their first public showroom in Hayes this weekend.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate sport

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

You could win £15,000 to spend on either their mortgage or a deposit towards the home of their dreams

Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a period of time when you simply don’t have to worry about finding the money each month to pay your mortgage? When you don’t have to put money aside from your monthly income, or worry about having to afford other essential outgoings?

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate that one lucky winner will receive four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All runners up will get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now