Long may the media pundits continue rubbishing the Gunners’ title pretensions as with each successive victory I find myself anticipating, ever more eagerly, the enthralling prospect of these so-called experts having to eat their words.
It remains to be seen whether our sumptuous triumph over the Scousers will prove a significant indicator of Arsenal’s end-of-season title credentials.
Yet, no matter what the outcome, there will be few complaints along the way as long as the tortuous Premier League marathon continues to be quite so captivating.
What I do know is that this was a badly needed tonic for the fans and team alike after Tuesday night’s cup capitulation against Chelsea, especially combined with the psychological impact of keeping a clean sheet in the face of Liverpool’s formidable firepower.
A bad result on Saturday would have left us facing a big week, wondering if there is any merit to the suggestions being mooted by many to date. By contrast, we now travel to Germany on Wednesday, and Old Trafford next weekend, brimming with renewed confidence, knowing that at our best, we are a match for anyone.
Dortmund might test such conviction but I fancy we will fare far better against the Bundesliga outfit than we did at our place, when all the pressure is on the home side to perform. And having put a dampener on the Scousers’ in-form dynamic duo, by shutting out Suarez and Sturridge, there is no reason why we can’t do likewise against Rooney and van Persie.
In fact, having seen West Brom and Southampton take advantage of United’s recent insecurity by taking the game to them at Old Trafford, compared to the agony of some of our recent humblings on their turf, we’ll be travelling more in expectation.
As is so often the case when a team is on song, even the fates seemed to be on side on Saturday, as evidenced by referee Atkinson’s failure to allow the quick free-kick that might well have resulted in a first-half equaliser and Sturridge looking Szczesny’s gift-horse in the mouth to pull a goal back late on.
Admittedly we could’ve well done without Kieran Gibbs adding to our seemingly eternal injury woes in what was one of his most impressive displays so far.
Not that Monreal isn’t more than adequate defensive cover, but in the absence of Walcott and Chamberlain, we are already shorn of so much pace that this is the only possible justification for Wenger’s inclusion of the painfully lightweight Miyaichi against Mourinho’s more manful outfit.
Judging by the constant ear-bashing Kolo Toure was getting from Gerrard and Suarez’s demonstrative frustration for more support on Saturday, obviously losing wasn’t helping Liverpool’s happy-camper cause. But I’m uncertain the Scousers can count on team spirit to keep them in the frame.
To my mind it’s Coutinho who really makes Rodgers’ side tick and I was most relieved to see him on the bench and then only brought on out on the flank after the break, where he had less opportunity to influence proceedings.
While Cazorla and Ramsey took the headlines, much kudos should go to Mikel Arteta for putting a leg-weary Gerrard to shame with a genuine captain’s performance.
The Spaniard was so masterful in midfield that he made a mockery of my fears for Flamini’s enforced absence.
Never mind my unbearably smug glee over the relatively meaningless feat of starting another week sitting atop the Premier League pack, far more enthralling is the thought that we’re only a quarter of the way through and are to be blessed with another seven months of such supremely satisfying football!
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved