Before the game Jamie Rednapp told us Mikael Arteta would be the weak link in the Arsenal team as he couldn't do the defensive work of the injured Mathieu Flamini. On Match of the Day afterwards both Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy told us Arsenal couldn't win the title as they hadn't played any of the other contenders yet. Apparently the victories over Liverpool and Spurs counted for nothing but I suppose neither of those teams are actually real contenders.
Never mind that Chelsea were abject in their 2-0 defeat at Newcastle yesterday or that they have only won once in five away games so far. City were magnificent in their 7-0 victory at home to Norwich yesterday but they have performed even worse than Chelsea away from home with three defeats already. United managed to win two league games in a row for the first time this season, but were far from potential champions in the second half after racing into an early three goal lead.
Arsenal are the form team in the league and are consistently playing the best football despite their continuing injury problems. After losing their first game against Villa they have consistently risen to every challenge which has confronted them and shown that they have the attacking flair to beat any team. Liverpool may have created a few good chances yesterday but even Brendan Rogers admitted afterwards that the better team had won.
The Arsenal team was as expected as the only really tough decision for Arsene Wenger was taken out of his hands when Jack Wilshere was declared injured. The lack of attacking options on the bench was a little worrying but the attacking options on the pitch were more than a match for Liverpool. Any team which can boast a midfield containing Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky is going to be a handful for any opponent.
The goals came from Cazorla after 19 minutes and Ramsey after 59 minutes and there were other chances to add to the lead. Liverpool looked impressive early in both halves but once they lost their head of steam it became a "football" match and Arsenal are the better football team. Their speed of passing and ability to make things happen was too much for a Liverpool defence which hasn't kept a clean sheet in seven league games now.
Wojciech Szczesny had a fantastic game yet again in goal and his anticipation prevented Liverpool from opening up the Arsenal defence on quite a few occasions. He was a candidate for man of the match until his casualness almost handed a goal to Daniel Sturridge late on. It was a reminder that he is still far from the finished article, but then again what goalkeeper is at his age.
In midfield Arteta was simply magnificent and was by far the best player on the pitch with Ramsey putting in a great shift too. Cazorla continues his journey towards full match fitness after his injury lay off but his goal showed what a class act he is. Rosicky was like the Duracell bunny yet again and his desire to run at the opposition with the ball is a joy to watch at times. Olivier Giroud put in another great shift up front and probably should have had a couple of goals but his finishing let him down.
The defence held firm in the main although Liverpool did hit the post late on through Luis Suarez and found it a little too easy to get behind Arsenal on occasions. I thought Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna were the outstanding performers in the defence but Per Mertesacker and Kieran Gibbs did very well too. Sagna did what others have failed to do in the past and took a yellow card for the team when he dragged Suarez down to stop him when he was in a very dangerous position.
The biggest worry for me was the changes Arsenal had to make and the players who came on. They brought three defenders on for a defender and the two wide players and it handed the initiative to Liverpool towards the end of the game, but they had no real choice. The sooner the better Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Serge Gnabry return from injury to give Arsenal the extra options which are missing at the moment.
I don't think Liverpool will be in the mix at the end of the season but they were in fine form going into yesterday's game and had scored 12 goals in their previous four games. There will be tougher challenges for Arsenal and next week's trip to United will probably be one of them. It will be a tough task for an Arsenal team who have to travel to Dortmund in midweek but they have the ability and desire to rise to it.
That result of that trip to Dortmund could well determine Arsenal's Champions League fate and a defeat would leave them probably needing to win at Napoli in their next game. Hopefully they can take something from Dortmund and then go to United next week looking to maintain their gap at the top of the table. It's been a long time since Arsenal were five points clear at the top of the table and it's a great feeling for us fans.
It was great to hear the fans singing "We are top of the league" yesterday and hopefully they will get to sing it an awful lot more this season. The trophies aren't handed out until May but on current form Arsenal look like they have a genuine chance of being right up there when that happens. They have passed their first big test of this week with flying colours and hopefully they can come through the next two in similar style.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.