Abou Diaby man of match as Arsenal easily beat Liverpool 2-0
New signings Podolski and Cazorla both score, but they're overshadowed by Diaby's return from injury
Arsenal claimed their first win of the season on Sunday, beating Liverpool 2-0 with the goals coming from new signings Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. It was a classy performance from the pair although both were overshadowed by man of the match Abou Diaby.
The French midfielder missed most of last season with injury but at Anfield he was the dominant player in a display that brought back memories of the great Patrick Vieira.
"We are really happy to win after drawing our first two games," Diaby said later. "It means a lot to me because I really want to play football, this year I am back and I hope to stay like this until the end of the season. The whole team have had a strong game and we need to keep going."
Diaby praised the performances of Podolski and Cazorla, predicting: "We were waiting for those kinds of players to be in the team and today they showed great quality. We are really happy to have them in the team… we are going to achieve something really good with them."
Podolski opened the scoring on 31 minutes when he ran on to Cazorla's delightful pass and coolly slid the ball past Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal. Olivier Giroud should have added a second a few minutes later but the striker – the only one of Arsenal's summer signings yet to find his feet at the club – blasted wide from six yards.
Liverpool struggled to threaten the Arsenal goal in what was another authoritative display from the Gunners' back-four and the contest was effectively ended when Cazorla scored on 68 minutes. There was some neat build-up play between the Spaniard and Podolski but Reina shouldn't have allowed Cazorla's angled shot to pass under his body.
Arsenal now lie in eighth spot, unbeaten in their first three matches and the only side in the Premier League not to have conceded a goal. Considering the Gunners leaked 49 last season (20 more than champions Manchester City), the influence of new assistant coach Steve Bould is there for all to see.
"I am pleased with the quality of our performance, offensively and defensively," said Wenger. "In our first two games you could feel some potential but we lacked a little spark and that is getting better now."
Asked about the contribution of his new signings, Wenger replied: "Everybody understood very quickly that Cazorla would not take six months to settle and Podolski is deadly when there is a chance, you see that in training. He showed good team work as well today, and I am pleased for them."
As for Liverpool, the Reds are still without a win and are now in the throes of their worst start to a league campaign since 1962-63. "I am disappointed with the scoreline and the goals we conceded," reflected Brendan Rodgers. "I can't fault the players, they have given everything but we have things to work on, needing to keep the ball better and Arsenal did that well in the final period."
Meanwhile the man Podolski was brought in to replace at the Emirates scored a hat-trick as Manchester United came from behind to beat Southampton 3-2 at St Mary's. Robin Van Persie struck twice in the last five minutes to break the hearts of Saints supporters as United moved up into fifth spot.
Overall it was another stuttering performance from Alex Ferguson's men but United are discovering what Arsenal found out last year – that Van Persie has the skills to win matches on his own.
"His first goal was magnificent - the control and then to bury it. It was a really good goal," said Ferguson. "His header was excellent too... he has been a terrific player for us."
Van Persie could even afford to miss a penalty as he passed 100 Premier League goals in his career. "I have to say a big thank you to Paul Scholes," the Dutchman said later. "Every single pass he hit was the right one. It was unbelievable. He is man of the match for me."
In the day's other Premier League game, Hatem Ben Arfa's spectacular strike earned Newcastle a draw against Aston Villa. Paul Clark gave the visitors the lead on 22 minutes but midway through the second half Ben Arfa unleashed a cracking drive from the edge of the area to give the Magpies a share of the spoils.