Are Arsenal back? It’s an impossible question to answer but the very fact that’s even a conversation right now is a testament to how far they have come.
The Gunners began last season with three straight defeats as they sunk to the bottom of the Premier League table. They ended the campaign in a similarly dismal fashion, failing to qualify for the Champions League.
The resurgence this term, therefore, is rather remarkable. They may not be dining at the top table of continental football but they look every bit an elite team again. They have lost just once in their first nine top-flight games this season as they sit at the summit of the table, ahead of Mikel Arteta’s former employers, Manchester City.
Last weekend’s victory over Spurs was a landmark one, a win that told us a lot about the direction this side were heading in. However, it was Sunday’s triumph over Liverpool that was their boldest statement yet.
Most ground duels (7)
Most aerial duels (4)
Most recoveries (7)
Most tackles (2)
Takehiro Tomiyasu. pic.twitter.com/mlp1KHKFAs
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 9, 2022
Jurgen Klopp’s side may not be the beast they have been in recent seasons but for onlookers to take Arsenal seriously this term, they had to beat some of the best in the division and they have now done that in successive league matches.
Arteta has had a vibrant and swashbuckling attack to thank for that, with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli netting in their 3-2 win over the Anfield outfit today.
The latter was a rampant force at the Emirates, putting Trent Alexander-Arnold and indeed his defensive colleagues to the sword, with the north-London side proving dangerous with every attack.
Yet, those at the back also deserve a huge amount of praise, with Takehiro Tomiyasu particularly impressive.
Lacking match fitness in the early weeks of the campaign and cast aside to the bench amid Ben White’s emergence at right-back, he hadn’t started a Premier League match until today.
Capable of playing at right-back, centre-back or as we found out today, left-back, Tomiyasu is the definition of solidity and reliability.
The Japanese defender was playing out of position this afternoon and had the unenviable task of marking Mohamed Salah. So good was Tomiyasu, however, that the Egyptian menace was brought off by Klopp on 69 minutes.
That was full credit to Arsenal’s number 18 who had pocketed him expertly on the left-hand side of Arsenal’s defence.
He set the tone early in the first half when Salah tried to dance past the 23-year-old on the edge of the area, only for him to stop him in his tracks, before nonchalantly walking away with possession.
During the course of the game, Salah’s influence was missing with Tomiyasu winning an impressive seven defensive duels while having 66 touches.
The full-back, charged with playing on the left in the absence of Oleksandr Zinchenko, was rock solid as he made a whopping six clearances and three successful tackles.
Technically proficient, he was preferred to Tierney for that very reason, with the Japanese star equally as good on his left foot as he is on his right with the former Bologna star expertly carrying out Arteta’s game plan.
It was his ambidexterity for which he was compared to one of the best on both feet in the modern game with football data scientist Tom Worville dubbing him “Cancelo-esque” for his ability to pass the ball.
This was a landmark victory for Arsenal and it was one that typified their new-found squad depth, as well as their gritty nature. Just how long the Gunners will be able to sustain this run is up for debate, but for now, much to the distaste of a certain Richard Keys, they must celebrate just how far they’ve come in the last 12 months.Click here to give us five stars rating!