There are defeats that you deserve. There are defeats that you don’t. There are defeats that you don’t deserve, but you feel like you knew would happen.
Here are 10 key points from our defeat against Swansea:
1.We compromised our chances to gain second place
Manchester City are certainly in the driving seat to take second spot, it’s now theirs to lose. They are three points ahead of us with a superior goal difference, and unless Swansea put on another heroic performance and keep The Citizens at bay too, then we may have to settle for third.
2. We are still in the driving seat for third place, but no more slips are allowed
If we win our remaining two matches at home we will end up third (at worst), regardless of whether we lose 145:0 at Old Trafford – even if I managed to get United v Arsenal tickets, I’d still be nervous about going. If we only take four points from our final two home matches, we might end above United thanks to our superior goal difference – but ideally we should avoid cutting it that close.
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3.We have to be more clinical in front of our opponents’ goal
Our defeat against Swansea was a bit of a copy and paste of the one against United earlier in the season. We were creating chances, the opponent’s goalkeeper was performing miracles, and in the end we were sucker-punched. We have missed too many clear-cut chances this season, and need to be more ruthless.
4.We can’t go on with the same formation
Arsenal have had the same starting eleven in five consecutive games for the first time since 1994 (via the Daily Star). We may have had an unbeaten streak of ten games, but I’ve been suggesting changes even before Swansea. We haven’t scored a goal in the last two home matches against well-organized teams that sit deep, defend, and hit us on the counter-attack. We also had problems dealing with a resilient Burnley side away from home.
5.Should Cazorla be dropped?
With Aaron Ramsey on the wing and Santi Cazorla in the middle, we have too many centrally-oriented players. The Welshman tends to drift inside, leaving both our full-back alone in defence, and our attack without enough width. This leads us to a rather absurd suggestion – whilst Santi Cazorla has been one of our best players this season according to the stats (via Whoscored.com), there is a school of thought that suggests we would be better with Ramsey in the middle and a pacey winger (either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott) down the right flank.
Now, whilst I’m not against dropping Cazorla to the bench, I would do so after our game at Old Trafford. Cazorla was immense in our FA Cup match against Manchester United, and made a huge defensive contribution to our victory (via Whoscored). The only problem is, he performed well when we had more pace in attack with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Alexis Sánchez supporting Danny Welbeck. Now that both English forwards are out due to injury (via Arsenal.com), Arsene Wenger will have a huge task to find the right combination for our next game against Manchester United.
6. Olivier Giroud doesn’t feel comfortable in this formation
Giroud hasn’t scored a goal since the injury-time beauty against Liverpool. At that time we had Welbeck and Alexis on the flanks – we had width, Giroud had space, and opponents couldn’t deal with the Frenchman.
Now, when we gave up on width in order to accommodate both Ramsey and Cazorla in the starting line-up, Giroud can’t score because he doesn’t have enough space to exploit.
7.Hector Bellerin didn’t look comfortable either
The youngster has been a revelation this season, but he needs someone in front of him who can help him out. Alexis’ presence on the left flank has done wonders for Nacho Monreal’s form, and Bellerin needs that sort of partnership on his side of the pitch. Last night he was left to battle Jefferson Montero on his own, and had a lot of problems with the Colombian winger – even in the first half.
8.Garry Monk drove the same type of bus as Jose Mourinho… with the same door left open
Monk put out a side without a natural striker this past Monday, but Swansea were still dangerous whenever they came forward, especially through Montero.
However, there was one door that we could have entered. Our best chance of the game against Chelsea came after a low cross from Nacho Monreal. The Spanish full-back had a great chance to get on the scoresheet against Swansea, but he was denied by bullet-proof ex-Gunner Lukasz Fabianski. Unfortunately, we weren’t persistent enough, and despite knocking on the door we weren’t able to break it down.
Speaking of Monk and Fabianski…
9.Arsene Wenger should have given more credit to Garry Monk and Lukasz Fabianski after the game
Our manager wasn’t in form at the press-conference after the game.
“We were unlucky I think against a team who refused to play completely and just defended,” he said (via Arsenal.com).
“He did well tonight. I believe as well on some occasions we made it too easy for him.”
“Look tonight I cannot say that they played a lot. I don’t know how many passes they made tonight, I haven’t seen the stats. They came here to defend and they didn’t play.”
Personally, I think it was harsh on both Swansea and Garry Monk, even hypocritical at some points. Swansea have conceded nine goals in two games against Chelsea this season, and their visit to Anfield was disastrous. With a lack of attacking talent at his disposal due to injuries (as well as Wilfried Bony’s departure), Monk did what he could with the players at his disposal. He tried taking the sting out of the game, and looked to deny us space to create clear-cut chances.
Which is pretty much what Arsene Wenger did when we won against Manchester City at the Etihad. We sat back, defended well, and waited for our chance to hit back. City had all the possession, we scored all the goals. Why did we take that approach? Because we had conceded six in our previous trip to Etihad.
Fabianski was also brilliant, and with his positioning and command of his area, the Pole deserved more credit.
10.We are going to win at Old Trafford.
Even if Arsenal fans world-wide sound like we have just been relegated and Tottenham have been named champions (somehow) after Monday’s game, it’s still far from being a disaster. Wenger was right when he said that we would win nine out of ten of these games (via Arsenal.com). We lost a game in which we dominated – just like that game we lost against Monaco, despite our possession and the countless chances we should have scored from. That didn’t stop us from winning against United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.
If our players put their heads together like they did after the Monaco loss, I’m sure we’ll do the first Old Trafford double over United. I still stand by my statement that we are much better team than United, but like last night reminded us for the umpteenth time, it must be proven on the pitch. And we will do that!