After certain promising parts in the previous couple of matches, the Gunners served their faithful fans with another horrible performance. There are no excuses for the deserved defeat against Swansea at home, not even if Michael Laudrup, arguably one of the best European players of all time, had played for the Swans today. No, we played against a team that signed their best player for 2 million pounds, so the usual whining and making excuses about how we would kick everyone’s asses if only there weren’t for those billionaire-sugardaddies that made Shitty and the Chavs espresso-champions shouldn’t take place. We played against a team that was playing without their first-choice goalkeeper (Vorm’s deputy Tremmel was excellent) and one of their best midfielders (Pablo Hernandez).
There is no such thing as nice defeat. I don’t buy into that crap and I never have. However, there are defeats that can help people give up on their illusions. Our last defeat before this match was the one against FAnchester United. We could have easily lost against Fulham, nobody can say for sure that we would come back against the Spuds if Adebawhore wasn’t sent off in the early stages of the match, while Aston Villa and Everton were just a couple of referee decisions and Sczszesny saves away and from defeat. Despite being unconvincing during the bigger part of the season, this was the first defeat with a two-goal-margin in the Premiership.
It was visible from the very start it wouldn’t go well for us. The visitors were dominating us, their midfield controlled the ball superbly and they had no problem finding space behind our defensive line. If Wojciech Sczszesny wasn’t our best performer today, Angel Rangel would have put his name on the score-sheet in the early stages of the match. He picked up the ball behind our left-back and managed to pull two shots, but both times Sczszesny was excellent. On the other side of the pitch, Podolski and Gervinho weren’t able to find enough space for a proper shot, as well as Cazorla. Walcott wasn’t at his best, probably due to injury he picked against Everton.
Vermaelen’s last ditch tackle saved us from going behind after Michu’s flick gave chance to Nathan Dyer to make a run on Sczszesny. Our defenders were nowhere to be seen as Dyer ran from the center of the pitch. Dyer’s run was similar to the one Baines could have had on Wednesday if Jelavić didn’t stop him while being offside. Arteta gave away an easy foul just outside the area, but Ashley Williams put it over the bar. The worst impression of the first half wasn’t the fact we couldn’t make clear chance to score, but the fact the Swans had the whole center of the pitch to themselves. Sometimes it felt there were only white shirts to be seen.
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The Opening minutes of the second half gave some hope to us. We started to press our opponent causing problems for them when they were in possession. Cazorla fashioned a couple of decent chances to shoot, but each time he took a shot, his left foot sent the ball directly into the safe hands of Tremmel. Rangel managed to create problems for our defense again by doing something Jamie Mackie did when QPR nearly snatched a point – he went through three Arsenal players before taking a shot. Sczszesny emulated Mannone’s save from QPR match as well. We had a couple of situations in which we asked for a foul in the opponents’ area or just outside, but the first time Cazorla fell without being touched while Giroud was fouled by Chico, but only after the Swansea defender touched the ball.
In the last ten minutes we expected Arsenal to exert some final pressure on Swansea, but instead two substitutions turned the run of the play in Swansea’s favour again. First, Laudrup introduced Tiendalli who had another wonderful chance for the Visitors after one-two with Williams. Luckily for Arsenal Sczcesny was equal to the challenge and saved again. A few minutes later Wenger substituted the energetic Wilshere for the likes of Rosicky. The Czech hasn’t played in six months and it was visible that he lacks match fitness. Still, we had a chance to win the match but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross, additionally flicked by one Swansea defender, found Vermaelen in the box, but our captain couldn’t put it passed Tremmel. In the 87th minute, the Swans finally took a lead. They realized one-twos can penetrate our defense and Michu’s one-two with Luke Moore ended with Michu being one-on-one with Sczszesny. The Spaniard prodcued a well-placed shot with his left to end our hopes of a victory.
Then, during injury time, we conceded a goal that exemplifies everything that is wrong with today’s Arsenal. Jenkinson had a ball on the right wing but he couldn’t find anyone and started going back in order to find some space for making a pass. Nathan Dyer was pressing him constantly and his pressure paid off. Dyer took the ball from Jenkinson and passed it to Michu who had another one-on-one with Sczszesny. The only Arsenal player that was coming back to prevent Spaniard from scoring second goal was Rosicky, but the lack of defensive instincts prevented him from making a challenge. Instead of putting sliding tackle, Rosicky watched Michu putting the ball behind Sczszesny for the second time in three minutes.
on explaining the defeat…
We were not creative, nor sharp. Swansea were more creative and more sharp. They had a lot of possession, but without going anywhere. We tried to change things and took a lot of risks. In the end it turned against us. Maybe we should have made a 0-0 and in the end we were not cautious enough to play the 0-0. The quality of our game was not there. It was a bit frustrating because we lacked a bit of decisiveness and creativity.
on whether Swansea deserved to win…
Yes. It is very frustrating, but it is the truth.
on whether they surprised him…
No, I knew they could play well. I knew the question before the game could be that we could be a bit jaded because we had many players on the edge who had played a lot of hard games recently. We had just come back from two very difficult away games physically and it was a bit like that today. We are guilty of losing a game at the moment when we should not have lost it.
on the booing at the end…
My response is I can understand that.
Jenkinson Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
Wojciech Sczszesny | 8.0: Only player worth of playing in Champions’ League from today’s bunch.
Carl Jenkinson | 4.5: He made fantastic improvement this season but there is a huge 5-stars-hotel-wedding-room for improvement when it comes to attacking duties. He can’t make a decent cross. To make things worse, his mistake led to second Michu’s goal.
Per Mertesacker | 4.5: Didn’t organize defense well. There was too much space behind our defenders. Was beaten by Michu in air before Dyer made dangerous run on Sczszesny.
Thomas Vermaelen | 5.5: Was too soft in a couple of occasions. Missed our best chance for goal and picked up a yellow card that probably prevented him for going harder in challenge when Moore and Michu were doing one-twos before the first goal. Saved us from conceding when Dyer had a one-on-one in the first half.
Kieran Gibbs | 5.0: He wasn’t that bad in attack, but in defense there was a lot of space on the side he was covering. Rangel and Tiendalli almost scored from our left side.
Mikel Arteta | 5.0: Arteta is not a defensive midfielder. He gave away a soft foul in dangerous area in the first half, but Williams put it over the bar. It seems he is still suffering because of what happened against Fulham.
Santi Cazorla| 6.0: He tried, tried and tried but the bloody ball couldn’t go past Tremmel.
Jack Wilshere | 6.5: Much better in the second half than he was in the first. He managed to create a chance for Cazorla by breaking through the Swansea defense. One of the rare players that deserves to wear red and white shirt with the Arsenal emblem.
Theo Walcott | 5.0: Didn’t do much, perhaps due to injury he suffered against Everton.
Lukas Podolski | 4.5: He could be going through another floppy campaign in one of the greatest European clubs. He was invisible today as it seems that chemistry between him and Gervinho seen in the opening stages of the season don’t exist anymore.
Gervinho| 4.5: He tried to do something but he couldn’t make anything with the ball. If you want to feel bad, just take a look how much money we spent on Gervinho and Podolski and compare it to Michu’s price.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain | 5.0: He lost his sharpness somewhere between two shots for OxTV. He should start thinking about football first. Had one decent cross, though.
Olivier Giroud | 5.0: Brought something into our game but failed to create decent chance for either himself or his team-mates.
Tomas Rosicky | N/A : It’s good he is back but he lacks match-fitness and it wasn’t realistic to expect him to change things in our favour today.
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