It was a tentative win, but a win all the same as the the gunners finally grabbed three points at the Emirates against a spirited Swansea side. It took a gift to Arshavin by Swansea keeper Michael Vorm in the form of a brain-explosion to seperate the two teams and although it was not a convincing performance from Arsenal, the points were all that mattered today.
Arsenal began the tie in a lively fashion, with a clear chance for Ramsey in the within the first minute of the game. Arteta intercepted a ball and stormed through centre-field playing through to Ramsey just inside the 18-yard box, only for the Welshman to blast it over with Van Persie waiting unmarked in the middle.
Their second clear-cut chance came in the 13th minute where Arshavin brilliantly put Walcott through on a one-on-one with the keeper. Vorm rushed out from goal and managed to partially save the ball which travelled painfully slow towards the gaping net, allowing Swansea centre back Steven Caulkner to divert the ball away just in time.
It was after this that the gunners started to lose their tight hold on the match. Swansea began to assert themselves in the tie and playing some wonderful football for a newly promoted side they began to create some chances and grow in confidence, until of course the 40th minute where Vorm had a brain explosion. After good work from Theo Walcott, his looping off-target shot was gathered in by Vorm who looked to quickly distibute on the far left side of the pitch only to hit the heels of his own defender directly in front him. The ball dropped to Arshavin who cooly slotted the ball from an acute angle. Not one for Vorm’s demo reel.
After the break, Arsenal lost all composure and dominance and faded from the match. It was extremely stressful seeing the lads try to defend a one goal lead and they seemed almost nervous to finally get a victory. It was not acceptable seeing midfield constantly giving the ball away cheaply as well as seeing a definite lack of urgency as Arsenal started to play at a relaxed and standstill pace, inviting Swansea to try pick us apart time and time again. But credit to the team for scrambling and keeping Swansea out when needed getting us the all important three points.
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The performance was not as convincing as many though it would be, but Arsenal did secure what was greatly needed which was a win. The team is still a work in progress with time still needed for the new players to gel and suspended and injured players to return to the line-up including the likes of Wilshere, Song and Vermaelen. After securing the win, I look forward to Arsenal to regaining some confidence and putting in improved performances in the weeks to come.
on a first win of the Premier League season…
“It was vital for us to win the game. I think we started quite well but slowly the nerves took over. We played with the handbrake on and were restrictive in the second half. It is not often that we pass the ball back to our goalkeeper when we are at halfway. You could see in the second half that we just wanted to get over the line and we didn’t make a mistake. Swansea make it difficult for you because they keep the ball well and on the wings they are very quick. Overall they have the basics of a very good Premier League team but they just can’t score at the moment.”
on Arsenal’s debutants…
“Mertesacker was calm and composed – he just needs to adapt to the pace of the game. He looks very intelligent in his positioning. Arteta played very well, especially in the first half. In the second half it was more difficult for him but you can see he will give us some technical security that this team needs and he wants to play like we play.”
on the feeling in the dressing room…
“We know that confidence goes quickly and comes back slowly. For us to be in the situation we were in, we were not used to that. We will come back. You look today with the fact we had no Gervinho, no Song, Diaby or Wilshere. We now have a decent squad overall when everybody is back and we have chance. First we just need to put a few wins together.”
on whether nerves were a problem…
“When you don’t win you have a deep problem, that’s for sure. The longer it lasts, the deeper the problem becomes. As soon as you win things are different.”
on an element of luck about the goal…
“There was an element of luck about our goal, of course.”
Sagna Koscielny Mertesacker Gibbs
Walcott Van Persie (c) Arshavin
Wojciech Szczesny | 7.5: Made an incredible save early to deny Graham and was always alert to danger, responding accordingly on most occasions especially in the air where he was dominant, although could not deal with the high ball in the final minutes which could have cost victory when the ball dropped to Graham off a corner.
Bacary Sagna | 6.5: The Frenchman was put through his paces by Scott Sinclair but recovered when needed most late in the game making a crucial tackle to avert very dangerous situation. Was also his usual self providing a attacking option on the flank.
Laurent Koscielny | 7.0: Laurent was solid this week, doing what was needed of him at the centre of defence. He seems to be improving, being more aware of when to use his aggression and when to be desperate in defence.
Per Mertesacker | 6.5: Like Koscielny, he did what was needed of him when it was needed. Made a number of good blocks and tackles although seemed a little stunned by the pace of the game at times, but you have to remember it is his first game in the Premier League.
Kieran Gibbs | 6.0: His defensive positioning was suspect on a number of occasions, needing to use his pace to get him out of trouble. In hindsight though his value on offence is is great and the young defender put in a number of dangerous crosses, particularly the one late in the game to Chamakh.
Emmanuel Frimpong | 4.5: His first touch was sometimes sorely lacking, he gave the ball away cheaply on multiple occasions and ultimately ran out of steam. One to forget for the youngster as he was replaced in the 73rd minute by Coquelin.
Mikel Arteta | 7.0: The experienced signing from Everton created a lot of chances on attack, particularly for Ramsey in the opening minute. Was strong in the first half with his wide range of passing ability although faded in the second.
Aaron Ramsey | 6.5: It was a good performance by the Welsh captain, getting involved as early as the first minute only to shoot wide. Bounced back well and had great distribution throughout the match although still lacks that final ball.
Andrey Arshavin | 8.0: The Andrey of old was back tonight putting in a great performance for the gunners and showing complete commitment. Set-up brilliantly for Theo for his one-on-one with Vorm and coolly slotted the ball in the net after Vorm’s brain explosion. Tracked back on occasions and was determined on attack. Subbed in the 62nd minute and received deserved applause.
Theo Walcott | 5.0: Had an inconsistent hot and cold performance. Did well to get in the position for his one-on-one although complained too much for my liking and still seems indecisive with his final ball.
Robin van Persie | 6.5: Has had little chance up front in recent weeks being isolated up front. Always threatens in good attacking positions though as shown with his individual effort in the 55th minute where his right foot shot clipped the right-hand post.
- Notable Substitutions
Marouane Chamakh | 6.0: Coquelin had little impact on the match, while Benayoun tried to make an impression on the match but failed to do so. Chamakh did very well to get a header on goal from a fabulous Gibb’s cross, rising above his defender and showing his aerial threat.
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