We rescued what threatened to be a poor game with a fantastic second half performance against Swansea this past Saturday afternoon, with Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny scoring before Joel Campbell rounded things off with his first Arsenal goal.
Fans were obviously hoping for a far better performance than we saw against Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, and with Arsene Wenger putting out his strongest team it looked as though we were going to get it.
The lack of desire was still there though, and we endured a thoroughly shocking first half. Our passing was sloppy, the concentration of the players was questionable, and we were just generally poor all across the field.
We had a few half chances over the course of the first 45 minutes, with Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud, and Joel Campbell all coming close. We were totally outplayed by a fairly average Swansea side though, and they really should have been ahead on a number of occasions.
A mixup between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker allowed Bafetimbi Gomis to burst through on goal. He looked like a player low on confidence though, and hesitated far too long as he looked to take the ball around Petr Cech – who stood up well – and an Arsenal man was able to get back and put the tackle in to clear.
There were real concerns when Giroud took what initially looked to be a fairly innocuous blow right before half time, as he looked to be in real pain as he writhed around on the floor. Thankfully he recovered, and when he came out for the second half he looked better than ever.
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We applied immediate pressure in the second half, forcing Swansea to concede two consecutive corners. We took the lead from the second, with Mesut Özil firing in and finding Giroud. The Frenchman made a clever run to fool and lose Ashley Williams, providing himself space for a free header which he put past Lukasz Fabianski. 1-0.
Swansea looked to respond by creating a few opportunities down the other end, but Petr Cech was up to the challenge and from then on we really began to dominate.
We soon doubled our lead, with a goal that really put us in control. In the aftermath of a free-kick, Fabianski made a real hash of long ball into his area. The Pole dropped a difficult catch at the feet of Laurent Koscielny, who spun and tapped it into an open net. Garry Monk felt his man was fouled, but the referee disagreed. 2-0.
And soon after we made it three, with what was a pretty momentous goal. Joel Campbell had been handed his first Premier League start in the absence of Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and he was looking to impress Wenger. He had enjoyed a fairly solid game, but not spectacular. He grabbed his first Arsenal goal late on though, calmly dispatching an Özil cross into the back of the net. 3-0.
The game was over at that point, and we merely had to keep the ball. We were playing on the counter a lot, and perhaps should have punished Swansea more, but were happy with our 3-0 lead – with Wenger making a few defensive substitutions.
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The only downside was Alexis Sanchez, who looked extremely tired an uninvolved. He was getting frustrated with himself and his teammates, and could perhaps do with a longer break – which he’s unlikely to get with Bayern Munich coming up.
Unfortunately Manchester City scored an 89th minute penalty to get the win over Norwich, meaning we are still second in the league by goal difference. It’s excellent that we are keeping the pressure up though, and whatever Wenger said at half-time, it worked.