The Age of Sweeping Statements

Arsenal 1-0 Swansea City

Szczesny, Sagna – Mertesacker – Koscielny – Gibbs, Frimpong – Arteta – Ramsey, Walcott – Arshavin – Van Persie.

Yesterday’s football exploits started off as home games often do for me…….. in the Blackstock pub. I was meeting an old friend of mine who is from Swansea, and a Swans fan. He was entering the match with concern that his team were going to be on the end of a backlash from the gunners after what happened at Old Trafford two weeks ago. I thought he could be right, and the feeling I got from many gooners was that a lot of us felt the same.

It was good (but not a surprise) to see both Arteta and Mertesacker making their debuts. Obviously our injury situation didn’t give us much choice. Both slotted in fairly seamlessly. Mertesacker was obviously trying to be very safe and deliberate, which is what I would expect from a brand new centre half. Arteta slotted seamlessly into the side with our passing game suiting the Spaniard’s style of play. With Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Ju Young Park on the bench, all five last minute summer signings had the chance of making their debut.

You really got the feeling that the Arsenal fans wanting to get behind their team, which as we all know isn’t always the case at the Emirates. Maybe they were spurred on by the efforts of the away support up at Old Trafford in our last outing, or it could have just been the excitement of our new signings. Either way, you hoped the expectation would be met.

In the first minute Arsenal had a great opportunity to take the lead when Arteta and Ramsey linked up well, but the Welshman failed to finish. It seemed to me that he tried to change his stride just as he got to the ball. The result was high, wide and not so handsome.

Both teams were getting the ball down well and producing some really good passing football. It was Swansea who made the next breakthrough though. A ball was played in from the right, Danny Graham got in front of Per Mertesacker and got a toe on the ball. Szczesney had to change direction and get very low to save it, but save it is what he did. Fantastic goalkeeping!

After quarter of an hour a lovely through ball from Andre Arshavin to Theo Walcott gave the Englishman a great chance to put Arsenal in front. He slid the ball past the Vorm (the Swansea goalkeeper), but it was cleared off the line by Ashley Williams.

There was again a lot more patient build up from both teams, without ever really causing the goalkeepers much trouble. Then, just before half time, Theo had a shot deflected that looked to be travelling out for a corner. The Swansea goalkeeper sprinted and managed to catch the ball and keep it in play. Danger over…….. or so we thought. Vorm attempted to role the ball out of defence, but it hit the back of Angel Rangel’s heels. The ball rolled straight to Andre Arshavin, who from a tight angle and with his wrong foot, hit the ball first time into the empty net. One nil to the Arsenal.

Swansea started the second half the better, and not long into the half the Swans caused the Arsenal backline problems. Scott Sinclair used his pace to ghost roust Koscielny, who brought him down. I’m sure a lot of Arsenal fans had their hearts in their mouths, as they thought that for a fourth league game in a row the Arsenal would be down to ten men. In truth though, there was plenty of cover, and a yellow card was the correct decision by the referee. The resulting free kick clipped the top of the cross bar and Arsenal had escaped punishment.

A few minutes later a jinking Van Persie move on the edge of the box resulted in a right-footed (his chocolate leg) shot that clipped the outside of the post. This sparked Arsenal into taking charge of the game for a period. The consistently got themselves into good positions, without ever really troubling the Swansea goalkeeper.

We saw the introduction of Yossi Benayoun who (like Arteta) slotted seamlessly into our way of play. It was another replacement who nearly put us in an unassailable lead. With barely five minutes to go, and Chamakh having entered the fray as a replacement for Van Persie, Arsenal did trouble the goalkeeper. Gibbs was unleashed down the left, and with a great first time cross that was met by the big Morrocan. His header, however, was saved by Worn.

There was time for one final chance for the visitors. A corner (yes they still trouble us) was flown in to the danger area. No defender got a head to the ball, and Szczesny ended up in a tangle with two Swansea players. The ball landed at Danny Graham’s feet, bit his turn and shot blazed over the bar. It was a let of for Arsenal. A late equalizer for the Swans would have absolutely destroyed the Arsenal team and the fans.

So…….. three points, nothing more nothing less. No statement was sent out, but we did what we needed to do. We’ve got a big game on Tuesday, and have to travel up to Blackburn on Saturday. This result gives us something to build on.

A word on the opposition: they played some delightful passing football, but no final product. If we are Barcelona light, then Swansea are Arsenal light. I think both teams have a case of too much foreplay with no ejaculation!

Leaving the ground I was a little frustrated with some of the Arsenal fans. I heard the following sweeping statements on the route to Finsbury Park station:

“One-nil against this lot, that’s as low as you can get” – Surely it’s not, we could have drawn or lost. The fact is we needed three points. A five or six nil win might send out a message of intent, but then we would have had the fact that it was only Swansea thrown in our face.

“Frimpong isn’t ready for this level” – Why? He was castigated for not keeping his head against Liverpool. Yesterday, he did a very professional job. He went about his job quietly and efficiently. He can’t seem to win! He is Alex Song’s understudy, and when Alex is available he will be on the bench. I think he did a good job yesterday.

“That’s not good enough for Arsenal” – You may be right, but you only get three points for a win. The same as Man United only got three points when they destroyed us. I’m not saying everything rosey at the club, or questions shouldn’t be asked. I just think some people aren’t happy unless they’ve got something to moan about!

Still……. onwards! We’ve got a massive game on Tuesday to look forward to.

I’m looking forward to going to the Arsenal Supporters Trust meeting tomorrow night with Paul. Should get a slightly more insightful look at where we are as a club at the moment.



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