Ladies and Gentleman; we’re back in business! (Sort of!)
Typing a few hours after the Swansea game, the dark clouds that have hovered over Arsenal football club for the past few weeks have started to part. Today’s game against a newly promoted Swansea brought a much needed win that will start to settle nerves and self confidence after the debacle of Old Trafford.
The pre-match atmosphere was upbeat, five new signings and two weeks to forget about previous games meant there was a sense of a chance to ‘start again’, 105 points still to play for.
The starting line up saw two new debutants in Arteta and Mertesacker. The rest of the line up was as expected with Frimpong picked as the holding midfielder and a fit for now Gibbs preferred over Santos.
Team; Szcz – Gibbs – Mertesacker –Koscielny – Sagna; Frimpong – Ramsey – Arteta ; Arshavin – RVP – Walcott.
The game started in positive fashion; Arteta straight into action setting up Ramsey who never found his balance to shoot on target. Theo, when put through, had a shot which was partially saved by the keepers arse and then fantastically cleared off the line by some guy in white who somehow survived a hefty collision with the post.
However as always when you play Arsenal, you will be presented with chances and Swansea’s main chance of the half was presented on a plate to them. With no pressure on the cross came and Mertsacker was outmanoeuvred to the ball by the Swansea striker on the stretch which brought about a world-class save from the Pole in our goal.
Arsenal’s winning goal came about in cruelly comical fashion. Theo tried to get away a shot from the edge of the box, it deflected up off a defender and Vorm ran to the right of the box to collect the ball. Within 2 seconds, the ball was in the back of the net. I needed the help of the jumbotron (are they still called jumbrotrons?) to understand what happened. The keeper tried to roll the ball out to a team mate further up the pitch but instead rolled it straight into the back of a team mate nearer. Arshavin, who obviously hadn’t tracked back, gleefully accepted the gift and hit the net from a fairly acute angle.
The second half was extremely nervy from Arsenal. Swansea didn’t have two banks of four anymore they wanted to press Arsenal and look for a goal. Swansea hit the bar from free kick and we struggled to get on the ball at all for period. Chamakh created and almost converted a header but the keeper saved well. There was still one heart stopping moment left for us all to survive. A corner to Swansea in the 92nd min, the ball flashed in and Szcz had a rare flapping moment, the ball was loose and somehow it was scooped over the bar from 5 yards out. A real let off.
The final whistle brought a deafening sigh of relief. 1-0 to the Arsenal
The boss seemed to agree;
“I think we started quite well but slowly the nerves took over. You could see in the second half that we just wanted to get over the line and we didn’t make a mistake.”
It wasn’t a vintage performance by any means (tough first blog!) but we now need to build on this. I’m struggling to pick out players who overly impressed but Arteta, Ramsey and Sagna put in solid performances. Szcz saved us early on and commanded his box well, even throwing in a cheeky Cruyff turn in the first half. Ok, his flap at the end could have given away 2 points but for a player who conceded 8 in his last game, today was a moral boasting clean sheet.
For me the question marks for today are around Gibbs, Arshavin and Theo. Gibbs was constantly out of position and easily beaten by Dyer. He did well not to score an own goal in the first half but that left side is still a worry for me. Add to this the poor tracking back and work rate from Arshavin, Gibbs was left exposed. As for Theo, if I say he had ‘one of those games’, I probably don’t need to say much more.
I actually was very impressive with Swansea. Very organised in their defensive set up and when they got hold of the ball they rarely gave it away cheaply. They are clearly lacking a proper striker to reward their hard work. I know Afobe is very much in Wenger’s plan this season but if he is sent out on loan in the Premiership, Swansea wouldn’t be a bad set up. Brendan Roger’s, who sadly missed the game today due the passing of his father, is an intelligent manager who respects ‘proper’ football.
A quick word on the atmosphere today. We started loud and proud, making sure the team knew we were there for them. The noise levels fell the more nervy the game got but for the final 20mins the home crowd took a leaf out of the away day Gooners book. ‘We love you Arsenal we do…’ rang out non stop from behind the goal and to the corners. If that’s the chant we use instead audible sighs and groans, then lets do it. We’re still up against it this season and we know it, so instead of getting on the players and manager’s back, lets support them through making a fucking racket.
Other goals were scored elsewhere but I really don’t care today. Right now it’s all about The Arsenal and getting the The Arsenal back on track.
If you miss the highlights or want to see things again then check out… http://arsenalist.com/.
Lastly, I’d like to quickly send a big thank you to Dev for inviting me to share my Arsenal views on World of Arsenal. I know he has a proud Gooner following so I hope you enjoy reading my drivel. Feedback and opinions are welcome on twitter, @Tottz82.
Have yourself a great Sunday.
Ps; What do you think of Tottenham…?