Arsenal 0 – 2 Swansea City
0 – 1 Michu (88)
0 – 2 Michu (90)
It crushes you in the end, being a football supporter.
For the generation who have only supported the club during the Wenger reign, this is a new feeling. Those of us around since the 1980s and before, we’ve got our Arsenal back. The old inconsistent Arsenal who could go on serious runs without scoring more than a goal a game or not even at all. The old Arsenal who were more than capable of turning out a performance like this on a regular basis. The old Arsenal who were capable of playing appallingly at home and then turning on the style in the next away game, winning by several goals when you least expected it.
We’ve got our Arsenal back. Next time be careful what you wish for.
Thirty-one years ago, Swansea arrived at Highbury and took the points back to South Wales, climbing to second in the table as a result. Arsenal descended into 18th place following that game. Now we find ourselves 10th in the Premier League, just six points off the Champions League places but never has a points difference felt like such a gulf. Personally, I don’t agree with booing the team off the pitch but I understand why. After a performance like that, I would never condemn those who chose to express their opinions in that manner either. Something has to change but what is that something?
Explaining all of this, the ups and downs of football, the joy and suffering it brings, to a ten year-old is one of those rites of passage that a father has to endure.
“So Dad, does this mean Arsenal are like Liverpool now?”
Ouch. It had more cutting edge than Arsenal.
It is hard to fathom why Olivier Giroud was dropped to the bench. Starved of service at Villa Park, he led the line well at Goodison Park. Gervinho might be more unpredictable perhaps that’s why he was included. It is the only unpredictable thing about Arsenal at the moment. The attacking dynamic has been blunted, the passing in crucial areas has become ponderous, laboured; there just isn’t the speed about the forwards or midfield that was there when afternoons were sunny. Or if Tottenham are the opposition.
It’s not the failure, I can live with the failure; it’s the hope that kills you.
Swansea were the better side in the first half, no question of that. They passed well and when you look at the midfield that Arsenal had, it is hard to see why. Cazorla, Wilshere and Arteta are some of the best passers in the country but the game passed them by. When you have an average squad, it’s easy to improve them, to buy better. When you have good players out of form, playing badly, the solutions are incredibly hard to find and implement. Were it so simple as buying a player or two in the footballing Habitat, Arsène would have done it already, announced it and have them ready to join on January 1st. Maybe it is that simple, maybe that will happen; I remain unconvinced. Then again, if I had the answers, I would have told Arsène already.
It isn’t just about one result, in the unbeaten mini-run which just ended, where were the good performances? Where was the dominance, the slow-burning improvement that left you thinking it was all coming together nicely. No, I didn’t see them either.
Five points off third isn’t the end of the world, it isn’t insurmountable and I wouldn’t be surprised if this Arsenal squad closed the gap and reeled them in. You just wouldn’t be surprised but you don’t expect it. There are not the outstanding teams that make you think it is out of reach. That’s the plus, the hope comes with an improvement in Arsenal’s form, you can’t give up before Christmas. You can’t, can you?
But is this the season when the wheels come off?
I asked the question on Friday about complacency and I don’t think that is a problem with the players, they aren’t confident enough to be complacent. Suggestions that Wenger has lost the dressing room? I don’t think so, can’t tell you why but I don’t think so. Yet. Not speaking to Bould? Don’t believe it, the former centre back is too strong a character to put up with those working conditions. And so is the manager.
More questions than answers.
A win wasn’t out of the question, Giroud might have won a penalty – I thought it was, I’m sure the replays will show you whether Clattenburg was right or wrong but when you are left looking at that sort of non-opportunity as to where three points was coming from, you know it was bad. Appalling. Papering over cracks.
And onto Greece. Pick themselves up, work on the training pitch. I would suggest that some will be left at home but not that many. Give Cazorla a rest, Squillaci a game. Finishing top or second, it is not that much difference in this season’s Champions League. A new game. Forget the past. Or the game that passed us by.