Swansea Preview: A Game With The Swans

Ray Kennedy (foreground) returns to Highbury as a Swansea player (© PA Photos)

Swansea arrive in north London in fine fettle, unbeaten in a month which included winning at Anfield and drawing at home with Chelsea. It’s a run which has left them on Arsenal’s coat-tails by one point. With Arsenal in similar form, the sensible money is on a draw, especially since six of the last ten combined Premier League fixtures have ended as draws.

The point at Goodison Park on Wednesday was, overall, a decent result; disappointing because of the early lead established, good for the venue and opponents. Taken in context, Villa was hugely disappointing with the only positive being a clean sheet.  Another tough fixture today although the visitors have been struggling to win on their travels, the recent victory at St James Park their first in the Premier League since the opening day of the season.

Arsène is aware that although unbeaten, performances should be consistently better, and need to be if Arsenal are to make any sort of impression on the top four,

We will come back. Now we have six games, four at home, and if we do well in this block I think we have a chance to come back. But of course it is vital for us to do well in these games.

He was talking about closing the gap on United and City which to my mind is not an eventuality worth considering. It might happen but not to the extent where they are going to be fretting about Arsenal; we have to focus on the remaining two places in the top four. On the way this season has panned out thus far, I would suggest finishing third will be a good end result which is extremely disappointing given the start the team made.

The champions invariably get over and above 80 points. Arsenal have to win twenty of the remaining twenty-four to reach that total; it’s a fallacy to believe they will get close to doing that. Realistically achieving the total of 70 points is going to be tough for the squad; fifty out of seventy-two points remaining is a massive improvement in consistency. Being unbeaten for the previous month helps but the draws need to be turned into wins. Those points steadied the ship but the next phase has to be achieved and therein lies Arsenal’s current problem.

It will help today that Swansea are a footballing side. The snapping tackles of Villa and Everton won’t be there; a different problem exists in Laudrup’s men being able to pass and move swiftly. They were able to do so last season but at the moment, the Dane seems to have imbued a more dynamic style than his predecessor. They have certainly been a breath of fresh air to the top flight and evidence to teams in The Championship that the Luddite approach of Allardyce is not the only way to succeed.

For Arsenal, injuries once more are playing their part. Laurent Koscielny has been assessed with the dreaded three week absence; see you in the new year, mon ami. It means Thomas Vermaelen will return to the centre with Per Mertesacker. Wenger is aware that his captain has not been at his best there,

[Everton] was certainly his best game since the start of the season [at centre back]. That will boost his confidence and hopefully get out of his mind what happened before when he was not completely confident. He was physically sharp, confident, calm and important for us.

Is it the burden of captaincy which has been the problem or just a continuation of the previous seasons? I would suggest a mix of both. Certainly since his injury, his form has been less imposing than his opening season. A lot of that would have been the high he was on I am sure, new club, scoring frequently and playing well. Hopefully doing well will have given him a boost; he needs it, the team needs it. A captain worrying about his own form is distracted, right now Arsenal need him to be focussed.

With Sagna a doubt, a rest is in order and CJ will be able to bear the responsibility of a run in the side with appearances today, Wednesday and at Bradford a probability. Elsewhere, changes depend on illnesses and knacks recovering but I can’t see too many changes:

Szczesny; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Cazorla, Wilshere; Walcott (Oxlade-Chamberlain), Giroud, Podolski (Gervinho)

Wins are always vital but this weekend, anything less is likely to see the top four become further away. This is Arsenal’s lowest points total after this many games since George Graham’s final season in charge. Those of us around then know the football is light years ahead of that time but the footballing world has moved on with the top two already pulling away from the pack. The next group is starting to splinter and Arsenal cannot afford to drift away from them.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

416 thoughts on “Swansea Preview: A Game With The Swans

  1. Purple Verve.

    That schedule gives us a good chance to get things back on track. Even if we do and we get back to 4th by years end it does not change the reality. Things have not been right for some time. Some changes need to be made. I expect the boss to stay but he needs to bring in some new faces around him and be made accountable. He has become bigger then the club.

  2. keep & play AA…
    re-sign Theo…
    rest Santi & Arteta more..(see what it did for Verm)
    play the more standard DM role (Coq, Arteta, Kos) AND buy a good one in Jan..
    use or sell Marouane..
    free Bouldie, let him do his thing or break it up (..if there really is friction)
    buy another CF…preferably world class.

    think that should do it..


  3. This is the worst Man utd team in 25 years.They are top of the table by 3 pts and 15 pts ahead of us.Why? the manager

  4. Bob

    I know what you said, and I wasn’t challenging it, but I just wondered what you actually wanted.

    “I agree that I have no faith in the Board managing any succession. My guess is that they were relying on Arsene to manage that as well!”

    So are we damned if do … ?; )

    By the way, I admit that I’m better at asking questions than answering them.

  5. Purple Verve

    I admire your ‘verve’ but unfortunately everything you said there won’t happen.

    Especially the Arshavin bit, he just comes in for a pay check everyday because the manager won’t play him. Can’t rest Arteta because we don’t have any accomplished DM better than him. Santi is the only creativity in the team to be honest.

    Maybe just maybe we’ll buy a striker, reluctantly, very ,very reluctantly.

    Did i mention reluctantly? Yh just to reiterate, very reluctantly.

  6. Me too, Matt!

    I just cannot see how this Board can manage any succession. They are a shell of a Board. Stan owns the club, the Board are cyphers.

  7. No more illusions.
    Change must be in the offing.
    Considering its just the 1st of December,
    mama Universe must really love Arsenal.

    In January..we will know.

  8. Arsenal are finally reaping what years of under investment, terrible squad building and paralysis at broad level have sowed. Arsene Wenger’s remnants of genius managed to patch over everything for a while but no longer. With well supported protests against the board, thousands of empty seats, ridicule of the managers decisions and due, lifeless performances of players who look lost and scared I think we coming to the end of that era Yogi has been talking about.

  9. Purple Verve
    December 1, 2012 at 7:24 pm
    “Bill, i concur”

    Is that Aman?

    Are you taking the piss?

    I thought anything negative against either Arsenal or Arsene was sacrilege. Things pretty bad, huh?

  10. The Gunners boss said his ‘cycle was not complete’ at the club and said he would not be stepping down – despite more widespread calls for him to stand down.
    ‘I am confident we will turn it around,’ Wenger said.
    ‘It is a good moment to stick together. We tried to change things and took risks, and it turned against us. ‘

    I hope the risks Wenger is referring is the serial selling of the family silver.

    The alternative, that continually making bad selections, doing subs at preset times and according to some per-match recipe while ignoring the run of the game and players standing still, passing sideways and backwards is what he considers “taking risks”, then he surely has lost it beyond redemption.

    A man as deluded as that cannot be expected to make a rational decision on his own limits.

    I hope he didn’t think we took risks during the game, I’d like to think he is still sane to some degree.

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