Swansea City Preview: Ride A White Swan


Arsenal travel to Swansea for what is arguably their toughest remaining away fixture this season. Three points are vital today with both Tottenham and Chelsea enjoying routine home London derbies tomorrow; keeping the pressure on the two teams immediately above them in the table as well as those immediately below with Everton and Liverpool facing Manchester City and Southampton respectively. An Arsenal victory would surely put distance between themselves and the Merseysiders below them in the table.

The win in Munich has put a spring in everyone’s step but there is a marked contrast in the two fixtures. The Champions League match was one with relatively low expectations, few expected a win, certainly not one big enough to progress. Having come that close to an unlikely aggregate win, pressure now returns to the Arsenal camp. Expectations are now raised, quite rightly as well. With ten games remaining, slips can be ill-afforded in pursuit of what is deemed by the manager to be the minimum expectation for a season: Champions League football. That emphasis was carried in the words of Mikel Arteta,

It has to give us confidence but we have to keep our feet on the ground. We haven’t had the consistency required at this football club. It is a massive game coming up. We are going to face a very difficult team. So we need to get back on it, get the legs, we don’t have 72 hours to recover. This club cannot afford to be out of the Champions league. That’s in our mind. That’s the target.

The home fixture was arguably the nadir of the season, not just in the result but a performance which was devoid of imagination or positives. To a certain extent that was put right in the second half 0f the FA Cup tie in January when Arsenal came within a whisker of winning at The Liberty Stadium and produced as one-sided a single victory in the replay as you will have seen since 1997-98s relentless pursuit of the silverware. Indeed, it is that remorselessness that the misfiring squad need to produce for the final quarter of the season, achieving the consistency that has eluded them thus far. And if ever a single match underlined that the squad is capable of producing those performances, Munich was it. But the biggest failing has not been on the pitch, it has been in the heads of the players, confidence never instilled despite assertions that this small unbeaten run or that performance would do so. If beating one of the favourites for the Champions League on their own turf does not breed the necessary belief, I am not sure what will.

The biggest question for Arsène is what tinkering to do with the side. Nacho Monreal will drop back into the side and no matter Kieran Gibbs fitness or performance, I think it is a change that was always going to be made. The rest? It is a tough choice. Lukasz Fabianski played well but more importantly, his demeanour was much improved, more confident than before. But – and it is a big BUT – can he produce this on a regular basis; he’s played well before, only to be a short hop away from a costly mistake. However, if he isn’t given the chance, that question can never be answered. Wenger it seems has already made up his mind on retaining Fabianski,

Every position is up for grabs. You have to face it like that. The last game decides the next one.

The tough love approach of resting his first choice goalkeeper and captain being seen as a sterner approach to the squad, shaking any sense of complacency out of players.

Yet there is a balance, there must be resistance – probably futile – on the part of the manager to restore players to the line-up just because they are his favourites. For example, the temptation will be for Abou Diaby to be included at the expense of Tomas Rosicky. Unless the Czech is injured, that makes little sense given the balance of the side looked good on Wednesday night. Diaby will add a physical presence to the midfield but guile will be lost. Against a side who prefer to pass the ball, Rosicky offers more opportunity to exploit space than the Frenchman.

I would expect the line-up to show just the one change from Wednesday,

Fabianski; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Rosicky, Arteta; Walcott, Giroud, Cazorla

Arsenal need to beware of this match. They came unstuck last year in the corresponding fixture, sucker-punched having equalised. Swansea have once more produced a formidable home record, losing just twice in the Premier League this season, holding Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea to draws. Anyone who thinks this will be straightforward needs to think again. That’s the danger of wins such as Wednesday nights; arrogance and complacency take hold rather quickly. You sense the players do not think that and that is half the battle.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

267 thoughts on “Swansea City Preview: Ride A White Swan

  1. Some average play from the midfield in the first half, but we nicked the goal we needed and then turned the screw.

    A very good three points.

  2. just use Diaby to tire them out and put on the rest to give some energy in the end..

    fuck me! that was scary..lol

  3. I don’t think we have the luxury of allowing Diaby to play his way into form and fitness in the remainder of the season. We need to be playing our 11 best players at the moment and Diaby needs time we haven’t got to spare.

  4. The problem with Wenger is he plays seniority over form players.

    Only now has he had the balls to drop vermaelen

  5. you know Gervihno lacks say 5% of magic to go from clown to complete enigmatic crazy magician.

    He reminds me so much of Ronaldo in his youth, all trickery, all techique but always ran down cul de sacs and no end product.

    If 3gs find those lat 5% he will become the star he has the capability to be.

  6. Thats probably the toughest away game of the run-in done..5 home games and 4 away..come on Arsenaaaalllll !!!!

  7. So back up to 5th, 4 behind Spurs and 2 behind Chelsea. Would be great if at least one of the London derbies went the wrong way tomorrow.

  8. Cazorla is top class, he really is gold – work rate, vision, skill, confidence to shoot and attempt ambitious passes, love him to bits, MOTM today. Chamberlain looked like a mini Cazorla (ha) today too and was probably our best player in the first half, real drive to make things happen and works bloody hard off the ball too – unlike others. Thought Giroud and Walcott had poor games but you can’t win them all.

    Good stuff from the defence again, can’t remember Swansea getting any clear cut chances in the second half and I never really felt scared.

    1 down, 9 to go.

  9. Good win. Diaby and Walcott were quite poor. Giroud tried hard. Jenks put in a few good crosses. Donno what Rosicky has done against AW. He deserved a start today, instead Diaby got the nod and did nothing useful.

  10. Miyachi out for the rest of the season. Martinez wants to keep him for another season. It might be the best thing for him considering the lack of games he’s had this season. Might well be playing the Championship next season though if he stays with Wigan.

  11. i guess arsene may have been goin for a height advantage in mid, the swans like it on the deck, tough choice, i think mozart was quite bad his last game. still. class is permanent surely?

  12. well, AW won the game with his tactics so i guess it proves he knows best, even though we disagree with him. IF he leads this team to top 4 it will be a massive massive achievement…

  13. Well the first half was not that encouraging, I wanted to pull my hair out everytime we ran at the defense just to pull up to a stop and look for someone to pass to. The 2nd half was a much better team effort with fewer misplaced passes and little more effort in the final third.

    A couple of points of note for me, first, the work rate of Giroud is immense. He got an assist today but really it was his neat pass to Ramsey that allowed Gerv to score at the end. Secondly, for all the magic Santi has he needs to make the final pass more than always shooting. Santi has 6 assists in 27 games plus 1 more as a sub this season. There were two occasions today where he could have passed the ball left to an open player but chose to shoot through traffic. It is difficult to fault a team when it wins, but either of those chances to more open players (unmarked) could have opened or extended our scoring.

    Another good day for Fab between the pipes, he is continuing to marshall the troops at the back.

  14. That could be the reason, createstrain. Though I felt Diaby hampered our attacking threat. He slowed down quite a few moves. That moment when he powered past a few players only for the ball to go out for a goal kick summed up his day.

  15. Great tactics from Wenger for the second time this week too – we got the balance between attack and defence just right in the end though I thought some of our attacking players were too static off the ball.

    Not perfect but to keep Swansea away from your goal for 45 minutes is an achievement. 2 clean sheets away from home in a week. Nice.

  16. diego i agree completely, diaby was pants. wash basket pants. i was just trying to reason why he was kept on for so long. i guess he needs games to work his way up to freshly ironed, lenor smelling, monday morning pants.

  17. @Create

    13 clean sheets under Szcz last season. We have 9 more games to be played so we may beat that figure this term. Arsenal started the season with 3 consecutive clean sheets.

    Three teams have less goals scored against us this season, Man City (26), Chelsea (30) and United (31). Arsenal have (32) but Chelsea/United have played 1 fewer game.

  18. Do I have ESPN I mean ESP or what. I wrote if City stumbles this will open the door for us. They did and the door is open for us to get second place. this win was huge. Way to go garoto. Check out bobby gee word press. Liverpool lost and this kept them from creeping up our butts. We have a good shot at second place.

  19. I wish people would stop saying we can get 2nd. Stop dreaming, 4th is just about doable, 3rd is possible but unlikely. 2nd isn’t happening.

  20. thanx miami, thats not bad, id expect us to at least match last season with the games we have left.

  21. So our next game is Reaading at home, plenty to build on after two 2-0 away results against Bayern and Swansea. The team may not be humming along on all cylinders but they have definitely been industrious. The added communication in the defense the past two games has been very pleasing to see. We still need to establish who our playmaker is, I would have thought Sant but he seems more interested in trying to score. We need to find that fulcrum in the side to bring a better balance to the attack.

  22. @Create

    The pleasing thing this term has actually been the tight ship we have largely held all season. The problem this year has actually been the lack of creativity in the final third (never would have thought I would say that under Arsene). But if you look over the balance of the Arsenal have struggled to find the net. Some (Bill) may say that it is a direct reflection of our strikers, but I rather thing it is more of a depictation of the lack of insightful passing from the middle of the park.

  23. better home form and an exceptional striker please.

    i think more players are putting in a shift. my main grumble with abou and theo today. way too much ball watching from the pair

  24. True Zinc,

    4 clean sheets at home (conceding 19 goals) whilst we are 6 clean sheets (conceding 13).

    The same stretch of home games saw Arsenal score 35 goals, whilst on the road we netted 20).

  25. 4 clean sheets at home (conceding 19 goals) whilst away we are 6 clean sheets (conceding 13).

  26. I agree with MA about the lack of creativity coming out of midfield has been part of the problem, but one of the biggest issues has been movement off the ball from our front men – sometimes Giroud has had a lot of hardwork gone unnoticed because he hasn’t been found by whoever’s on the ball but equally I’ve seen him and Theo static and Santi desperately looking around for a positive pass to make, get fraustrated that no-one has moved into space ahead of him and layed it off wide as a default move.

  27. @Zinc

    I think Giroud is an interesting player, he has strengths in areas we usually do not play to like heading, knock downs and holding up the ball. Arsenal are for the most part a team that plays the ball to feet and rely on overlaps and pace to burn the defenders. I have thought that in his 1st season we have found little to be concerned about with Giroud, he has missed a few sitters to my mind but he is definitely a strong player. I actually think his channel running has been very good, the difficulty in assessing those strengths has been the poor distribution of crosses or through balls. Now that is not to say he is without fault, clearly he needs to be a little more composed in his finishing.

    I hailed early Santi, he was a stick and move type of player. I love(d) his movement and foot speed, but he has truned out to be another striker. If you watch games his first thought is always to shoot and score, whilst what he need from him and others is aneye for the final ball. Collectively the team has been weak this year in their final balls.

    I tend to think we would see much more production from Giroud if he had a strike partner. He is often to isolated to bring the ball down, hold on to it and then wait for support.

  28. Cracking result. We all knew we was going to win on this the most positive blog out there!


    You drank in Putney eh? What years were you drinking around them parts, if it wasn’t some silly old year then I might have been in there. Could have been sitting on the very next table to you.

  29. Not sure I agree with you on Santi and the fact he’s decisive is a good thing in my view, too many of our players are scared to shoot outside of the 6-yard box.

    You’re right on Giroud but there were crosses coming in today where he simply wasn’t hungry enough to be running into the box and gamble on the ball coming in – whether that’s our system or just him being tired I don’t know but I’ve seen a few too many crosses come in with no-one in the middle to benefit from them.

    I still like Giroud and like you think he has some strengths that are unique in this squad – still think we need another proper our and out striker this summer.

  30. @Zinc

    If Santi’s first thought is to shoot, who in the squad is the guy you are going to with regards to opening up the defense? I would have thought it was his natural role as the support guy for the striker(s)? I mentioned in a post above there were two occasions today where Santi could and should have have passed to his left to an open player. Of course it is easy to say in hindsight, I realise that but we need players playing with vision not staring down a tunnel.

  31. “Not sure I agree with you on Santi and the fact he’s decisive is a good thing in my view, too many of our players are scared to shoot outside of the 6-yard box.”

    I concur with you on the fact that to few players are prepared to shoot from distance, even when the ball is sitting up for them to do so. It was good to see Ox trying, though he was sloppy in possession and distribution in the 1st half.

  32. Pleasing to see Gerv more actively engaged in the past two games as a sub. Neat finish today, though I will not say I was confident he would finish.

  33. MA – Perhaps that propensity to shoot has grown over the season for reasons? I don’t know, but he’s always been one for long range shots – I think he’s probably the type of player who needs to build a relationship of trust with the striker ahead of him and perhaps that hasn’t really happened with Giroud but hopefully that will come, Giroud is actually better in tight space than people think, keen to make quick one-twos and move the ball around quickly in the area. Cazorla’s not perfect, perhaps he does shoot too much but I also think Walcott and Giroud have a responsibility to make passing to them irresistible.

    As for striker – I really don’t know, there are lots of options, but I agree with you on Giroud having a strike partner – perhaps Jovetic would be good because he’d be able play off Girouds shoulder and be a more direct link between the midfield and attack, he can play as an out and out striker or an attacking mid and that type of flexibility is likely to work well in this team. We’ve been linked to attacking mids like Gotze and Isco – buying either would leave us incredibly well stocked for creative players but perhaps that isn;t an area that really needs addressing.

  34. Oh dear oh fukin dear.

    Now I very much like our old mate george but his site is just one big bitch fest, do they ever go a day without whinging, moaning, Bitching or being up their arse. What a pathetic bunch george has got on there seriously..well I suppose he took all the deadwood from here.

    Shame as I thought it was going to be a nice sea of positivity but there is more moaning on there then on le grove.

    Sorry george. Surely you had more fun over here. Can’t see the fun in Bitching allday.

  35. Reading are doing a very good job of upsetting Manure’s game. They don’t appear to have too much of a threat going forward, but are really difficult to break down. Not worried about them scoring against us next week, but it could be one of those days where chances are few and far between.

  36. Great win today. Jenkinson’s work rate really impressed, Diaby’s performance really depressed.

  37. Nice to see a goal for Monreal, he seems to have settled in pretty nicely so far, just 5 games under his belt.

  38. Lets hope that Fulham and or West Ham pull off something nice for the Arsenal tomorrow 🙂

  39. Second place is do able. It will be hard but it can be done. Things have to brek right but so far so good.

  40. @Dukey

    I’m surprised you visited the site to be honest. It is funny that no matter what happens people their just cannot help comparing their excellent posts with people here.

    I’m glad they have a home to extoll their views but some seem to act more like jilted lovers. I don’t agree with all their views, I don’t agree with all those that post here but I do respect your right to have your own opinion.

    Yogi, for me you are a pure quality read.

  41. Couldn’t agree more Miami, Yogi gives the most unbiased and informative Arsenal blog on the net.

  42. wel if jenkinson continiues to grow like this we will soon have an all English full back pair in Gibbs and Jenks. It will be weird the day we field Walcott, Ox, Ramsey, Gibbs, Jenks and Wilshere. Its like an all brithsh team. And not just any british team but he back bone of the english national team and future captain of Wales.

    4th should be our aim. 3rd would be great but 4th, that should be the goal. And it is achievable, ones we are on 4th we can look forward- But atm take one step at a time and secure 4th. That would be great….

  43. what whas that michu thing with Fabianski btw? i hear that he went for Fab after the final whistle blew ? and that he had to be dragged away?

  44. Excellent result ARSENAL…
    Going from strength to strength .
    With some good luck we can make 3rd or possibly 2nd.
    booers & moaners get ready to eat crow. Here is for the home support being ready to do a proper job in our home games. One down.nine more consecutive wins to come. Enjoy the ride..

  45. Thanks for the heads up Duke. It’s incredibly amusing how obsessed the guys on George/Steww’s blog are with ACLF and the comments section.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but they left here because of the tone, right? Why in God’s good name are they still so interested and twisted about what goes on here? Why in particular are they moaning about the comments section not being positive enough? What did they expect? The lack of self-awareness is from people who spend a lot of time pretending to be smart is beyond belief.

    Just watch and see how people who had begun to prepare their minds for non-CL places are going to join the gloating when (knock wood) we do make the CL. They’ll point to doomers and fence sitters and of course, completely miss the irony.

    I’ve always said that some of the people pretending non-critical support don’t do it out of for love of the game or club, but out of their dislike for other kind of fans. Not very positive support if you ask me.

  46. I tend to think even if some are obsessed, we should not be. They have there own play ground now and let them have there fun in it.

  47. I know for me there are a couple of people at the blog that contributed good pieces at times here, that said they all pale in to any kind of comparison with Yogi.

  48. MA,
    Don’t get me wrong, I used to enjoy reading most of them. I understand the need of some to only surround themselves with people they agree with. I find it weird personally, but hey, each to their own.

    The ones who are truly happy about their newly found ‘oasis’ never bitch about this place or try to disrespect Yogi, imo. At least they stop when called up on it.
    I can understand that sour grapes behavior if you were banned from here.

    Anyway, I hope I’ve made my point.

  49. Understand what you’re saying Henristic but I trust that Yogi has banned these people because their posts were unacceptable fr whatever reason. I believe their site really is a more “pro Arsene” site rather than a pro “Arsenal” site. Sad really.

  50. JD,
    I understand why they were banned. I didn’t agree with it and said as much, but it’s Yogi’s rules. The point is that you can see where such people are coming from, to an extent.

    On the pro-arsene v pro-arsenal stuff. I see it differently from you. People find things they like about the club and emphasize that aspect. The bemusing part, imo, is when such people believe they are some sort of ideal model for every fan to follow.

  51. Apparently i am weak willed and basically a shit fan.

    It’s interesting that for someone who doesn’t want to start a ‘slanging match’, he was the one who actually initiated it.

    If you have so much disdain for people, then they are not important, therefore why waste you’re valuable time on them?

    I’m glad that some over there have at least said they don’t want to get involved.

    The only reason i’m even commenting is because my comment was picked up and used as an example by people who apparently think im less than shit, it still baffles me why you would then have the time and effort to slate people. I genuinely don’t understand.

    Oh and by the way, “supporting” your team through the internet actually has no effect at all. It’s the internet.

  52. No one on the whole wide internet cares about blog politics/bs more than Henristic. That thing about the customers resigned to missing out on the CL vs who/whatever the hell else he was talking about was just flat out gobbledegook. So hilarious. Nice one, dukey.

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