Swansea: A Comedy Of Errors

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Arsenal 2 – 2 Swanswa City

0 – 1 Bony (11)
1 – 1 Podolski (73)
2 – 1 Giroud (74)
2 – 2 Flamini (90 og)

The alternative title to this morning’s post was Arsène Wen ger: My Part In His Downfall, a memoir by the 2013/14 Arsenal squad. A point that feels like none is the best way to describe the mood after last night’s attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It sums it up when the players can’t even manage to do that properly. Post-match, the manager spoke of spirit, spirit and more spirit. I’m minded of the Paul Weller tale I related a short while ago; Arsenal are enough to drive you to drink at the moment and it isn’t a very long journey.

In common with the two previous occasions after a heavy defeat, the players were understandably nervous having conceded six at Stamford Bridge. That sense of trepidation was not helped by the lax play which led to Wilfred Bony’s opener. Too much space was conceded on the Arsenal right and Taylor duly obliged by crossing for the striker to head home. Knees will be jerking toward the transfer window demanding that Arsène sign him. If he’s still around, of course.

Arsenal were undermined from the outset by the inclusion of Flamini and Arteta. There was no need for the pairing in a home match against a team fighting against relegation who only know about clean sheets because they were in John Lewis at the weekend. It should have been a routine win and with two ostensibly defensive midfielders, Arsenal’s attacking outlets were curtailed. Indeed, after Olivier Giroud had given Arsenal the lead, the duo were overrun in midfield as territory and possession were ceded. It is a tactic which has worked previously this season but last night it blew up in our faces. Swansea were able to wander through midfield at will and even though it was comedy gold for the equaliser, it was not unexpected. And to be honest, nobody is laughing.

Lukas Podolski made the difference, it is hard to say if he would have from the start such is his own inconsistency at times. A goal followed by creating one for Giroud within a minute had turned the game on its head, Arsenal seeming to have delivered an ‘ugly’ win. Kieran Gibbs showed the type of reaction the manager wanted from Saturday, no doubt spurred on by a sense of injustice even if it had been rectified. It was his fine run that made Podolski’s opportunity. A pity that no-one else really followed his lead.

Everton’s win at Newcastle puts the pressure firmly on Arsenal. Manchester City arrive at The Emirates on Saturday with just six points separating the fourth and fifth placed teams. Fulham entertain the Merseysiders on Sunday before Arsenal travel to Goodison Park the following weekend in a fixture which could see them drop out of the top four, having played a game more than their rivals. To put it bluntly, Arsenal must win against City and with their confidence brittle, that is a tall order. Of course there are still twists and turns for the remainder of the season but a club which has made a habit of finishing strongly in the last few seasons, suddenly finds itself bereft of the will needed to achieve that. Actually, it isn’t sudden at all; two wins and two draws from the last seven Premier League games tells you all that is needed about the squad at the moment. They have never fully recovered from the drubbing at Anfield and last Saturday has finished the job. It is the sort of collapse we have induced in Tottenham over the years; is Arsène’s luck about to run out?

Perhaps a fifth-placed finish is what the club needs, to shake the complacency out of the senior management. Understandably there is fear of the unknown when it comes to replacing the manager. Like two generations of Arsenal supporters, Arsène is all they have known and I question whether they are brave enough to challenge him over decisions. And if luck does run out, it is of Wenger’s own making. The lack of strengthening to the squad is not just the past two transfer windows, it goes back further. We are left with a decent centre-forward but one who, when he has been needed, has not made the difference in the way a Wright or Henry could. It feels odd criticising a player who has scored 19 times and he has dug us out of holes this season which is appreciated. It’s just now, when he is needed, he has not delivered consistently enough. The scuffed chance at Stamford Bridge might have changed the outcome, we’ll never know but he scuffed it. An outsider looking in might take the view that his personal indiscretions have impacted on his work. It happens but it has happened at the wrong time for Arsenal. And therein is Wenger’s problem of his own making; his choices are a youngster who has yet to score for the club or a player who he has unsuccessfully tried to sell since 2010.

The problem is that injuries will be held in mitigation and there is merit in that argument. Ramsey has been sorely missed; Walcott, Wilshere and Özil likewise. Add Koscielny to that list and the extent of disruption to the squad is clear. The issue is that they take so long to recover, leaving the squad short. Ramsey and Walcott were long-term absentees before the transfer window closed. Signing an injured thirty-something on loan at the last minute indicates poor planning on the club’s part during January, continuing the theme from last summer. So whilst I sympathise with the manager on the way this has panned out, I find the situation in both senses hugely frustrating especially since this is nothing new; we suffer horrendous injuries every season. Eduardo and Ramsey having their legs broken is unpredictable, so are some of Walcott’s injuries but in the case of Wilshere for example, Arsenal exacerbated the problem even though they knew the player was at risk of injury through wear-and-tear. Necessity forced them into that position as a result of poor planning. Lessons are never learned it seems and that complacency needs to be robustly challenged by the board. Perhaps they do but if so, they are ineffective.

It is clear that a major task of rebuilding needs to begin this summer and contrary to whatever beliefs he may hold dear, Wenger is going to have to sign at least half-a-dozen players to replace those leave, as well as creating depth in the squad. Should it be Wenger? That’s the question only time will answer.

’til Tomorrow.

221 thoughts on “Swansea: A Comedy Of Errors

  1. just watching pool, what im seeing is exciting football, players with determination in both going forward and defending from the front. Pool just seem to have so many options when in possession which is down to constant movement of their players and that they are always hunting for spaces.
    Even this tight and resolute defense of Sunderland is gradually being ground down by the constant home pressure of pool. Willing runners all over the pitch are making attacking runs allowing pool to get behind Sunderlands park the bus tactics.
    Im currently watching pool in envy!

  2. on the contrary jjgsol, you’ll find the majority will miss your contribution..
    it would be pretty boring if we all agreed with eachother all the time..your the jam in my donut, the apple in my pie, the snow on my mountain and sometimes the pain in my arse…

    best of luck to you as well…

  3. Me too JJ – I remember getting pilloried by several of the old brigade on here who thought he was and always would be shit. What a nice bunch they were.

    It was blindingly obvious, when he led the line at Bolton with minimal support, that he was a right handful.

  4. Been watching Pool with envy most of the season – been the best team to watch this season.

    Still hope they don’t win the league!

  5. be careful not to be too envious, you’ll be getting told to go support them..

    but yeah you can see the difference in the way our team and their team plays..

    liverpool have that attitude where they say the goals that way>>>>> so attack it using varying methods and it makes interesting veiwing…..whereas we just fuck about with it until everyone gets bored and hopes to christ we dont conceed before we wake up and decide goals win games and not possesion stats…

  6. if they win the league jonny it puts a huge dint in the bumper of the resources arguement..
    a huge fucking accident that would be if a team full of ‘average’ players who were out of it altogether a few years ago stormed back and won the title because they got a manager with hunger and vision and wasnt afraid to take on the money teams…

  7. any player who arsene doesnt want is shit.
    any play who he sells is shit
    any player who he buys is world class..

    and therelies the problem with some folk…

    spot on with your earlier comments by the way about being in love with the manager and losing all perspective of things..

  8. Arsene’s been here so long there are an awful lot of fans who have known no other manager. They can’t imagine Arsenal as an Arsene less entity.

    Plus, in this internet age, many never go to matches and never will. It’s all about fellowship on line. Times get hard, circle the wagons. They have no other reference points that their experience of what a great manager Arsene has been. No non Arsene reference points to compare the current pale imitation of truly great Arsenal sides with, not without undermining their limited knowledge of the club and it’s history.

    That’s not to criticise anybody. We all support as we see fit. Its’s just that some have never watched us on a rainy night at Highbury, shared a terrace with our dad and friends, heard the stories, rubbed shoulders with the players, gloried in our history. To them, we were Wimbledon before Arsene came along.

    For some, of course, who don’t share this viewpoint, history counts. It’s not necessarily an opinion shared by many in this time.

    To put that into perspective, a recent survey into people’s knowledge of WW1 discovered that 7% of British respondents under the age of 24 believed that Margaret Thatcher was the then Prime Minister. 24% of Indian respondents believed that India fought against Britain in that war.

  9. Good night all !
    Think i will dream about chickens running around and amazing breakfast tables with fresh eggs thanks to Cbob…

  10. I’ll miss your comments jjgsol, though perhaps I am one of those contributing to the atmosphere you dislike. Too much agreement would be stake. I miss many of those who have collected elsewhere as well. But discussion has been remarkably civil despite disagreement. That’s its own sort of positive.

    Tell us what you are going to make for your Market stall Jonny! Ver haven’t had a good recipe from you or description of one of your cooking adventures in a long while.

  11. Jonny
    Would rather see Liverpool win it before the stolen money at the Chavs or the petro dollars form the labour camp named Qatar.

  12. Very nice post YW…..

    One point to make, probably many already expressed the same already.

    Our lack of planning will be compounded this season, this summer and after a World Cup, player’s prices will be exaggerated by at least %25. If we need to sign a few good players, it will cost us dearly.

    We sometimes get overly criticizing of players like Giroud, Koscielny, Sanogo, just to name a few. We need to understand those players are bought with intention of a long term investment. Koscielny from League 2 in France, suddenly playing for Arsenal in the Premier league. It’s a huge step up even from France League 1 to the PL. He was and is now a good investment, but it took him 3 years at least to get there.

    These investments are good, but they take time, and you can’t build a team based mostly on that philosophy. With the way Koscielny is developing, another club will be there soon with the right offer, and we will sell, most often than not, we will sell and then invest more long term.

    We need 3 more players of Cazorla/Ozil level to be able to compete, that’s only with loosing Vermaelen, Bendtner, probably Sagna, and Diaby if he’s not busy counting his hair.

    Where is Diaby? ………….A good idea for a game on your mobile phone?

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