Arsenal 2 – 1 Swansea City
A win it was but without the fluidity of victory at Goodison Park. At home, we reverted to type; a sloppily conceded goal and hard work in retrieving the situation.
Aaron Ramsey scored the winner and it’s harder to work out what he enjoyed more; the fact that it was his 50th for the club or a Cardiff-lad sinking Swansea. Does the latter come into it? As a supporter, you think it does but as a player? Who knows but it’s a nice thought for him.
Arsène, for once, saw a milestone match end in victory. 800 Premier League games in charge leaves him just 10 behind Fergie, but the debacle of the 1,000th match always haunts these occasions.
Ramsey’s winner came after Sead Kolasinac followed up on some strong centre-forward play from Alexandre Lacazette with a rasping finish. Unexpected sources for goals? Certainly in the context of the build-up for the match which focused only on the Frenchman, Özil and Sanchez.
Wenger praised the Bosnian’s contribution, which with a goal and an assist nailed him into the Man of the Match award. Withdrawn due to injury, Wenger revealed the summer signing is struggling with a hip-bone-connected-to-the-thigh-bone injury. It’s nothing new and the Frenchman observing that “we managed to get him always available” is particularly reassuring. That said, until it becomes a problem, is it a problem?
At half-time, Arsène told the team to pass quicker, more accurately; you know, the same old problems, so the solution wasn’t too hard to find. We’re well-versed in that one. Post-match, Wenger said that being in charge for 800 matches gave him a sense of déjà vu; he’s not the only one, we’d seen this one before on more than one occasion.
A Shy, Bald, Buddhist
It was no surprise that Swansea took the lead. They are a team whom we have plenty of problems against at home, even in the 1980s when they were promoted through the divisions to the top flight.
The defending for the goal, well, calling it defending is the loosest possible description of the word. The Arsenal right was carved open with frightening ease. Bellerin, dragged too far inside earlier in the move left the lumbering Cech exposed; Clucas finished well.
Cech, a fine goalkeeper on his day, is having too many days when mistakes are creeping in. A younger goalkeeper, more assured than Ospina, is a priority next summer in among all of the other signings we need to make.
Looking ahead is always daunting prospect, particularly with Manchester City in good form and punishing sides who let them attack. We’re that kind of side unless we can dredge the performance at Chelsea from within. Certainly, that kind of defending will see on the wrong end of a thrashing. The problem is that we have this kind of defending in us as often as we have a strong display; you just never know which one is coming, he said in a Forrest Gump moment.
The good part of yesterday was the flurry of activity from Alexis and Lacazette. Özil was Özil; flitting in and out of the game, stifled and a free spirit in equal measure. The trio were built up before the game, with the usual footballing bravado.
It was almost odds on that none of them would score yesterday; that’s the way football rolls. They weren’t bad yesterday just not the prolific goalscoring machine the pre-match had built them up to be. We do like to raise our expectations, only to see them cut off at the knees.
The Last Ten Seconds of Life
Kolasinac, with his display, is the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue. inadvertently, he also dropped the manager in the cart. He was, the question went, proof that there are still bargains to be had in the transfer market. Alexis Sanchez on a free transfer next summer is going to be an even bigger steal, just to reignite the debate from last week’s toxic AGM.
The win took us briefly into fourth, before we slipped back to fifth. While we travel to the Etihad, Chelsea and Manchester United square off against each other so the reality is this was three points we desperately needed. And we took them which is just about all you can ask of people.