Sunday, September 11, 2011

Slow start of a chain reaction: finally an Arsenal win

Arsenal 1-0 Swansea


Okay it wasn't a glorious win but it was three points indeed, I would take that. We have had an abysmal start to our season, bagging just half the points as Swansea in our first three games. After our Champions League qualification, we needed something to kick-start our domestic season and there is no better way to do it than to go out and win. With Vermaelen out injured, Per made his Arsenal debut. Arteta was slotted in the midfield alongside Ramsey, Frimmers deputed for suspended Song and Kieran Gibbs made a much welcome return to the left wing. Other than that it was a regular starting line-up.

Arsenal came surging out of the blocks and Ramsey came very close to scoring when he shot high from a delectable Arteta pass. It was good to see a more flexible formation where Arshavin was also able to play centrally. In one of his moves, he set up the ball for Theo who outsprinted his marker and nudged the ball towards the goal in his run only to be cleared by a sliding Swansea defender. Arsenal was composed in the first half and as usual dominated possession. But as the game progressed, Arsenal started to look more and more labored. Swansea defended resolutely and denied space around the box. Our situation was not helped by gradually fading Arteta and clueless Ramsey who couldn't find any channel to pass. Historically there has been an unacceptable trend of away goalkeeper's having a field day at the Emirates and it looked like one of those days. But then it's natural that God start to repay us for all the pain that has been caused by Almunia's shite goalkeeping. The first payment arrived when Vorm collected Theo's miscued pass and tried to roll it to one of his players only to hit the heel of a fellow Swansea defender. Arshavin, cheeky little Russian that he is, was at hand to graciously accept the candy and shoot it right back into the goal. I was happy to see the Russian getting his due and hope that it helps him to regain his confidence and enthusiasm playing for Arsenal.

Swansea started the second half better than us, Scott Sinclair especially providing them some spark. Apart from Robin hitting the post with his curling effort, Arsenal couldn't make any notable move. It turned into a scrappy affair and I resorted to praying for Arsenal to finish the game with three points. Robin was substituted for Chamakh who had a good header denied by Vorm. Benayoun, who came on for Arshavin, spent most of his time running around the pitch aimlessly. In the end it was more comfortable than it looked and Arsenal hung to a much needed win.


Formation: What looked like 4-5-1 was a more malleable formation. Gibbs and Sagna were allowed to run as fullbacks which helped Theo and Arshavin to play more directly towards the goal. Gervinho would have caused havoc against Swansea and was missed in our attack. Arteta was disappointing with his positioning in the second half when he played too far ahead and Ramsey was made to do most of the passing. It's still early days for him and surely he will improve over the course of the season.

Defence: Thank God for Chesney. Since the start of this season, the merits of a world class goalkeeper have become quite evident. Chesney has provided a solid base for our defence which neither Fabianski nor Almunia could provide during their term as Numero Uno. Koscielny had a fantastic game at the back and appeared to possess all the qualities of an Arsenal legend. He has climbed a hill in his learning after the Carling Cup debacle and looks a matured player. Per had a patchy game but it is understandable being it was his debut. There is some way to go before he comes to term with the physicality of the English league. Gibbs appeared more confident and top quality when going forward but he is still unclear of his positioning while defending. He made some good sliding tackles and had a decent game but it's expected better from him. If he can manage to remain fit, he will face stiff competition from Santos.

Funny takeaway

Swansea player, Stephen Dobbie (14)

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