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Arsenal look promising and should be top of the league

Match Review: Arsenal 3 Swansea 2 - Premier League 15.10.16

Games like the one we saw on Saturday make me marvel at the resilience of Arsène Wenger. Arsenal have developed a habit of making games far more 'interesting' than they really should be. For Wenger, who lives and breathes this team and this club, it must be like going through hell every time this happens. The gaffer looks nervous at the best of times, so the tight games must really put him through the wringer and at his age, I can only be in awe of his desire to come back for more every year.

The selection held no surprises, as Wenger went with the same team that beat Burnley. However, for the second game in a row, we didn't look particularly sharp to begin with. It could well have been because of the international break, but the passing decisions and movement all seemed a little out of phase. Bob Bradley's Swansea team did what every team does and tried to keep things tight and congested.

Despite our some of our struggles, we have players who can produce something out of nothing and at the moment, Theo Walcott is one of the most in form players in the league. We'd put together a really nice little move, including a lovely pass from Iwobi, but the move looked dead when Bellerin was only able to nod the ball towards the six yard box. Walcott, however, stayed alive, nipped in front of the defender and forced the ball home. It's the sort of goal that's indicative of his new determined mindset and the type of goal we need to scramble in to break through tough organised defences.

Hard work is often rewarded and it was fitting that it was Walcott who was in the right place at the right time to capitalise for our second. He was front and centre when a corner dropped around the penalty spot and stayed calm to take a touch and then smash home.

Perhaps the team felt the game was already safe and relaxed far too much. Certainly Granit Xhaka did, as he lazily tried to dribble past Sigurdsson just outside the area. He was robbed with ease and Sigurdsson was clinical in punishing us. We've seen a bit of this from Xhaka so far, he has absolute bags of talent, but also some suspect moments. He's a young player, but he's going to need to learn quickly, especially playing in the Premier League.

Mesut Özil has been quiet since the Chelsea game, but Saturday was his birthday and being that absolute God amongst men that he is, he was kind enough to deliver us a gift. Alexis chipped the ball in behind the defence and with a single swing of his left boot, Mesut thumped the ball into the roof of the net and restored our two goal lead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Özil hit a ball that hard and I almost expected to see him go and apologise to it afterwards!

Breathing room? Nah, we choose to live life on the edge and somehow we managed to let Swansea in again. Monreal struggled for a lot of the game with Barrow and it was the pacey winger who created Swansea’s second goal, cutting it back from the byline for Borja Baston to sweep home. Both Xhaka and Koscielny let Baston get a free run at the ball and it resulted in an easy finish for the Spaniard.

As if giving up stupid, soft goals wasn't enough, we then had to contend with a baffling and damaging refereeing decision. It was Xhaka involved again, this time receiving a straight red for tripping Barrow as he was about to race away down the sideline. Everyone seemed to initially accept that it was a run of the mill cynical yellow, but for some reason Jon Moss pulled out the red. I’ve seen all sorts of reasons for why he should and shouldn't have been dismissed, but for me, it’s the sort of thing you see ten times a week all over the leagues. Ivanovic did it just outside the penalty are to us in the Chelsea game and got a yellow and there will be countless similar incidents throughout the season that will draw just a yellow. If everyone is now going to sent off for it then fine, but we all know they won’t. It’s just another awful call from one of the worst refs in the league.

What followed after was twenty minutes of gut churning nervousness. Swansea had two or three glorious headed chances that they should have put away and I will absolutely hold my hands up and say we 100% got away with it at the end. Barrow and Fer both should have scored, but at the other end, so should Theo. On two breakaways, he first hit the post and then somehow managed to clip the bar with the goal gaping. He should have gone away with the match ball, but in the end we were just glad to take three points.

You have to have a little bit of luck to be successful in this league, but the irritating thing for me is that we shouldn’t have had to rely on luck. We should have controlled that game and come away with a clean sheet really and that would have seen us go top. There has to be an improvement, because we can’t keep riding our good fortune. But if we can pull ourselves together we look formidable. We didn’t look particularly on song, yet we still bagged three goals and that tells me we’re in good shape. We’re level on points with City at the top and we have two winnable games before we face Sp*rs at the lane. Hopefully they won’t be as stressful as this one, as I doubt the NLD will be an easy watch…

ozil scores for arsenal on his birthday


Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka (R), Cazorla, Iwobi (Coquelin 68’), Özil (Gibbs 83’), Walcott, Alexis (Chamberlain 82’)
Ospina, Gabriel, Coquelin, Elneny, Gibbs, Perez, Chamberlain

Swansea (4-3-3)

Fabianski, Naughton, Amat, Fernandez, Taylor (Y), Britton (Gonzalez 60’), Cork (Ki 71’), Fer, Barrow (Rangel 83’), Routledge, Sigurdsson
Nordfeldt, Ki, Gonzalez, Hoorn, Rangel, Kingsley, Fulton

Player Ratings

Cech - 7/10 - Did nothing wrong, made fairly routine saves
Bellerin - 7/10 - Solid all round performance
Mustafi - 8/10 - He’s really proving to be worth the outlay, faultless
Koscielny - 7/10 - Little mistake for the second, but otherwise very good
Monreal - 6/10 - Struggled with Barrow’s pace all game, with not much support
Xhaka - 5/10 - All round play was fine, but that mistake for the goal was mega dumb
Cazorla - 7/10 - Pretty solid in the middle
Iwobi - 8/10 - He is some talent, he was fantastic once again
Özil - 8/10 - Wonderful birthday goal, he is love, he is life
Walcott - 8/10 - Will be upset not to bag three, but another key contribution
Alexis 7/10 - A lovely assist for Mesut, caused plenty of problems for Swansea
Coquelin - 7/10 - Did a very good, aggressive job when he came on
Gibbs - N/A
Chamberlain - N/A

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Tags: Match Review, Match Report, Arsenal vs Swansea

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