Swansea 3 Arsenal 2: The Gunners play like sure-fire Europa League contenders
The relationship between Arsenal and its ever-loving and faithful fans can never be likened to a relationship between two young adults that can split up when one finds out about the partner’s infidelity. It’s more or less like a “wedding” were most of the fans stick for better or worse.
In all my years as an Arsenal fan, I’ve made countless ‘sacrifices’ to watch Arsenal games and I’ve seen the good, the bad and more recently…the ugly.
Even if I watch every Arsenal game from different locations in Nigeria, I’m pretty sure I and most of the Arsenal fans in Wembley shed the same kind of crocodile tears when Obafemi Martins scored the winner in last season’s Carling Cup final.
Arsenal started yesterday’s match with some distance to make up following results elsewhere. Mikel Arteta picked up a mild calf strain so he was replaced by Yossi Benayoun. Andrey Arshavin also got the nod ahead of Thierry Henry in the starting lineup.
Arsenal went off to a flyer when Arshavin teed up the red-hot Robin van Persie that feinted a shot at first before lashing it past Vorm in goal with just four minutes gone.
Swansea leveled the tie when Aaron Ramsey was adjudged to have fouled Nathan Dyer in the box. The penalty seemed fictitious but Scott Sinclair dispatched it past Wojciech Szczesny even if the Pole guessed the right way.
Ramsey almost atoned for his error in the right end of the pitch but Angel Rangel cleared the ball off the line. Van Persie had another chance to put Arsenal ahead but he fired a right-footed shot straight at Vorm.
Alex Song was a monster in the middle of the park. Late on, he took on a few Swans before executing a delightful chip over the defensive line but no threat surfaced from it.
Arsenal started the second half brightly as Ramsey fed Arshavin at the edge of the box but the Russian launched the ball into orbit.
Arsenal were the own plotters of their downfall when Arshavin’s lazy pass to Ramsey was intercepted in midfield then Ignasi Miquel was caught out of position as Nathan Dyer finished emphatically despite Szczesny’s attempt to narrow the angle.
Arsene Wenger summoned the experienced heads of Thierry Henry and Tomas Rosicky to save the tie but the equalizer came when Johan Djourou through ball found the peripheral Theo Walcott that chipped it past Vorm.
Arsenal’s celebrations were cut short when Swansea pegged back the Gunners immediately through a Danny Graham finish that caught Szczesny off guard. The goalie’s positioning was suspect but the ball was lost far up in midfield and it was another defensive lapse the Swans capitalized on.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Per Mertesacker (who missed a sitter) but a late rally wasn’t enough for the Gunners as Vorm made saves from Ramsey, Rosicky and Koscielny late on.
Szczesny (6.5) had an atrocious defense in front of him.
Djourou (7.5) gave an assist that sliced the Swansea defense like hot knife through butter and made a last-ditch tackle that kept the score line respectable to say the least.
Koscielny (7.0) put up a committed performance but was too far up the pitch.
Mertesacker (7.0) made some brilliant tackles but missed a sitter.
Miquel (6.0) was the weakest link in defense and was exposed countless times.
Song (7.5) battled hard in midfield and gave his all for his side.
Ramsey (5.5) put up another putrid performance and had a hand in two Swansea goals.
Benayoun (6.0) wasn’t effective in deputizing for Arteta.
Walcott (6.0) was peripheral throughout the game but he showed his composure to score a cheeky goal.
Arshavin (5.5) gave an assist for the first goal but had a frustrating night.
Van Persie (7.0) continued his brilliant goal scoring form.
Henry (6.0) unfortunately had a hand in Swansea’s match winner.
Rosicky (7.0) injected some spark into Arsenal’s attack.
Chamberlain (6.5) ran at the defense and showed why he deserves a run out in the first team.
I’ve seen Arsenal play poorly but yesterday’s performance was out of the rabbit’s hat. Swansea dominated Arsenal from start to finish and showed everyone that they wanted the game more than their illustrious opponents.
I always hand out “quote of the days” to fellow Gooners out there but today’s quote goes to me:
@goonerdaily: “I wouldn’t mind seeing Arsenal in the Europa League. Arsene Wenger and his players need to be taught a big lesson for their lack of desire.”
Arsenal played like sure-fire Europa League contenders yesterday.
It’s no less than they deserve for the kind of team Arsene Wenger has assembled despite the glaring deficiencies.
It took an 8-2 spanking in the hands of Manchester United to open the manager’s eyes in the worst possible manner and he responded by signing five players.
Let’s see what he has in store for the team following the recent failures.
But as always,
In Arsene We Trust.
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