|Ospina was criticised for not stopping the goal|
In a way it was an Arsenal performance we've become accustomed to over the past few seasons, and indeed from our early 2014/15 form. It brought back rather dim feelings of the same old Arsenal. It was a story of wasted chances, over committing men and then conceding from poor defending. It was a poor game, a poor performance and a poor result but we must remember that we've been excellent in the past few months. It goes without saying though that it was a hugely disappointing way to stall after such a good run of form.
The first half was a pretty dull 45 minutes of football. Arsenal were intent on keeping the ball and remaining patient. Swansea meanwhile were extremely well drilled and resolute. They came to the Emirates with a game plan and it was organised well. They managed to overcrowd our attacking players in the final third well, especially in the first half when they looked to counter each time they won the ball back. It wasn't until the second half that we did open up their defence when the game stretched out more. However the amount of wasted opportunities was something we haven't been used to in the past few months. We've been scoring regularly so for us to not mange to put the ball in the back of the net was very frustrating.
It was perhaps one of Alexis Sanchez's poorer games in an Arsenal shirt so far. He was rather ineffective and was not his usual creative self. Late on in the second half he had an excellent chance to put us 1-0 up but instead he stuck it straight at Lukasz Fabianski. The former Gunners keeper was awarded the man of the match award, and in truth most of the saves he made were routine. Still, he kept his side in the game and showed the form he produced during our FA Cup triumph last season. Our play in the second half compared to the first was much better though. There was a faster intensity and we created a lot more. However when chances fell to the likes of Monreal, Sanchez and Walcott when he came on, they were all met with saves from the Polish keeper.
What I did feel we lacked once again was width, as well as a driving force from midfield. Aaron Ramsey has been up and down in recent weeks. I mentioned last week against Hull that he did indeed have a very good game but in home games I think we need someone that can drag the play out more in the wider areas. Ramsey doesn't provide that but does offer a good option away when we're trying to squeeze the play more and playing deeper than we would at home. Yesterday I don't think he had a particularly good game, especially against a side that were intent on playing defensively. Ramsey's been average out wide and if Wenger wants him to produce his best football he needs to play him in the middle again. With Walcott in poor form too, Oxlade-Chamberlain can't come back quick enough.
I mentioned the lack of a driving force from midfield. In my opinion that's what Ramsey is good at, but only when he is played in the middle. At the moment it's difficult to displace Cazorla and Coquelin. The game was tender made for Jack Wilshere who after impressing after coming on last week didn't do as well when he came on against Swansea. Nothing was really happening in the forward areas though as a result of a lack of width; the only person who was getting in promising areas was Alexis Sanchez who made the odd run in behind.
However Arsenal's lack of impetus going forward despite the creative outlets in the team wasn't the worst part of the night. Instead our defending for the goal was. Swansea weren't playing with a central striker until the last 15 minutes or so. In my opinion taking Francis Coquelin off at 0-0 was critical in terms of us conceding. Once he went off there was a noticable gap and there was less cover for the defence. However the goal stemmed from errors in the build-up. Monreal had had a good game up to the goal but he allowed a simple one-two to go by him. The cross in wasn't great but it came out to Montero on the opposite flank. For some reason both Mertesacker and Koscielny went for the same man which left Bafetimbi Gomis to out jump Nacho Monreal. Gomis on Moneral meant it was almost identical to Gomis' goal at the Liberty in November. However this goal could have been further prevented. Ospina got down slow and was in a poor position as the cross came in. Originally it didn't look as though it had crossed the line but goal-line technology rightly said it had gone over.
Although the goal could've been prevented and the game should've been won before that moment, it reaffirmed what pundits have been saying about the fact that we need a top quality keeper in order to compete properly at the top. Not much has been made of Ospina, he's been comfortable in goal but nothing to write home about. However I do agree that we need a goalkeeper, a player that we haven't really had since the days of Jens Lehmann and David Season. For example David de Gea has won games on his own for United this season. It does beg the question though of who is actually available. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head, especially as Chelsea won't sell us Cech whilst rumours continue to circulate about Iker Casillas who appears likely to stay at Real Madrid.
The loss, despite not having a huge effect on the season now, did have a lot of talking points, and it quickly brought us back down to earth. These games are shock results, but we do need 2 or 3 signings to really challenge for the title next season. As for the present, we need to focus on the remaining three games in the League and that starts with Manchester United next Sunday.
The team's line-ups:
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin(67), Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud(69).
Subs: Szczesny, Gabriel, Gibbs, Flamini, Wilshere(67), Rosicky, Walcott(69).
Swansea: Fabianski, Rangel(60), Williams, Fernandez, Taylor, Cork, Ki(73), Dyer(79), Shelvey, Montero, Sigurdsson.
Subs: Tremmel, Richards(60), Grimes, Britton, Barrow(79), Emnes, Gomis(73).
Referee: Kevin Friend.