This is what it’s come to people, feeling quite pleased you’ve escaped deepest darkest South Wales with a replay. We set up with a pretty strong side. The only major changes came up top with Ramsey who slipped wide left. Obviously. He has all the ingredients needed of a wideman. I have no idea why Arsene doesn’t put Cazorla there? Surely the skillful Spaniard has more chance of making an impact in the front three than Ramsey, who often resembles a pigeon in a greenhouse when deployed there.
The game didn’t exactly get off to a flying start. Cagey is an understatement and possession was hardly in abundance. The first major chance fell to Danny Graham who used his power to bring down a long ball whilst easily shrugging of Mertesacker, he unleashed a beast of a shot that Chesney did well to tip wide.
Theo Walcott and Giroud had an interesting opening 45, with Theo deciding he’d like to play centrally, thus pushing Giroud out wide. Our formation slipped into a weird lop sided 4-4-2… or an unbalanced 4-3-3 that had hallmarks of Bendtner football experiment. The two did interlink well, which ended in Jack playing Theo in for a shot that was deflected. Walcott tried to force play a few minutes later but found himself hacked over just outside the box. Why he was allowed to take the freekick over a specialist like Cazorla is beyond me… more special ‘please sign a contract’ treats? Who knows. The kick was blasted into the wall.
Ramsey found himself through on goal after some in box confusion, he fluffed his effort which rolled slowly into the keepers arms. Cazorla was next up with an effort on goal, he spooned a Gibbs cross over the bar.
We didn’t have it all our own way, Swansea flew a speculative freekick into our box, Mertesacker again beaten for power, this time by Kyle Bartley whose header rattled the bar. Frighteningly poor from the massive German. Am I the only one who thought Bartley looked impressive? Or is it just that our centre backs looked so unimpressive?
The first proper attempt at Swansea’s goal came right at the end of the first half when Cazorla drove a low shot that required a dive from Vorm. The opening 45 had the feeling that most games with Arsenal have of late… that the team don’t know how to attack and they don’t know how to defend. We’re stuck in this weird footballing purgatory at the moment… it’s not chronically bad, but our game shows no sign of consistently breaking out of this circle of averageness.
The second half was more exciting. You know, in the way that neutrals always purr over…
‘Oh, the Arsenal fans won’t be enjoying this, but I’m sure the neutrals will.’
Anyway, it was a feast for the eyes and a famine for the purists.
Giroud started off the chances after he latched on to a Theo pass, his shot was fired straight at Vorm… he didn’t have the confidence to do anything else. Moments later the Frenchman scissor kicked a Gibbs cross at the goal which needed a very good save to keep it out. He kind of injured himself in the process, but manned up and came back on.
Ramsey nearly landed a penalty after being tripped in the box. Well, until the replay came in and it was clear that he’d actually tripped himself. Only Rambo could do that and believe he was fouled.
Michu was brought on and within minutes, he’d wrestled past Mertesacker after Koscielny had failed to clear… the Spaniard showed superb composure to place his shot past our keeper. What a disaster. Arsene reckons his scouting network missed a 6ft plus La Liga midfielder who scored 17 goals? Firstly, of course they didn’t. Secondly, by saying they did, what are you saying about your scouting network? I mean, if I was a scout and a lazy one, I’d look at the goal scoring charts and see if anyone jumped out at me. Especially in La Liga, it’s not like the Premiership where you can have technically average players doing well. If someone scores 17 goals, there’s a good chance they might be ok.
Perhaps we should all put together a list of players we could be looking at and I’ll e-mail the names over to Steve Rowley.
The fact Swansea had made 3 changes before we made one was worrying. Wenger, sticking to his ridiculously stubborn ‘I won’t change things until 70minutes regardless of how bad things are’ is really trying.
We didn’t give up though. Ramsey did well to cross to Giroud, sadly, the Frenchman headed wide from 6 yards. Moments later, he took a shocking touch which put an end to a good attacking move. Our moment came though. Theo overhit a corner to the back post, Sagna played it back into danger, the ball ended up at Arteta’s feet, he played it into the box, Lukas latched onto it with a turn and smash into the bottom corner.
Things really started to look up shortly after. Gibbs played the ball into Giroud, he chipped a delightful ball over the Swansea defence with Gibbs on hand to volley it spectacularly into the roof of the net. World class, in every way. Giroud making up for his lapses in front of goal with a magical assist.
Such a shame our defence had to ruin it. From a Swansea corner, Podolski sliced his headed clearance into the box, Ki controlled it, passed it Danny Graham, whom no one tracked, he took a touch and rifled it into the roof of the net. A shoddy defensive display again. So unprofessional, but so familiar. Wenger praised Gibbs after the match, but he’s just as much a part of the problem as the rest. It’s great having a marauding full back, it’s better having one who can be part of a defensive unit.
Swansea had chances to finish the game towards the end, luckily for us, the replay was secured. An outcome neither side would have fancied.
Arsene Wenger lives to fight another day. If we win in our next game, we’ll have Brighton in the next round. They have a nice stadium.
Another sterile performance from a group of players who are very good at keeping the ball for 60% of the game, not so good at really doing anything of note with it. Didn’t Wenger dig out Spain for something similar?
I’m always amazed that team that is drilled in pass and move sessions 3 times a week struggles with movement. There were a number of occasions during the game when the midfield had the ball but no one in an advanced position was moving. Totally flat footed. That, combined with a lack of ambition in the middle of the park causes a really turgid brand of football.
It’s interesting, because as much as we coo about our midfield trio, they really do struggle to make an impact. When Cesc was in his prime he was a factory of incisive passing and space making. I’m not really seeing the same thing with our current three, who, on paper, are really good players. Is it because they’re all quite similar, thus nullifying their effectiveness. Or is it because the formation doesn’t suit their skillset. Perhaps they’re tired? Whatever it is, we struggle to penetrate teams especially if they set up well.
Another thing that is lost on me is the lack of Rosicky when things are going down the pan. He’s a good passer, he’s positive going forward and he covers a lot of ground. He’s a good way to spark a game into action. How he’s overlooked in favour of Aaron is beyond me?
My final player gripe is about Bacary Sagna. A bad day at the office is fine, a bad month? Well, that’s not on. He’s match fit now, he still has the same pace as before, but he’s playing like an amateur. His head is somewhere else, if that’s because he’s half way out the club, then that needs to be addressed now. It’s a shame we didn’t move for Mathieu Debuchy, the 27 year French international right back. I don’t think Jenkinson is ready for the first team yet and he’d act as solid cover.
There are so many problems at the moment, I don’t know where to start. The fact the manager can look at that team and say, ‘nothing will happen transfer wise until Theo signs on’ make it all the worse. He’s not even world class! Not that it matters. I’m not sure throwing more players into the mess that is Arsenal will make a huge difference. You bring in David Villa, what does that do? We’re not creating chances. You bring in a centre back, what does that do? There’s no focus on organisation or tactics. The only way we get out of this mess is replicate the sides of 2004… because a side like that can manage itself. Trouble is, that’d cost £200m.
Adding new players is like putting more sugar into a cake mix you’ve spilt weedkiller in… it’s just papering over the cracks, or sweetening the toxic mess. I’m struggling to see what he’ll dp, the fact Arsene says we might add a couple of players because Chamakh an JD have moved on is perplexing. Were deals really being held up based on those two muppets who’ve barely started a game all season?
Whatever happens, we’re going to struggle this season. We’re rudderless, we’re being outsmarted by teams on budgets that are 12% of our total wage spend. It’s embarrassing. Swansea had a more dangerous bench than us today. What has this mess become?
As for all the people asking yesterday… ‘Did you read the quote in full’… to the Arsene wage control story. I’m not sure what they were pointing out? It’s like half the people who peddle these stories have never worked in a big organisation. I have to get my CEO to sign off a payrise. That’s the same in almost every role. However, if I sign off a payrise and that person doesn’t perform, it’s on me. The manager decides what people are paid, he’s paid £7.5m to do so, if he gets it wrong, it’s his fault. In the same way managers in normal jobs take the rap for over paying people who are useless. The fact that Arsene is on record as saying, ‘if you can afford to do it, do it’ is scandalous Eating up all that resource because you can afford it? Unbelievable! What is the point in building a money making machine if you have a manager intent on spunking all the surplus budget on bribing young men into loving the club? Total madness…
He controls the wages… that was news to most people and really, the fact Ivan signs it off is inconsequential to the decision making process. That’s where it might be beneficial to have a Director of Football who could question the deals. Anyway, that’s a conversation for another day… we’re still in the FA Cup. Happy days people.
See you in the comments.