Reaction: Swansea (A)

Poldi does what Walcott tried so hard to do all game.

Poldi does what Walcott tried so hard to do all game.

The 3rd round FA Cup tie saw Arsenal draw 2-2 with Swansea. In a match that was close to being similar to the Southampton game, the Gunners were flat and uninspired, creating few meaningful chances and wasting possession. Swansea fought hard, resting some key players as Wenger chose a curious tactical line up for the game. In the last meeting between both sides, Swansea beat us comfortably 0-2. For long periods of time, this felt like a deja-vu.

 

Snorefest

I was nodding off before Michu came on and fired the Swans into the lead. Game was flat. Cazorla didn’t have space and couldn’t do anything. Wilshere was the only central spark going forward, playing with aggression that at times threatened to boil over. Our right flank was sacrificed. Our left flank was overloaded and faced a packed Swansea defence. We pressed hard which saw a few scary counter attacking moments where the Swans should have made them count. It was the kind of game you’d have seen from last season. Playing a high line, finding no space in a packed defence with wayward crosses and long shots.

 

It was the kind of game you’d have seen from last season. Playing a high line, finding no space in a packed defence with wayward crosses and long shots.

 

 

Michu

Frankly, he didn’t do much except score that goal which sparked the game into life. He took advantage of Per’s slow turn and bundled the ball home. But that was a striker’s finish. Presented with his first chance, he took it. And for 2m pounds, he is probably the signing of the season. His presence troubled the Arsenal defence. Wenger played a high line with Per and this wasn’t exposed until Michu came on.

Frankly, I don’t know what Arsene is thinking at times. Never use Per when playing a pressing game. Seeing Per on the halfway line is like watching a tortoise cross railway tracks. Per did well in the first half of the season in our, then, newfound contain and counter strategy. That went away today and for some reason TV5 + Kosc was not played.

 

Walcott

For the entire match, you could see he was waiting to score. Waiting, statically, at the edge of the box. I’m sorry Theo, this is not how Arsenal plays. You are no target man and you were supposed to drift in from the right. Our entire right flank disappeared because of your desire to show the world that you can play in CF. Guess what? It didn’t work out and it cost the team. Wake up. We don’t need prima donnas in this team. And boy, you are very far from reaching that status. Play for the team or ship out.

 

We don’t need prima donnas in this team.

 

 

The Mad 7 Minutes

Podolski nicked one. To be frank, I’m more open to having him try play CF than Theo. He works hard, presses all over the pitch, gets in positions and his snap finishing is good. Theo’s strength is finishing when he has time to setup his shot. Poldi is a ‘just bang it’ type of finisher. It showed today again. Great turn and finish.

Gibbs goal, let’s be frank – kind of a little luck. We know Gibbs better to think he can finish like that day in day out. Crazy cup game and Gibbs scored somewhat of a beauty, crashing the roof of the net from a rather tight angle. Props to Giroud for providing an excellent assist.

Swansea’s equalizer was again down to indecision in defending. Sagna was caught out poorly. This guy is having a very rough patch now. Would be wise to play CJ after all Theo’s not doing anything on the right and CJ is defensively sound. While many will just blame Sagna for allowing a pass after a corner past him, Arteta also stood static in front of the eventual scorer. Wait and see if he scores? He did.

 

Beaten By Pace

It’s strange to see Arsenal players getting beaten time and time again by pace. The only players who seem to be able to outrun their counterparts are Wilshere and Walcott. Players that we thought were light, pacey players showed a distinct lack of movement or were simply slower. Ramsey couldn’t keep up with Dyer, Gibbs was getting caught easily and Sagna was outpaced for almost the entire match. Even though Swansea did not press high and there were not many gaps behind to exploit, our lack of pace meant we couldn’t get past players when both started on an equal footing. More worryingly, even starting ahead sees our players get caught up with easily.

 

One Touch?

It may be pace or it may also be decision making. One touch passing is almost a mere memory now. The only players capable of pulling that off is Wilshere with his lay offs and Cazorla with a high rate of successful but few one time passes both long and shot. Besides that, it was the usual – slow down, look up… and then lose the ball.

 

Besides that, it was the usual – slow down, look up… and then lose the ball.

 

 

Strange Tactical Decisions

It may not be all the fault of the players. Arsene decided to employ a rather strange formation by starting Giroud, Walcott, Ramsey and Cazorla together. Walcott was employed as a RF that swapped into a CF depending on the situation. Ramsey was on the left. Giroud played in the middle and drifted to the left whenever Walcott swapped to CF. This overloaded our left wing and gave us basically only the left and middle channels to attack with. This also meant that switching flanks and spreading the Swansea defence was not an option and Swansea expectedly focused defending where Gibbs, Ramsey, Giroud and Cazorla mostly played at.

Some were speculating we were playing a weird 4-4-2. It wasn’t. It was simply a 4-3-3 that saw the top 3 swing completely leftwards at times. Given this tactical play, I would have preferred to start Poldi rather than Giroud. Poldi has the pace to power down the left and is a natural CF as well. Also, subbing Poldi on worked, didn’t it?

 

Replays Are Bad News

No matter how you want to see this match – a replay is a negative result. Yes, the FA Cup is probably the only cup we can dream of winning. But with patchy performances, I rate the chance of that happening as good as us getting to the CL final. You can call it a spirited display, you can call it a come back, or even a schoolboy defense. Heck, we showed why we are fighting for fourth with our lives today. It was not a good performance overall and the team is laden with an additional fixture – which is bad news considering we already have an additional game to play in the league.

In a way, I like the fact that the replay is against Swansea. Swansea has been somewhat of a bogey team. We have never performed well against them in all 4 meetings this and last season. We just can’t seem to cope with them. We lost away in the league in the past season. Our 1-0 home win had a tremendous stroke of luck thanks to Vorm’s blooper that Arshavin finished. This season? Two flat performances at 0-2 and 2-2.

Well, AW – here’s your 5th try at beating Swansea. Fix your tactics. They are a mess.



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