Ooi Kin Fai takes a deeper look at the Gunners' shock home defeat to Swansea City at the weekend and concludes that manager Arsene Wenger has to do something to address the issue
November has traditionally been Arsenal's worst month in terms of win ratio, at least while under the management of Arsene Wenger. It is the only month where Wenger’s Arsenal have a less than 50% win percentage (P112 W54 D22 L36). This season, the record stood at P7 W2 D4 L1. The start of December was supposed to herald the start of a better run of results for Arsenal and it was hoped that the team could kicked it off with a win against Swansea, but what happened was the opposite of that.
Wenger made changes to the side that last drew away at Goodison Park in midweek. Gervinho, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski were the changes that came into the side. Reasons for the changes varied from resting some tired legs, to players picking up injuries at Everton. The games are coming thick and fast, it is not unknown for managers to tinker with their side to keep the team fresh throughout the long and hard season. Rightly or wrongly, the manager is the one to make the decisions, all based on setting up a side that is capable of winning the game.
Despite this, it was still a lethargic performance from the Gunners who succumbed to our second home defeat in the league this season and third in all competitions. In particular, both the Spaniards in midfield looked to be running on their last litres of petrol. Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla have not exerted the same sort of influence in recent games as they had shown in the earlier round of matches. A lack of squad depth is the reason why both players remained as starters, and now they are looking increasingly jaded with every passing game.
With Cazorla trying his best to keep up with the pace of the game but to no avail, there was a distinct lack of creativity going forward for Arsenal. It is too much to expect Jack Wilshere to grab every game by the scruff of the neck and drive us forward, when he has only just came back to playing competitive football after being out of the game for 14 months. Without a focal point in attack (Olivier Giroud), Arsenal were left bereft on ideas on how to break through a resilient and disciplined Swansea defence. I wonder if there’s anyone like me who’s wondering where Theo Walcott has disappeared to since we last saw him in the first minute against Everton.
Credit is given where credit is due, Michael Laudrup faced a tall order coming over to take charge at Swansea. Brendan Rogers had them playing a very attractive brand of football in their debut season in the Premier League and Laudrup was expected to continue that progression. It’s fair to say that they are on the right track thus far based on their performances under the former Real Madrid legend. It is rare to see Arsenal being outplayed the way they were last weekend. Ki Sung Yueng, Leon Britton and Michu bossed the midfield.
Swansea scored twice to cap a memorable first ever win at the Emirates for them. Both goals came on either side of the 90 minute mark, and on both occasions, Arsenal had the chance to clear the ball but didn’t. We suffered as a consequence of it and there can’t be no arguments that we deserved to get beat because we failed to do the simple things right. Michu must still be shaking his head in disbelief at the amount of space he got at the Emirates. Both times, Wojciech Szczezny could do little to prevent the goals and it was down to the poor decision making from the men in front of him.
There’s a big dissatisfaction from the supporters about the path that the team is travelling on. The run of poor results cannot continue if we still intend on finishing in the top four. Wenger will need to find the right concoction of tactics and motivation to put the team on the right track once again. Otherwise he risks destroying his proud record of Champions League participation.