In a season that has not lived up to most Gooners’ expectations so far, this was yet another low point.
Was it the lowest of low points? I would say this came mighty close. We were outplayed by a quality Swansea side on our own turf and got exactly what we deserved – zero points on the night.
It seemed like we had reverted to the team of late October and early November – far too static, far too little movement upfront, and very little invention shown. It says a lot when the most talked-about chance was the ‘penalty claim’ by Giroud, which replays showed to be an excellent tackle from Chico Flores instead.
I can imagine how frustrating it must be for Gooners to see us passing the ball to and fro along our backline. But it must be equally frustrating for our defenders to look upfield and see nothing but tightly-marked midfielders and strikers, before passing backwards for our goalie to punt another hopeful ball upfield.
That played right into Swansea’s hands, especially as they didn’t have to deal with the aerial ability of Giroud from the start. Our opponents kept possession mightily well, and might have scored earlier on if not for Szczesny’s solidity between the posts.
Our Polish keeper was probably one of the only Gunners to emerge from the game with some credit. But he could do nothing about Michu’s brace, being hopelessly exposed thanks to extremely shoddy defending.
So to what can we attribute the lethargy displayed by the rest of the team? I do find it hard to accept Wenger’s reason of ‘fatigue’. We’re not even halfway through the season, so isn’t it just going to get worse? It’s not like we’ve played twice the number of games compared to other teams. We can hardly point to injuries too, as other teams have busy treatment rooms as well.
Perhaps expectations are weighing the team down. But when you look at a team that is filled with world-class internationals, it is not surprising that so much more is expected from this bunch. Football is not a game won on paper but when you compare the lineups man to man, we should be putting away teams like Norwich and Swansea, especially at home.
As expected, much of the focus has turned to Wenger for this poor start to the season, and I do feel that the onus is firmly on him to turn things around. We aren’t lacking for quality players, so this is much more of a mental and tactical issue for me. Wenger does need to rethink how to approach games, though his most immediate task will be to restore confidence in our players, and bring back that free-flowing football we’ve seen in all-too-rare glimpses this season.
I’ve spoken in the past about not putting emphasis on the league standings, and I do stand by my opinion that we just need to focus on raising the level of our performances. However, the table does provide some form of encouragement in this case – despite all the setbacks, we are still just five points off third spot.
We’ve come back from much larger deficits before (last season’s overtaking of Spurs comes to mind!), and we still have the majority of the season ahead of us. We may just need a win or two to get the wheels rolling again, so let’s focus on the next opponents, and let’s play the football we know we’re capable of.
Come on you Gunners!
Aaron has been an Arsenal fan since the mid 90's, and is currently a member of Arsenal Singapore, the official Arsenal supporters' club in Singapore. He is also a passionate Lions supporter, and he still dreams of seeing Singapore compete in the World Cup someday.