Supporter Aaron Ong says the team did well to bounce back from recent losses with victory against Swansea at the weekend and explains why securing European football is important
The past few weeks have not been kind to Arsenal fans, with losses to Blackburn and Bayern Munich in cup competitions topped off with a North London derby defeat brought about by calamitous defending. A ten-day break ensued, and how we have responded since then!
First, we had a repeat of last year’s Champions League exit, with ‘glorious defeat’ the phrase being bandied about. I’m not sure ‘glorious’ is the most apt word in this case but the fact remains that we won away at Bayern Munich, a team that has been imperious at home this season. It wasn’t enough to progress, but the hope remained that this win would spur us on for the rest of the league campaign, much like last year’s 3-0 win over Milan.
And we’ve gone on to pass the next test with flying colours. I suspect many expected us to struggle over in Wales, but the end result speaks for itself. A second consecutive clean sheet, which was achieved while restricting Swansea to ZERO shots on target - that’s ZERO for you, no easy feat considering the way they’ve carved open many defences this year.
Our two goals came late, and via rather unlikely sources. Our leftback Nacho chose a great moment to open his Arsenal account, though it seemed an eternity before his shot nestled in the back of the net! It was also great to see a long overdue goal from Gervinho, who took his chance really well. If he can rediscover his scoring touch from early in the season, then he could well rejuvenate our rapidly tiring frontline.
And that’s precisely what we have – a tired frontline. Giroud and Walcott have been played to the ground in recent weeks and sad to say, they’ve become increasingly ineffective. A shake-up in defence has reaped rewards for these past two games, but unfortunately a lack of options does limit what we can do in attack.
What we can do is to change our attacking approach – high balls to Giroud do not make a good plan at this time. Yes, he tries his best to win every ball, but we’re so much more fluid when we keep the ball on the ground, especially when we have supremely talented ball-players like Cazorla.
I think enough praise has been heaped upon our Spanish wizard, so I’ll highlight the contributions of another player instead. I thought Jenkinson put in a terrific shift, covering practically every blade of grass on the right side of the pitch. He was driving forward and putting in crosses, tracking back and making tackles… he was everywhere he needed to be! His mistake led to Swansea’s second back at the Emirates, but young Carl more than redeemed himself with this swashbuckling performance.
With Spurs suffering their third loss in a row, we now find ourselves four points off fourth spot with a game in hand. Not so bad, eh? But this is hardly the time to congratulate ourselves. We’ve seen that our rivals are susceptible to dropping points, so we just have to keep racking them up and reeling our rivals in.
We are in yet another trophy-less season, but it is imperative that we still fight for those Champions League spots. I’ve heard another alternative view – that we need to fail, so as to provide a wake-up call to the management, resulting in an overhaul of the squad.
My answer to that – how would we attract top talent without the lure of Champions League football? Arsenal isn’t going to attract players because of the high wages anytime soon, so the chance to play at Europe’s premier club competition is by far the biggest card we can play.
We only need to look at Leeds and (to some extent) Liverpool to see that bouncing back is by no means a trivial task. So let’s do all we can to hold onto those top spots, because slipping from them could well be a one -way ticket.
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.