Swansea 0 – Arsenal 2 (Monreal 74, Gervinho 90)
Man of the Match – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
You must’ve opened this article wondering why am I reading this. It’s been a week since we beat Swansea. Er, yes, apologies for that. My life has become a miserable tug of war between my project manager who has been treating me no better than a slave for the past month, and my immediate study commitments, which seem to be coming to an end in the very near future.
Of course, coming into this game, on the high of a win in Munich, against this side that has not lost since the Berlin wall crumbled, and on the dissapointment of not making it through, despite a strong performance, Arsenal had to shift their concentrations on to the Premier League. With just 10 games to go, and Sp*rs 4 points ahead of us, Swansea away now was an even more important game to extract 3 points from.
Thomas Vermaelen and Wojciech Szczesny remained on the bench, as the boss preferred Laurent Koscielny and Lukasz Fabianski instead. Elsewhere, there were starts for Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well, in place of Aaron Ramsey and Tomas Rosicky. This was Fabianski’s first start in the Premier League for over 2 years.
Arsenal’s new found defensive solidity of a week was clear from the early exchanges, as Swansea barely got into their usual Barcelona-esque passing game. Sorry Barcelona. Arsenal had a great chance early on, when Chamberlain struck the bar after he hoodwinked Angel Rangel.
Rangel and Ki Sung-Yeung then linked up to almost score for Swansea, but the Spanish full back shot wide, with only Fabianski to beat. Arsenal’s tormentor in the past, Michu, was then set up by former Villarreal man Jonathan de Guzman, after Carl Jenkinson made an error, but the Spaniard put his shot wide, after turning and shooting on the volley.
Swansea were patiently building into the match, with Arsenal conceding possession cheaply several times. Arsenal made forays couple of times, when Cazorla created a chance out of literally nothing, before Theo Walcott’s effort was blocked by a lunging Ashley Williams.
Santi Cazorla was particularly impressive all evening. His tenacity, close control and work rate was visible for everyone to see as he ran all over the entire midfield, creating chances and helping the team squirm out of tricky situations.
Michu had another chance to put Swansea ahead, but was called offside after Fabianski had to dive low to save a shot. Oxlade-Chamberlain was willing to take risks, as he had another go at goal, this time clipping the post as it went over.
Arsenal began the second half in earnest, with Diaby delighting and frustrating at the same time. He managed to beat half the Swansea team on what, 3 different ocassions, but his final pass/shot let him down every time. Santi Cazorla’s shot from the edge of the box was saved by Michel Vorm.
Arsenal’s defensive high-line solidity looked to be paying dividends, as Swansea were restricted to taking long shots at goal, with Michu and Pablo Hernandez shooting all over the place. Laurent Koscielny was again impressive.
Arsenal finally broke the deadlock in the 74th minute, when some decent buildup play was finally finished off by Nacho Monreal, whose shot across goal, beat Michel Vorm. It bought a huge sense of relief to me, my mates at Bangalore Gunners as we watched the game in the pub, and I am sure, millions of Arsenal fans across the world.
It was the Spanish left-back’s first goal since joining the club, late in January, and the joy was for everyone to see. The manager looked to shut out the game, as he bought on Ramsey, er..Gervinho and Gibbs late on.
And in a bizzare turn of events, Arsenal made it 2-0. With Swansea pouring men forward, Arsenal attacked on the counter, through Ramsey and Gervinho, running on his own. Ramsey cooly played in Gervinho, and even as he approached the goal, I am sure all Gooners across the world let a collective gasp.
But, soon it became a collective moment of joy, as Gervinho bundled the ball home. 2-0 to the Arsenal. A solid away performance. 3 well deserved points, and with Sp*rs showing typical bottling traits, as they lost to Fulham, it means we are just 4 points off our neighbors, with a game in hand!
Plenty of positives to take from the game. The defence finally looks like the defence that started the season. Collective, strong, unflinching, and tenacious. While the keeper issue remains unresolved, it remains to be seen who will turn top-dog..er..top-Pole. Carl Jenkinson was lovely again, running around like he was fitted with a Ford engine. Top man, Carl! Monreal was impressive as well.
Cazorla was at his magnificent best yesterday, and kept the midfield ticking, even in the absence of the inspirational Jack Wilshere. Up front, Giroud had another hard-working day, while Walcott was blunt. No guile, no pace, too many back-passes. He needs a rethink, or a rest. And despite my personal frustrations at Diaby, he did little wrong really.
And, nothing can be more positive than Gervinho scoring, his first goal, since October, if I am right. The goal would have done him a world of good, and surely he will now have more confidence when kicking balls. That didn’t sound right, but you get the point!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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