Giroud looks relieved, like a man who had been waiting for an hour to take a piss at an open air festival

Arsenal v. Swansea: Ugly Ducklings

Arsenal may be tired, they may be bruised, they may be beaten, and they may be in the midst of a roller coaster season but given the fact that the FA Cup is Arsenal’s best chance at a trophy this season I am expecting Arsenal to come out today and put the Swans through (at least) 90 minutes of, erm, Hell.

Ok, let’s face it, given the fact that Laudrup’s Swansea have spent the last three matches in their shell, coupled with their recent semi-success against Arsenal playing counter attacking football, and the fact that Arsenal just played a draining 10 v. 11 against Chelseaity this match probably won’t be a typical “FA Cup” tie. That is to say that rather than a lot of full-blooded tackles and pressing all over the pitch, we are probably looking at a more pacific match with one of the two teams dominating possession and the other trying to hit out on the counter.

Swansea are known for possession football but they have surprised everyone in the last three games by sitting back against Arsenal, Chelsea, and Everton, inviting pressure, and hitting them on the counter. They’re playing like the ugly ducking right now (surely someone has made this analogy?): they have faced 55 shots (20 on goal) and have responded with just 13 (8 on goal) shots of their own. Thanks to Michu and Graham, who have 2 goals each, the ugly ducklings have bloomed into swans and scored 50% of their shots on goal whilst only conceding 10%, both to the Arsenal.

Meanwhile, with Rosicky and Arteta injured Arsene has little choice but to start Cazorla and Diaby with Wilshere in midfield no matter how tired they all are after a draining match on Sunday. There is the “little choice” of starting Ramsey over Cazorla or Diaby but I’m not sure Wenger likes to mix up the midfield so much. Ramsey does have fresher legs and could be a surprise inclusion, possibly as a fourth midfielder, out wide, just to get on everyone’s pecs.

Giroud looks releived, like a man who had been waiting for an hour to take a piss at an open air festival

Up front, I fully expect Arsene to start Olivier Giroud. Or maybe I should say “I fully wish that Arsene would start Giroud”. Giroud can put a physical stamp on the match and has a good partnership in attack with Podolski and Walcott along side him. Let’s hope that his gash is healed because if Arsenal are going to play their typical pressing-deep-in-the-opposition-box style then he will add a different dimension to the attack. Yes, I know: gash, box, etc.

At the top of the article I was intentionally oblique saying that “one of the two teams would dominate possession with the other trying to hit out on the counter” because the more that I think about it, the more uncertain I am that Arsenal have the energy to play their normal possession hoarding style.  Swansea, on the other hand, are on an extra day’s rest, have been playing very conservatively for three straight matches, and on a streak of 7 matches unbeaten. It will be interesting to see which team tries to deploy the rope-a-dope style, both of them can’t because at some point tonight’s match has to be won.

When Arsenal play high up the pitch they are prone to individual defensive errors or as I have put it, they play with 88 minutes of tedium and 2 minutes of terror. A reality that Swansea’s Spanish striker Michu has exploited successfully already this season. So, given the tired legs and the importance of the game as Arsenal’s last real chance at a trophy, is it even thinkable that Arsenal revert to the deeper defensive system they played in the first three matches of the season? That the Gunners tighten things up defensively and try to use Walcott’s pace to undo the Swans?

Regardless of what system they employ, I think Arsenal have the quality to go through to the next round and face Brighton on the shores of & Hove Albion.


26 thoughts on “Arsenal v. Swansea: Ugly Ducklings

  1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1jop

    Who is playing wide? I’m guessing Cazorla and Walcott? They aren’t doing a great job of creating any width or space.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1marek

      I actually thought this was pretty cool. No clear-cut wingers. Sometimes Cazorla is there, sometimes Walcott, sometimes it’s just Sagna going forward… gave us numbers in mid-field (although, Swansea’s 26 was allowed too much time and made a few killer passes).

  2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Just loved the kid when he knocked the tip of the index finger to the side of the head…in the last minute..when Santi should have taken the ball to the corner…

    Very good shift put in by Sagna and Vermaelen….

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

    A great win for Arsenal. I do worry about the fatigue that might come from the players who played 90 minutes. I thought Podolski or Chamberlain might played, but maybe they were prepared for the Chelsea game. Another good news is Chelsea seems to not getting a good result in their home games. With our away performances, I think we might get a win.

    On another note, are you aware of a supposed 30 millions bid from us to a certain player? I think you might have an educated guess to who might be that we bid. I thought it might be Lewandowski, but he is in the 21-25 players bracket who we have a difficulty with to bring to Arsenal. I seriously doubt Falcao or Cavani, because 30 millions is not enough to even be considered by their owners club. They are a 45-60 millions bracket players. So, in the end, I don’t have a clue.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

      Actually if using Tim deduction, 30 millions bid could have been for Goetze. If report to be believed, he have a 30 million release clause. That means Cazorla could be free to be put in the wing like today, and striker position covered with Giroud, Podolski and Walcott.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1jop

        I have to disagree. I never want to see Cazorla on the wings. Sure he’s better defensively and can dribble better than any of our wingers. However, he’s not got the pace to break through, and it makes our play unbalanced and predictable (play down the right).

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Playing wide left was Gibbs.

        Cavani would be a fantastic signing but seems unlikely for price, unless there is something about Napoli’s finance that we don’t know about.

        You can forget about Goetze.

        Santi can play wide. We don’t always need speed. Sometimes we need a bit of trickery. That said, he is obviously more useful tucked in. Seems to me he was given a brief to roam because he was found wide right as well.

  4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    Holy f***ing crap! Is this the match that’s remembered as Jack’s coming out party? A lot of good performances but he was MOTM. I can only hope that, unlike with Cesc, we build a great team around him.

  5. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1CarsonWells

    I just pictured a moment ten years from now. A battle-scarred man leads a dynamic arsenal team, as the respected and undisputed captain, into the champions league final for the fourth time in their long history. He wears the armband for the hundredth, two hundredth time. He looks at his team mates. He communicates more in one look than any other clad in red and white ever could. He knows this is it. And in the next 90 minutes, he transcends history.

    Our biggest priority isn’t trophies. It’s keeping this man.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Looking forward to watching this game on Yes Network as part of their Arsenal package tomorrow. Pleased to read that Sagna and vermaelen played well. Read that we had ’3 goals’ cleared off the line and 1 post from Walcott.

    I’m glad that Wenger ‘addressed’ my concerns over the players physiologic monitoring status.

    Just because a red card gets over turned does not mean that the call was wrong. The rule is in place to prevent serious injury from ‘reckless’ tackles and that’s how Dean saw the play in real time.

    I can’t watch La Liga (and what’s the point) and a I can’t watch Serie A but I can still watch the Guardiola ‘project’ evolve.

    Sounds like Allardyce is asking for the FA to just revoke his citizenship and deport him for his attack on Phil (I’m the new Mike Riley) Dowd.

    If every player ever linked with Arsenal is going to QPR, Newcastle, Man U and Everton, just WTF does that leave us to buy? Wenger, you’d better surprise me.

    The other day the Metro took a shot at the Arsenal ticket price by stating that the Florida Panthers were going to lower their season and game day tickets prices to ridiculous low amounts to win back fans after the lock out. The only problems with the article was that they showed the Carolina Hurricanes which while popular are no Arsenal. The Panthers on the other hand couldn’t sell out even if their tickets were free with food, beer and limos thrown in. Lame anti-Arsenal attack from a lame British media organization.

    Hockey is back to fill inthe time waiting for the next Arsenal match :)

  7. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1ignatzuk

    Just watched a live recording of the game, without knowing the score. What a battering we gave them in the second half! The rebalancing of the midfield looked great, Diaby did OK, Coquelin did very well. Gibbs was great. Wilshere… well, the way he can take a ball, turn, hold off defenders and drive us forward is kind of priceless. I’d like to see his turnover stats. He’s the main reason we didn’t start to get nervy or down when the goal just wouldn’t come.

    On the downside, Walcott was, well, pants. Fluffed three great chances to score, made some bad choices. Never mind, his lack of consistency is something we have to live with until it improves. Still look a bit nervy at the back.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Diaby made a huge difference for us.

      Still not quite up to speed but you can see he is a much more mature player and knows when to drop back and go forward when need be. He simply gives us something unreplicable in the squad at the moment with his physique.

      The only risk of course being his injury issues but as Wenger mentioned in the press conference, the same was said about RVP. If Diaby stays free of injury, we have a massive asset in him. OTOH, it is just that much more of a risk at the moment.I actually think Wenger is keeping out for an Arteta replacement as much as it is a Diaby back up.

      Coquelin. There is an extremely good player in him waiting to shine. Technically, he is so comfortable on the ball, his movement at times reminds me of Henry. I think he should have been played more early in the season particularly with the league cup. If he starts to find passing range, he is going to add a lot of creativity for us.

      With Diaby and Coquelin holding, it gives us a great opportunity to push Jack up the pitch. I mentioned this in the summer as a possibility that Jack should be playing just behind the striker.
      He looks every bit the player that thrives in the position and affords us the opportunity to press higher up and that will make a massive difference.

  8. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1limet

    The second half performance was as good as anything we’ve produced all season, whilst the first half was the usual tippy tappy go-slow and don’t dare to shoot effort that has been a regular event in the first half of games this season. Why does it seem to pan out like that these days? God knows, because it was clear that when we stepped up the tempo in the second half that we had too much for Swansea and if we’d started like that we could have put them to the sword long before Jack’s goal as they did sweet FA except Bartley hitting the bar

    We’ve got three guys in the side who give their all week in, week out – Wilshere, Gibbs and Vermaelen. They’ve all got their faults and people are quick to pounce on the odd defensive lapse from the latter two but they worked their socks off again last night, especially Gibbs who gets precious little support defensively and covers every blade of grass up and down the left side. But, Wilshere was undoubtedly man of the match again – the guy really is a different class and I can only hope Kroenke and Wenger fuck off long before he does and a new man makes him the eventual captain and builds a team around him worthy of the name

    The main front men were absolutely pathetic however. Walcott looked like the player of two years ago – all pace and no composure, poor timing of his runs etc, but another comedy gold star goes to that utterly useless carthorse he was playing alongside again. Honestly, Le Chapman is an absolute excuse of a centre forward. When he connects with a cross his ’50 pence head’ often results in the attempt at goal looking more like a clearance, whilst that one shot he had in the first half served only to warm up the photographers to the side of the goal. Worst of all is this mythical high work rate – what a fucking joke that is. In the first half in particular he loped around, arched back looking skywards after every poor touch (of which there were many) – if you want to see hard work look at Wilshere and Gibbs. Every time he gets a chance its blasted or shanked wide or straight at the keeper. The only thing he does OK is win a few flick ons and holds off defenders well enough with back to goal before rolling a simple 3 yard pass to a teammate – well Jason Roberts, Kevin Davies and Bobby Zamora can all do that and I wouldn’t expect to part with €14m for any of them. Honestly, people think I’m harsh on the bloke but he is never going to have the pace, technique or finishing ability to be anything more than our very own modern day Chapman.

    But we’re still in the cup – the one that matters

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Giroud did well I thought. He is better in that central role distributing than Walcott.

      Walcott looks every bit as lethal out wide and should frankly stay as a wide man. Should have buried a number of chances. But the speed he presents us out wide coming in is so useful.

      I think there’s too much made of him having to play middle or wide or if we should go 4-4-2.

      Frankly, the current 4-3-3 is fine.

      If Walcott comes in from RW, Podolski should push into the box to add the extra body with Giroud. Ditto the other way round.

      The shape we put up against the Swans was very good with Diaby and Coquelin holding discipline. In defense, we dropped the wingers and held a tight 4-5-1. Work rate and the fact that we pushed them high worked to our favour, creating less pressure for the back 4 and forcing mistakes. In general, this should be the way we play as it suits this team best.

      Only thing I would consider is another striker who has more speed than Giroud as an alternative. That’s where I believe the search is at the moment.

  9. Vote -1 Vote +1jefffulham

    Good effort in the end and thankfully we got the goal that we all thought would never come. The first half was pretty mediocre as first halves often are ( e.g Montpellier), but we did deserve the win ultimately as Laudrup acknowledged. Jack was brilliant, but I also thought Coquelin played well and put some great tackles in. I’d prefer to start with him on Sunday, but I bet Ramsey does, which I think will be a mistake. Wenger is always too cautious against the big boys and Ramsey is much better as a sub than starter at present. I have my doubts though- remember the Wembley FA Cup semi-final in 2009 against Chelski- dropping Song and Nasri for Denilson and Diaby and leaving out Arshavin, who was playing brilliantly at the time? I have a feeling that that thug Terry will be restored to the line-up on Sunday and much as I despise the oaf, he gives them impetus and far greater solidity. Chelsea have recently lost at home to QPR and Swansea and drawn against the Saints- come on Wenger don’t be your usual timid self and go for the draw – it will backfire.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    Jack Wilshere bleeds Arsenal red and white.

    (No comparison to Ramsey Tim…although I do think the young Welshman is performing better from a central position)

    His work rate/combative strength is first class and the way he carries the ball really adds the extra dynamism we need. Particularly higher up the pitch which is where I think we will get maximum results from him.

    But the surprising thing for me was how well the pair of Coquelin and Diaby handled the game.

    Diaby’s strength will be crucial for us, his defensive screening mostly very tidy. Coquelin is a very clever player with excellent technique. You feel there is a superb player in the making. He should have honestly been played much more early in season for maximum exposure. The passing is still patchy but once he finds his range, we may have another superb midfielder on our hands.

    I think the issue is still bearing on Diaby’s injury record whether it is at all wise to risk it. Wenger to my mind is considering as well, the age factor with regards Arteta.

    Thereby an addition in the deep midfield area will have to factor in 3 things :

    1) Diaby fitness
    2) Coquelin as a possible Arteta successor in 1-2 seasons
    3) Jack being pushed further forward

    Therein, whoever comes in may have to replicate the physical factor Diaby provides (particularly IMO height) and/or Arteta’s passing ability.

    Not easy. Capoue is a possibility and to me a safe choice for us because he can provide cover for Diaby. Difficult decision in balance though.

Comments are closed.