Monday, 12 September 2011

Nervy display produces the points

Arsenal did the minimum that was required of them on Saturday and came away from the Swansea game with three points, thanks to a 1–0 win from a very fortuitous goal. It was by no means a convincing performance but few fans were realistically expecting a goal-fest. Swansea’s Michel Vorm, who up to now has looked a decent keeper, dropped a clanger five minutes before half-time, onto which Arshavin duly pounced. The trademark tongue came out, and the Russian deserves credit for showing the awareness to pick up the ball and finish what was a straightforward if unexpected opportunity from a fairly acute angle. Andrey was actually one of the better players on the pitch, and along with Arteta provided the Gunners’ only consistent attacking threat. New signing Mertesacker played reasonably well, putting in a debut performance that was more convincing than his partner Koscielny’s at centre-half. Wojciech Sczczesny played superbly in goal, somehow keeping a clean sheet – for which, I suppose, the back line all deserve some credit.

Van Persie was lively but isolated up front, and hit the post, Frimpong and Ramsey played solidly without dominating the midfield, and the absences of Gervinho and Song were both conspicuous. Walcott blew hot and cold, often straying wide without looking as though he had much of an idea what he was going to do with the ball. When he did cut into the box on a couple of occasions he looked more dangerous, and one effort indirectly contributed to the goal – it was his deflected shot that had Vorm scrambling along the touchline to prevent the corner. Benayoun did not really get the chance to show what he can do, coming on after 62 minutes, and we are yet to see Park or Santos in action. Chamakh, who has been singularly ineffectual as an impact sub on virtually every occasion he’s been called on, actually helped to relieve the pressure on the Gunners in the last ten minutes by causing the Swans’ defence some problems. A good headed chance went wide, but it was a glimpse of the player who looked so promising at the start of his Arsenal career back in 2010.

Again a deathly hush descended on the Emirates throughout most of the ninety minutes, broken only by a few squeaky bums in the second half and the lusty chants of Swansea’s Welsh fans. Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson even remarked wryly that ‘if it wasn’t for the Swansea supporters it’d be quieter than Islington Library in here…’ A harsh but probably fair assessment, which is frankly embarrassing. Admittedly, the team’s fairly insipid performance did little to inspire much in the way of singing, but the funereal atmosphere will not help our home form and probably contributed to the nervy display that we saw on the pitch. Perhaps a lot of the Emirates 'spectators' (how many are fans?) don’t know the words to Arsenal chants. Maybe someone should produce a Gooners songbook…

A laboured 1–0 win over a Swansea team that has still not yet managed a goal in the Premier League does not contrast well with other results over the weekend, namely those of the two Manchester clubs, United taking apart Bolton and City doing the same to Wigan, with hat-tricks from Rooney and Aguero respectively. However, as the old adage goes, three points is three points, and the win elevated Arsenal to the dizzying heights of 11th place in the table. They will, however, need to play considerably better to have any chance of getting a good result against Borussia Dortmund in Germany on Tuesday night.

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What do you think, Gooners?