Inserting a “Nacho” related pun would be the first thing on the bloggers and headline writers mind today. You will not find any of that sort from me. The reason is simple, I couldn’t think of any and I don’t want to make a fool of myself with a lame pun. We all love a good pun and I love a pun(t) even more. 2-0 was the result I was searching and so it arrived.
At this stage of the season, the manner in which any victory comes is of little importance. If we had played badly but still win via a deflected goal off someone’s nose, I would still gladly take all 3 points. Yesterday’s performance could be filed under the gritty determined stuff and doing the minimal necessary to win. A lacklustre first half punctuated by two Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain strikes which hit the post, followed by an impressive second half showing to come away with a win.
For the second game running, neither Thomas Vermaelen nor Wojciech Szczesny stepped onto the pitch. Laurent Koscielny and Lukasz Fabianski maintained their place in the starting line-up. It was good to see Arsene Wenger taking a harder line with the players who are not performing. The time to be the “good cop” to them is over. These players have matured and experienced enough to realise that they deserved to be dropped.
The second consecutive clean sheet and the way Fabianski is protected, does vindicate Wenger’s decision. Though, had the protection been better in front of him, Szczesny might not have been made to look poor. A lot of what ifs but unfortunately, that’s the way things go. We limit Swansea to shooting from distance and apart from one wonderful Michu turn inside the box, we defended really well.
Defending and keeping possession were separate entities for yesterday though. Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla apart, the rest of the front 6 were having a woeful time. Possession were surrendered meekly. Olivier Giroud might be having a poor period of his short career thus far with us but will certainly be persisted because there are no options beyond him.
However, as for Theo Walcott, the scenario is slightly more different. This was another poor outing from him and has looked anonymous in recent games. Sure, fine. He turned up for one minute when he provided the cross cum shot that enabled Giroud to score in Munich. I would certainly put it down to a different sort of pressure/expectation that he is putting on himself pre/post contract signing.
Our midfield were just not functioning and it is epitomised by none other than Abou Diaby. I love Diaby and want nothing more than to see him fulfil his potential. However, match by match, that hope is looking increasingly hopeless. Yesterday, we saw some of his driving runs but his indecisions when he gets to a dangerous position is frustrating. That always allows the home team to get back and regroup. Big question would have to be asked of Diaby in the summer.
We were heading towards a draw and a change was needed. Two were introduced with 20 minutes left on the clock and they proved to be the decisive substitutions. Aaron Ramsey for the ineffective Diaby and Gervinho for the post man, Ox. At this point, it is probably fair to say that Ox did have a better game than Walcott. Suddenly we were playing at a faster pace and Ramsey’s willingness to push forward and high pressing, meant that we were able to win possession quickly and put Swansea under pressure.
Ignacio Monreal managed to scramble the ball past Michel Vorm through a sea of bodies before Gervinho put the match beyond doubt with a last minute goal. We deserve to win because the team didn’t give up. You could sense that we wanted it more and Swansea were…..thinking about their holidays. Gervinho has looked decent in his last two substitute appearances. I’m reluctant to say that he’s starting to look like the player we signed from Lille. I’ll be happy if he continues to come off the bench and provide us with good option.
The win was vital and that it came at the Liberty Stadium is a strong signal sent out to our rivals for the Champions League spot. We’re now only 4 points off Tottenham and we have continue to keep this pressure up. Reading, WBA and Norwich in our next 3 fixtures. Good win but the job is not done yet.