Few things to get off the chest ahead of Arsenal’s visit to the Liberty Stadium tonight, to play Swansea.
3 points at Stade Velodrome
Not the most vintage Arsenal performance. Gave the ball away a lot (intentionally or otherwise, open for debate). Despite that, still defended as well as we could. The most important of wins as any away win in this tough Champions League will be a huge advantage comes end of the group stage.
There’s winning and there’s taking the piss while winning. We certainly did the latter as 3 set piece goals sent Stoke packing. I can’t remember a bigger piss-take in recent football memory. It’s wonderful to see that we are able to mix it up when required and are able to find other avenues to goal when the normal slick passing route doesn’t work.
Return of the samurai
Ok, it’s Nicklas Bendtner but we got to admit the similarity there. Only went through on penalties and given the options we put out in attacking positions, it was no surprise to find that we were lacking creativity up front. May just be a League Cup third round but to the youngsters in their first penalty shoot-out for the senior squad, it’s still a daunting experience. Took plenty of guts to step up, let alone convert those penalties.
Best Wales player, going to Wales
Aaron Ramsey will return to Wales for the match against Swansea as the best player in the Arsenal squad at the moment. It’s hard not to be incredibly proud of the young midfielder who has fought through numerous barriers to be where he is today. On form, he could very well be the best player in the world right now but that is only temporary. For him to really establish himself, he knows he has to produce this high level of performance throughout the entire season. At the moment he has made himself indispensable and would surely start tonight.
Laudrup’s men are a serious threat
While we are undoubtedly the team in form, Swansea away is not the easiest of ties, no matter the form. Michael Laudrup has whipped up a good concoction for his team and looks to be an improved version of Brendan Roger’s former side. Three main threats for me, Michu – Wilfried Bony – Jonathan De Guzman. Michu likes to roam (no, not that type) and between Flamini/Arteta and the centre backs, someone has to give the orders on who to pick him up. De Guzman pops up in good positions just outside the penalty box and his battle with Ramsey, will be a good contest.
Stopping the Serge Forward
Given the Serge Gnabry played the full 120 minutes at the Hawthorns, it is unlikely that he will start tonight. If I’m a betting man (which I am), I’ll have my money on Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta starting together which will mean that Mesut Ozil goes to wide right to fill in for the injured Theo Walcott. Maybe that’s why pictures of Robert Pires training with Ozil have emerged (only kidding). My other thought was the Ignacio Monreal to come in on the left but he also played the full 120 minutes in midweek.
Continuing the momentum
Napoli at home next week is crucial to our hopes of advancing past the group stage of the CL but today’s fixture cannot be underestimated. We’re on a good run of form and we need to continue that run. Only by continuously winning, can the team believe in their talents and create that insatiable hunger to keep hunting down more victories. More than most, a win tonight will keep us on top of the league for another whole week. I’m sure we all want that.
Up The Arsenal!