In the end, they did it. After 38 games and a...
A win is a win
Sometimes its not the matter of how you won, just that you won. For Arsenal that much holds true to yesterday’s win over EPL debutantes Swansea. My initial reaction to the match was one of frustration. But I’ve watched the match twice now and my reaction is one of – well, Rome wasn’t built in a day wasn’t it?
I thought the score line flattered the visitors. If not for Ramsey’s lack of a scoring touch, Theo’s being Theo and Robin Van Persie finding the woodwork, the match would’ve been a rout. But as is typical Arsenal fashion we squandered our chances. Sure enough, Swansea has had their chances and they were very unlucky not to have drawn even in stoppage time. But as it is, sometimes that is how it goes. Much like missed chances. As I mentioned in the pre-match, Swansea are a good defencive team. Prior to this match they held two clean sheets and if not for defencive lapses that opened the flood gates for City, they could’ve held for a draw there. They’ve played their opponents tough and are rather unlucky to only have 2 points.
Overall I thought our new guys did well. I thought Arteta did his role well. He had quite a few passes that set players on their way. It’s hard to tell with one game but one thing I noticed, his passes weren’t attempts to provide the perfect or prettiest pass, he merely wanted to get the ball to the player. As skilled as Fabregas was he too often went for the most perfect pass as did a lot of his teammates much to the detriment of the team. Hopefully, Arteta sticks to that and doesn’t go all hollywood on us. Moyes said Arteta likes his touches and he 103 of them with a pass success rate of 92% (71 successful vs 9 unsuccessful). Still, he is going to need to develop more with the squad and three days together isn’t much time to build chemsitry.
One thing I’d also like to focus on is this concept that Arteta is a “poor man’s Fabregas.” I think statements like this and comparisons to Fabregas are unfair to Arteta’s ability and what he can bring to the team. Cesc Fabregas is a talent that comes along rarely and a lot of players wish they were. Arteta is of the same style from La Maisa but is not the same player. If all we are going to do is compare Arteta to Fabregas than Arteta will never get a fair shake and we should judge him on his own achievements not compared to someone who is a rated special player. Arteta should be given the time to develop into his role and make it his own.
For Per Mertesacker it was a quiet day. Except for the early chance Swansea had, he wasn’t really tested but he showed a solid work effort. The real work horse in the defence was Koscielny who like I said in the pre-match is growing in every match. He also showed some speed and willingness to go forward when it was warranted. There was one bad tackled where he did the fine European finger wag but overall his performance was another solid one. I really do believe if Vermaelen comes back healthy and strong (yes, I know this is a big ask) that Vermaelen and Koscileny are going to be a very solid tandem. Yeah, its just my opinion but hey its my blog and I will think what I want to so there.
The big question marks for me are still Ramsey and Walcott. Ramsey has not in 4 matches shown himself to be capable to an effective player for the team. His passes are sideways and backwards . Very few of his passes were in the middle of the box or in a vain that would set a player free. Ramsey in my opinion is going to be a star but unlike Jack Wilshere isn’t going to be one who blossoms early. He likely would benefit from a stint on the bench coming on as sub. In my perfect world we would rotate Arshavin to the midfield alongside Arteta (until Jack comes back). Ramsey gasses easily as was evident on the opportunity for a 4 on 1 where lobbed a pass right to the only defender there. It certainly looked like his legs had left him at that point but still all he had to do was loft the ball to the far side. It was frustrating to say the least.
Walcott still is well Walcott. Lots of speed but very little end product. Thats all there really is to say about Theo. Szczesny is slowly showing me that he is going to wind up being the best Arsenal goal keeper in a long long while. He is so confident it can be a little worrisome at times. Frimpong is still maturing but he is strong in the middle and will be good a pushing Alex Song who has gotten complacent in the middle of the pitch. Frimpong isn’t ready to be an every day starter but he is slowly making the case to get more reps. He is good going forward with the ball when he does. But he is sound defenceively except for his youthful exuberance. Arshavin has a huge part to play with this squad both with his feet and as a leader. His goal while a gift was from such an awakward angle I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had missed it. It can bring that kind of skill. There are still moments of frustration with Andrei. But like I said there is a role to play.
One of things I wanted to touch on though was something I was picking up away from play and at “stoppages.” We’ve all lamented leadership on the pitch and players being held accountable after cock-ups. I saw a lot of little acts of leadership on the pitch by both Robin Van Persie and Arshavin. Things I hadn’t seen enough of in previous matches. Van Persie made sure to give Theo an earful in the second half when he got petulant around his yellow card. Going off the pitch Arshavin was making a point to Frimpong about movement off the ball and the teams formation. If these things have happened before in recent memory I’ve not seen them. While there is still a long way to go in that front but at least this is a promising sign.
We shouldn’t kid ourselves though, there is still a long way to go. I am still convinced that this team is not going to compete for the league title. I may be an optimist but I am more of a realist. This team will compete for a top 4 spot but both Manchester Clubs right now are a class above everyone else. Sure they will have issues. All teams do. But I am still of the opinion we’re still short of the type of players I think we need to be title contenders. All in all though, it was nice to get back to winning. Let’s see if the club can build upon this and progress week upon week.
Koscielny: 9 MOTM
Van Persie: 7
Chamakh: NA (though he had a really good header off of a Gibbs cross)
Until the mid week. Stay Goonerish!!!