Match Preview: Arsenal v Swansea City; A Swift Kick Up The Arse Needed
Let’s just be frank shall we – today is a must win day. After the last few months of absolutely abject football, Arsenal need to jump start their season or any work they’ve done will be fruitless.
It still is a hard slog for the title. Losing to United on Sunday really put a crimp in the title tilt Yes, they only sit 6 points behind Leicester. Win today and it’s cut down to 3. So it seems a little ridiculous to say the title run is over. However, if we are realistic in our view then Arsenal have shown no sort of tenacity or desire to actually go out and win the title when it has been there for the taking.
You can find a myriad of reasons why we haven’t taken our chances. Lack of scoring, poor roster decisions, lax defending, poor passing – the list goes on and on. The fact is there isn’t a part of this team that is working right at the moment. You keep wondering – when does our late season run start? It’s usually about this time of year but the fact is you would’ve thought the win against Leicester would’ve kick started that and it hasn’t.
Arsenal need to come out tonight and absolutely take the game by the throat. They need to make a statement not just to the supporters but to themselves. Outside of a scarce few of the players not one has really shown the quality that we expect – or deserve. Wenger also has to be daring with his lineup.
On Sunday he benched Per Mertesacker and cast off Mathieu Flamini. This was done it is collectively thought for their parts in Arsenal’s “naivety” against Barcelona. Well, he may have picked the wrong players. Frankly, Theo and Ramsey are candidates that should be considered for the bench.
We’ve all seen the travails of Theo Walcott lately and his performance against United may have been the last straw in killing of any good will that may have existed towards him. But should Aaron Ramsey escape similar scorn?
Arsenal need him to act as the transition from the back 4 to the attack. He simply isn’t doing that and it’s forcing players like Sanchez and Özil to come back deep for the ball when they need to be forward driving the attack.
My initial thoughts are Wenger could bring in Elneny alongside Coquelin, shunt Ramsey out wide right and move Danny up top or keep Giroud there. Elneny as Arseblog point out post-United, was the only player who actually was looking for the ball. That’s needed, especially from deep. We don’t have it and it’s because Ramsey isn’t there to do it and it’s not Coquelin’s role or strong suit.
So today Wenger has to be bold and either bench him or push Ramsey back out to the right. However, as you look at our projected lineup below, we believe he’ll stick to his preferred way and keep him alongside Coquelin.
This match is a must win. We can ill afford to go into the North London Derby with the malaise that has taken over the club at all levels. We need to win because we all know Leicester dropped points and Tottenham have a rough tie as they travel to West Ham. A draw simply does not work for Arsenal tonight. They have to win.
A Quick Note:
Normally I’d try and dissect how I think the match is going to play out. I’m going to be honest – I have no freaking idea. It’s so hard with this team. The talent is purely there – the effort isn’t.
There was a lot of vitriol spouted on social media in the wake of the United loss. The frustration is warranted. But the manner in which it is conducted and thrown about on Social Media is not.
I think everyone agrees we are under performing. People still disagree on why we are under performing and that’s okay. What’s not is attacking someone or disrespecting people for having an opinion that differs from yours.
I never get behind the “just support the club” argument because I’ve always felt it dismisses people’s frustration. However, I saw a tweet yesterday and I believe it – at this moment – we need to support our club. (There I said it.) There will be plenty of time to dissect the season and gripe about the reasons for our poor performances. The team needs to know that the fans can still urge them on and tonight has to be that occasion as does every night for the remainder of the season.
I’ve done my little rah-rah routine.
I’ll enjoy watching the match – I always do.
Up the Arsenal
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Cazorla (ankle), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Rosicky (thigh), Wilshere (calf)
The Manager’s Take (courtesy Arsenal.com)
“We have a target – it’s about how we can maintain that focus on this target and how we can recover from disappointments and how we can maintain our solidarity and our desire to play as a team,”
“We have beaten Leicester, we lost 3-2 at Manchester United. Yes, we are disappointed, but that can happen. It’s how we recover from that.
“Let’s be positive. I believe that this team has shown a lot of great mental strength through the whole season. We have as well not to go overboard and panic. Let’s focus on what we want to do.
“Every Premier League game is difficult for everybody. What we have learnt during the season is that everybody drops points and how you maintain your focus and your togetherness will certainly be decisive at the end of the season.”
Referee: Robert Madley (18M, 51Y, 4R)
Assistant Referees: P Kirkup, S Burt
Fourth Official: A Woolmer
UK: Arsenal Player 19.45 GMT
US: NBC Sports Live Extra 2:45PM
Arsenal 2 – 1 Swansea
Match Facts: (Courtesy FourFourTwo.com via Opta)
- The nine Barclays Premier League matches between Arsenal and Swansea City have seen four wins apiece and one draw. Two of those wins for Swansea have come at the Emirates Stadium.
- Danny Welbeck has scored three goals in four Premier League games against Swansea.
- Just one of the last 26 goals scored in this fixture in all competitions has been netted in the first half.
- The Gunners have won eight and lost just one of their last 12 Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium.
- Arsenal have failed to score in four of their last six matches in all competitions at the Emirates Stadium.
- Only bottom of the league side Aston Villa (10.1%) have a lower shot conversion rate than Swansea City (11.1%) this season in the Premier League.
- Arsenal have lost their last two competitive matches – they haven’t lost three in a row in all comps since April 2010.
- Mesut Ozil has 18 assists this season in the Premier League; only Thierry Henry (20 in 2002-03) managed more in a single PL campaign.
- This is Swansea City’s worst tally of points in a Premier League season after 27 games (27).
- Bafetimbi Gomis scored the winning goal in both Premier League meetings with Arsenal last season from headers.