Arsenal were poor in the first half, save for flashes of brilliance, but a lucky chance followed by a rally give them the points. Sead Kolasinac bagged a goal and an assist before going off with a knock, and Alexis Sanchez was his typical, fantastic self.
The wing-back’s goal came about from a very fortunate bounce, leaving the ball at the Bosnian’s feet, but the assist was pure class. While it was not a complete, 90-minute performance, the Gunners keep their good play going.
Keep reading for the full match review for Arsenal 2-1 Swansea.
Another Slow Start
Just like on Sunday against Everton, the Gunners conceded the first goal today. Also typical of this season was the fact that the team’s passing was sluggish for most (if not all) of the first 45.
There were some individual moments in that first half when players showed character, however. Per Mertesacker and Sead Kolasinac both had tackles called foul not long after Clucas opened the scoring.
Then there was Alexandre Lacazette who did well to close down defenders and put them under pressure. But, and that is a big but, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the starting XI, one would expect the distribution to be nothing short of deadly.
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Instead, Arsenal could only cycle the ball from right to left and back again, over and over, for almost all of the opening 45 minutes. Even when the team did get near to the Swansea area, the Welsh side usually dealt with the pressure well, and conceded only corners, which we all know is a weak point in the Gunners‘ game.
Probably the best chance our boys had was the Alexis rocket of a shot which was, more or less, directed right at Fabianski. The Pole still had to be strong to make the save, however Arsenal really should be making the visiting keeper sweat during the first half.
On top of the slow attacking start, the defense wasn’t really impressive either. Mertesacker’s stumble near the halftime whistle almost added a second goal to the Swan’s goal haul.
The hulking German looked vulnerable on the break, as did the back three as a whole. Both Koscielny and Monreal should have done better to drop back and help cover their captain against the speedy Abraham.
The goal was well taken by Clucas, and certainly Laurent Koscielny got caught out of position, but it was also strange to see Bellerin so surprised by the winger’s run. The Spaniard’s speed means he doesn’t need to play his mark offsides, but he was too far away from his own goal.
The little wing-back shouldn’t ever get beaten due to the fact he is so fast.
A Bit Lucky
Arsenal came out and played better after the half, no doubt gaining motivation from the scoreline. They still weren’t as incisive as they needed, as the team kept giving the ball away. In fact, neither team looked like they wanted the ball for the first five or so minutes after the restart.
The Gunners kept getting the ball into the final third, but the final move eluded them. It took a fortunate deflection to fall at the feet of Kolasinac in order for the team to level the match.
Of course, the team then followed that strike up by allowing a dangerous move in their own box. If it weren’t for the linesman doing his job, they would have been behind again!
Alexis almost bagged an assist, again he is the team’s best player when on the pitch, but the fast free kick that tricked Swansea also tricked Koscielny. The Frenchman didn’t get anything on his free header, meaning both sides missed good chances in quick succession.
The deadly final pass finally came, this time through great combination play and good movement off the box. Ozil found Xhaka who was able to chip a beautiful long ball to Kolasinac on the left, who played a perfect low cross into the box.
Aaron Ramsey really couldn’t miss from six yards out, and his advanced position created a goal and a lead for the Gunners.
From there, the team was able to create a plethora of chances as their visitors opened up to get one back, as well as feel fatigue in their legs. Notable chances came from Lacazette, Bellerin and Ozil, not to mention Alexis.
Some times it’s better to be lucky than good.
Work to be Done
The first 45 was mostly forgettable, but the game is made of two halves. The team has yet to lose at home, but a few of the victories have been nail-biters, finishing with a margin of only one goal, and often that goal has come late.
Today, just like in previous fixtures, the team was vulnerable on the break, and, just like against Everton, Arsenal gave up an early goal. Reeling in Aaron Ramsey to give both Xhaka and the back three cover would aid the defense, as would a traditional defensive midfielder.
However, as not only is it not a transfer window but Wenger would also never buy such a player, we probably won’t ever see that happen. So long as the team can rally (having Lacazette/Ozil/Alexis up front certainly helps) this frailty may not relegate them back to the Europa League (or worse!) next season, but then again a rally is never guaranteed.
Three points is the most important thing, but if the team continues to need a bit of luck to win, getting the points week in and week out is not guaranteed.