When I said to Peaches that I could do the report for this game I thought it would probably be a simple mission. How wrong could I be. As I started watching the game I originally thought that the best way to report it would be to recount the key incidences as they occurred. I soon realised that there were far too many key incidences to recount in chronological order without going into a prolonged report, so I decided to switch to a different mode of report that would look at the game as more of a general synopsis with some specifics when required..
Firstly can I say, that for me, that was a thoroughly entertaining and humdinger of a game that the narrow scoreline and lack of overall goals doesn’t really reflect. Swansea, as we have found out this season, can play great pass and move technical football. How dare they aspire to this, that is our domain! Once again they did, at certain times, exhibit their ability to pass and move through very tight spaces at a very good technical level in what we like to think is our style of play. This time, however, we elevated our performance levels so that we looked, once again, to be the masters of this style of football.
Early on in the game I thought we took hold of midfield with a combination of the power, pace, and possession that Diaby and Wilshere offer us. We had a few chances but didn’t convert. Always a worrying thing for us Gooners, as we have seen that very situation so many times. If I was to be critical of us in the first half it would be to say that while we got into dangerous positions with possession in the last third, that we didn’t look like we had that final cutting edge. It always seemed like the final critical pass missed the key player by ½ yard. Many would put that down to players not being of the required quality. Personally, at this point, I would still put a lot of it down to players still getting to understand each other and instinctively recognise the movements of their team-mates.
Swansea had a couple of dangerous moments in the first half, the most obvious being when our former player Kyle Bartley headed against the cross bar. We got away with it but always in those situations I ask, was it an attacking move that we could have done nothing about, or could it have been avoided? I am not sure, but I will leave that subject open to debate.
In the second half, for me, we moved onto another level. The level that, for me, we need to be adhering to if we are to achieve what we all want. The passing and movement seemed to step up a level and became faster, more aggressive, and with more players moving around for their team-mates. Santi Cazorla started to step up a gear and influence the game and was superb in the second half, and he is a class player that we are lucky to have. Even more than this though was the performance of a young Englishman that stood out a mile.
I actually don’t really know what to say about Jack Wilshere. On the one side I don’t want to hype him up too much and create unnecessary pressure, but on the other I feel that we potentially have the next best world class midfielder on our hands. For me he was immense tonight and showed his abilities in both the deeper midfield and offensive midfield roles. He seems to have the ability to play both roles equally effectively. I obviously have my own overall opinions on Jack, but where you see his long term role in midfield I would leave up to you AA’ers to debate.
On to the ratings :
Did what he needed to do effectively
A solid game. On occasions you worry about his lack of pace but he reads the game very well.
His on-field commitment, for me, cannot be criticised. He had a good game today and covered when required. He is excellent at the last ditch tackle.
After a few “dodgy” performances Mr. Reliable seems to be returning to form.
I am a fan of Gibbs and feel he is an excellent full-back. Injury permitting I feel we have a quality FB at our disposal here.
I like him. He had some good sections in the game but then seemed to disappear at times, but that is maybe to be expected with a younger player. I still feel that we maybe have another very good AW identified and nurtured player on our hands. I would wait longer before I make a full judgement on his ability as an Arsenal 1st team player.
He is still not fully up to scratch after an injury lay-off but even so there are times when you can see he brings a different quality to the team. Injury aside I am a big fan of his. He had bright spells in this game but seemed to, understandably, fade in his dynamism as the game went on.
Wilshere 9 and MOTM
As said above, I feel we have the real deal on our hands. His performance tonight was immense both in attack and defence.
Slightly quiet first half but in the second stepped up a gear and was, alongside Wilshere, one of the main reasons we started to control the attacking intent in the game.
I like Giroud but it didn’t quite come of for him today. Having said that I wouldn’t let him go and recognise on another day he could have easily had 2 goals. His link up ability, for me, overcomes the times when he is not scoring goals.
This is the controversial one. If I said I still feel there is a potential quality striker in him then many of you would pan me. You are maybe right, but I want to see Theo have more time in the advanced role before I make my final judgement. I remember that it took Thierry a while to become regularly lethal for us, and he needed an adjustment period to the strikers role before he started to catch fire, at about the same age as Walcott is now. Theo missed chances tonight but I would also argue that he got himself into good goal-scoring positions that most other players wouldn’t have been able to do.
When he plays in central areas, like today, he still seems a very decent player to me and was quietly effective when he came on. I still feel he has a potential long term future with us but we need more
Written by GoonerB