ARSENAL 3-SWANSEA 2 : Gunners make hard work of Swansea as Wenger’s Men go Joint Top with Mancity
International break over, and Arsenal were looking to kick off from where they left off in the Premier league. If there’s anything Arsenal learnt or should have learnt from Last season’s unlikely EPL win by Leicester is to do anything to sustain a winning run, bag as many points as possible.
The gunners are now unbeaten in their last 7games in the Premiership, and with this 6th consecutive win vs Swansea, the Londoners appear ready to take control of the season and Maintain their momentum
Mesut Ozil the king of the assists brought his killer finishing out into the open with a strike of sublime ferocity that took Arsenal level on points at the top of the Premier League.
It was Ozil’s birthday on Saturday. 28 years of age & it is one of the many privileges of English football to be able to see him play every week. His goal against Swansea City, Arsenal’s third, won the match and was as sweet a hit as you are likely to see.
Amid all the frustrations that has come with being a Gunner these last ten years, all the fretting about the failure to win the league and the worries that Wenger is no longer the force he was, there have always been rich compensations. Ozil is one of those. The title may not have been seen here for a while but when you get to watch a left-foot like that, it takes away some of the pain.
Only some of it, of course…unbeaten since the opening weekend of the season but they still managed to look desperately vulnerable in victory. They have become a club with a gift for making things fraught and this win against a Swansea team they pushed into the bottom three was no different.
‘It should have been a comfortable afternoon,’ Wenger said, ‘but it ended in an uncomfortable way. We just got over the line. We played some fantastic football but at 2-0 up, we lost our focus. We could have scored a fourth but we could have conceded, too.’ partly, that was because after they had twice established a two-goal cushion, the midfielder Granit Xhaka got himself sent off midway through the second half for a foul on Swansea’s flying winger, Modou Barrow, who had tormented the Arsenal defence all afternoon.
Xhaka’s tackle was not dangerous, nor did it prevent a goalscoring opportunity. But it was desperately cynical and even though it should only have been a yellow, there was little sympathy for him when he was shown a straight red. Wenger said he would not appeal the decision. ‘I thought it was dark yellow,’ Wenger said. ‘The referee thought light red.’
Maybe Wenger feels he can afford to be relaxed about Xhaka’s impending suspension. Arsenal may have been clinging on at the end of this match but there is still much for them to be optimistic about. They have options all over the pitch now, a fact underlined by two more goals from their in-form forward Theo Walcott.
Walcott may have struggled to fire for England in Slovenia last week but he was hardly alone in that and he was too hot for the Swansea defence to handle. He scored Arsenal’s opening two goals and should have had two more in the last five minutes. One of those chances hit the inside of a post, the other skimmed the crossbar. It is a fine sight to see him in full flow like this.
Defeat meant this was Swansea’s worst start to a Premier League season but there was plenty for their new manager, Bob Bradley, to be optimistic about. Barrow was the best player on the pitch. ‘We are just scratching the surface of his talent at the moment,’ Bradley said afterwards. Barrow might even have scored an equaliser late in the game as Swansea laid siege to the Arsenal goal.
In the early stages of the game, you wouldn’t have predicted an end to the game of this kind. It was becalmed when, with 17 minutes to go to half time, Arsenal broke the deadlock. Sanchez looped a ball out to the right side of the box to Bellerin and he leapt to head the ball across goal, where Walcott had made a run to the near post.
Swansea appeared to have thwarted the danger when Amat got ahead of Walcott but the England forward muscled him out of the way and squeezed his shot past Fabianski from close range. It was a poor goal for Swansea to concede. Both Amat and Fabianski should have done better.
The goal released Arsenal. Sanchez nearly scored a minute later with a lob that left Fabianski stranded but sailed just wide. Bellerin went close when he ran on to an Ozil through ball and lifted the ball over Fabianski but the keeper’s leg deflected it just wide.
Then, inevitably, Arsenal went further ahead courtesy of more abject Swansea defending. Fernandez failed to clear when he flung himself at a corner from the right, the ball bounced off Sigurdsson’s heel and when it fell to Walcott, he swivelled and swept it past Fabianski.
Just when it looked as if Arsenal were going to sweep Swansea aside, they grew complacent. Passing the ball around at the back, Xhaka tried to beat Sigurdsson on the edge of the Arsenal box and was promptly dispossessed. Sigurdsson advanced a couple of yards and curled a sweetly struck left-foot shot beyond Cech.
On the brink of the interval, Swansea almost forced their way back to level terms. Amat, seeking redemption for his errors, raced on to an inswinging free kick and headed the ball down and goalwards. But Amat could not direct the ball close enough to the corner and Cech was able to beat it away. Arsenal were grateful for the half-time whistle.
Arsenal re-established their superiority after the break and Walcott should have sealed his hat-trick when Ozil headed the ball across goal to him and he directed his volley too close to Fabianski.
A couple of minutes later, Ozil took a break from assists and scored one himself. Sanchez curled a cross in from the right, Ozil took care to stay onside, waited for the ball to drop and then crashed a left-foot volley past Fabianski from close range. textbook stuff..The the connection and timing of the ball on that goal was simply gorgeous
Arsenal seemed determined not to make it simple, though. A few minutes later, some appalling defending allowed Swansea back in the game. Barrow, who had been a constant threat with his pace seemed to have run down a blind alley when he was marshalled to the edge of the Arsenal box. But when he slid the ball across goal, substitute Baston found himself in yards of space and drove his shot past Cech.
Things got worse for Arsenal almost straight away. Barrow turned away from Xhaka on the half way line and set off down the touchline. Xhaka lunged at him from behind and brought him down. Referee Jon Moss showed him a straight red card.
The atmosphere inside The Emirates grew tense. Wenger likened the negativity of some supporters to a virus last week and suddenly, Arsenal looked sick.
Swansea were emboldened. With quarter of an hour to go, they missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise. Barrow ran on to a floated cross from the left and found himself unmarked six yards out. With the goal gaping, he could only direct his free header straight at Cech. On the sideline, Bradley held his head in his hands.
He had reason to do it again a few minutes later. Barrow, who had tormented Monreal, beat him on the outside again and played a perfect cross into the Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson met it without breaking his stride 12 yards out but lifted his shot over the crossbar.
As Swansea pressed more and more, they left gaps at the back and Walcott should have put the game out of reach five minutes from time when he was clean through. His shot beat Fabianski’s dive but cannoned back off the post and Swansea resumed their siege.
But they could not force an equaliser and Walcott twice missed chances to put the game out of reach. Arsenal’s fans, both infected and virus-free, suffered to the end.