Sunday, January 15, 2012
Ten Thoughts on Swansea 3 Arsenal 2
* It's worth remembering that we started well. Arshavin, for all the criticism he's received today, threaded a lovely ball through to RvP who finished with aplomb. Funnily enough, the goal worried me slightly - scoring early can be a bit of a double-edged sword with a team that is struggling defensively as much as we are at present, as it encourages the opposing side to attack from an early stage. Maybe it's an indictment of the current team that my first thought was about how we were going to hold onto the lead, rather than whether we were going to run away with the game.
* Incidentally, that was Robin's 18th league goal of the season, thus equalling his best ever tally. That we're only half-way through January shows how important he has been for us this season.
* The penalty was very harsh. I didn't think it was a foul, but I can see why the ref gave the decision. But let's not blame our defeat on this, please. The ref didn't score the other two Swansea goals.
* I like Ramsey and I think he's a huge talent. But he has no competition for his place at the moment. Even if Wilshere's return doesn't solve everything, it's vital that we have quality in the rotation of our midfield spots. Ramsey didn't do enough to dominate the midfield today, and he was badly at fault for the second Swansea goal. He needs a rest.
* We missed Arteta hugely. His ability to dictate possession and tempo in midfield is crucial, and Benayoun just wasn't an adequate replacement, I'm afraid. Indeed, while I like Benayoun, I struggle to think about what his role is in the squad. Attacking midfielder? Central midfielder? He doesn't really do either position well enough to justify a start at the moment.
* I don't understand Theo Walcott. Sometimes he looks like a massive talent, like when he spanked home our second goal. Other times, he can barely control the ball. And he goes missing for huge sections of games. Personally, I think he is the archetypal impact sub. It's a testimony to our lack of attacking options that he has started so many games this year.
* Indeed, it's an indictment of the strength of the squad that a 34 year old and an 18 year old were expected to change the game for us. Unsurprisingly, neither did. We need more players in their prime - not prospects and ageing superstars. Speaking of which, Park yet again did not get on the pitch. Increasingly he looks like £3 million (plus wages) that we have completely wasted. Unacceptable.
* Szcz was at fault for the third goal - his positioning was terrible. Again, I like him and think he's a huge prospect, but he has cost us points in consecutive games with poor goalkeeping.
* As a whole, the game was eerily reminiscent of the 4-3 at Blackburn. We started well, but blew it through repeated defensive mistakes (made in both midfield and defence) and couldn't cobble things back together in the end. The third goal was particularly galling - to concede immediately after scoring is something you simply should not accept from a top-four side. As the SquidBoy on Twitter has pointed out, we've now thrown away wining positions in three of our last four games (Wolves, Fulham, Swansea). Worrying.
* Everything comes down to this, for me. The transfer window last summer was a catastrophe, which directly contributed to our awful start. We now have money in the bank, but we are making no signs that we'll spend it. If we finish fifth, in my opinion it is a self-inflicted wound caused by chronic mismanagement of our transfer strategy. And that is where we are heading, at present.
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