Call me crazy but the last thing I expected to see was Arsenal flying forward at 1-0 up in the pouring rain in South Wales. I thought Tuesday night would have stung the side and manager so badly that the last thing they would have wanted to do was repeat that. Yet on 73 minutes Arsenal were caught pushing forward for a second goal, Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini were both ahead of the ball before it was lost. substitute Barrow burst through the middle on his way towards our two centre backs, similar to what happened at Dortmund but for Kieran Gibbs taking one for the team and hauling the speedy attacker down. Swansea hadn't scored from a freekick this season. Until Sigurdsson curled an absolute peach into the top corner of Szczesny's goal.
Unless we have a team of goldfish, I wonder what the players feel about being caught out twice in the same manner in a matter of days. At a goal up I'd imagine that keeping our shape, making us hard to break down and then using the pace we had in Alexis, Chamberlain and Welbeck. That's even before Theo Walcott comes onto the pitch. Why are we risking being caught after we have fought so hard to get ahead in the first place? Arsène Wenger said in his recent interview that he would have been slaughtered for sitting off at 3-0 and getting punished and yes he has a point but surely it is more difficult to concede when you attempt to protect a lead rather than invite the opposition who are desperately looking for a goal, to exploit huge spaces that you have charitably left behind.
Three minutes later substitute Gomis who had just ambled onto the pitch beat Monreal in the air to head in Montero's cross. Calum Chambers is a very talented 19 year old and he has done more than can be expected of him so far so criticism of him is unfair. However criticism needs to find it's way to somebody because it was clear from very early on that Montero had the beating of him and it happened time and time again.
Did Arsène not instruct one of his players to drop back and double team Montero? Did Arsène leave it to his players to figure out the problem? Why didn't any of the players take it upon themselves to see the problems the Swansea wide man was causing and help the 19 year old? I suspect multiple fingers can be pointed.
The baffling part of it all was that we started the game in a conservative manner. We had the Anderlecht game on our minds and played a cautious first half which unlike many, I thought was the right thing to do. Neither team committed many players to attack and the first half played out like a chess match. No problems with that, clean sheet with firepower both on the pitch and on the bench.
Just before half time Welbeck had a great chance to put us ahead after some sublime one touch football around the box. Welbeck tried to side foot into the near post but it was too close to Fabianski. Welbeck really should have driven the ball across our former keeper into the far side. But the combinations to create the chance just shows what this team is capable of, I imagine it is what Arsène wants to see far more often but we've seen very little of this so far this season. Sanchez > Welbeck > Chamberlain > Welbeck all at top speed.
On 64 we witnessed another glimpse of what this 2014/15 side is capable of. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who found plenty of joy running at the Swansea team drove into the Swansea half, Cazorla picked up the ball and slid in Welbeck who turned his man and rolled the ball across to Alexis to tap in from close range. Such an Arsène Wenger team goal, working the ball until a high quality opportunity presents itself. The trouble is, it is very difficult to play this way when you are unsure of yourself and currently, this Arsenal team look unsure of themselves.
So given the recent capitulation I don't know why we left ourselves with Monreal and Mertesacker back peddling with a Swansea attacker sprinting towards them.
This is an image of the play before Gibbs takes down Barrow for the freekick goal. Aaron Ramsey lost the ball trying to dribble past his man. If we must have both full backs up the pitch then why is Mathieu Flamini taking up the position of playmaker-in-chief?
After Swansea took the lead there was no chance of them doing an Arsenal and pushing for a third so we were met with a wall of white shirts and chances were unsurprisingly hard to come by.
Now we face the prospect of rolling around in this result over the fun international break, oh goody. Hopefully all involved will take a long hard look at themselves.
Listen, I'm pissed off. Very frustrated, not because we are shite or a lost cause. Quite the opposite in fact. I want to reinforce that this squad basically minus Alexis and Welbeck spent most of last season at the top of the league and then went on to beat Tottenham, Liverpool and Everton to win the FA Cup. Anger seems to make people forget about these minor points but that fact remains. We have a squad (partly broken by injury) full of quality. Yes we lack defensive numbers but nobody will convince me that if the back four including Monreal was protected properly by the team in front of him that we wouldn't be all high fiving each other for picking up a hard fought three points.
Monreal was fantastic until beaten in the air for the goal, similar to how you know, the conventional centre back Mertesacker was beaten against Hull in the air. It happens to centre backs also. Monreal has turned into somewhat of a scapegoat because we did not buy a centre back but penalty mistake in midweek aside he has hardly put a foot wrong in my eyes. The back four as makeshift as it is, is a secondary problem to the defensive structure of the team.
Arsène has been getting the best out of his players for years, so far it simply isn't happening. While we cannot win the title, I am not losing hope of these players not putting it together. There is simply too much quality for this to last forever.
Whether Arsène is managing the players to correct this or they are managing themselves under his watchful eye, something has to change for the better and fast because valuable points are being poured down the drain for no good reason.
'till the next time.
PS - For further reading check out last nights Q&A