Saturday 10 September 2011

Three points - big relief

As I had predicted it was not a convincing win, but it was a tremendously important one and getting the full complement of points today means we can go about the process of rebuilding our brittle confidence after out atrocious start to the season. To their credit Swansea are a very tidy footballing side and will be tricky opponents for many other PL sides this season.

Arteta and Mertesacker started, the interesting selection was that Arshavin was given the nod and finally he was given a role that suited his game, he was given a license to roam and play more centrally. Frimpong got the nod over Coquelin.

It was always nervy, maybe a second goal would have settled us down a bit, unfortunately this never materialised. Still Arshavin's tidy left footed finish from an acute angle after the Swansea keeper Vorm's thrown out had ricocheted off his defender's heel was enough in the end. We huffed and puffed, missed some great chances and certainly shaded the game. Still Swansea will look back on some of their missed chances and feel they could have come away with a point.

Arshavin played well in his more central role, perhaps the days of seeing him dying on the left wing are now gone. RVP looked sharp but lacked support, his best effort hitting the outside of the post in the second half. Theo was hot and cold, unlucky not to score when his shot was cleared off the line in the first half, he seemed to run out of ideas in the second. Chamakh came on late and missed a cracking headed chance from an excellent Gibbs cross.

Defensively we did ok. Szczesny was commanding and solid, one great save early on of particular note. Sagna didn't look fully fit after his recent illness, Gibbs did ok given his lack of games overall the full backs could have done with a bit more help from the midfield. Mertesacker was the best of the back four for me, positionally solid, he get a foot or head involved at the vital moment, a promising debut. Kos was als

The midfield three did reasonably well too, Arteta worked hard, got stuck in and was neat on the ball, Ramsey got up and down, he just lacked the killer touch in the final third today, Frimpong played with discipline and was always pressing, until he was replaced by Coquelin with about 15 mins to go.

Personally I think our current 4-3-3 system has several problems with it, the main ones being the lack of defensive protection provided to the full backs and the lack of support for our lone striker. Gibbs and Sagna were left a bit isolated at times, all three of our midfielders are happy centrally and not out wide. There was also the issue of our lack of width on the left, Gervinho pace and directness was definitely missed.

To me we have too many players with rather indeterminate roles, players whose best position is not yet known like Theo, is he a striker or a wide forward or a winger? Playing with Theo and Arshavin as extra forwards, as well as RVP, leaves too much defensive work for the midfield three in my opinion, the balance is not quite there with that eleven. Today's 4-3-3 left us too congested in the centre with three central midfielders and Arshavin playing largely centrally, we needed more width and less in the centre.

Three points, what a relief, it is vital we build on this and keep the momentum going with a good run of league games. The big positives today were the solid debuts from Arteta and Mertesacker, they were badly needed additions to the squad. I just have this bit of a gnawing doubt about the way our 4-3-3 system is being set up at home, it just doesn't look or feel right. I am not sure who is going to give us width on the left, as Arshavin has to play centrally, will the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Miyaichi have a role to play or is this just a year or so too early for them?

Finally a special word for the youngest referee in the league, Stuart Attwell, his general uselessness stood out in making some generally poor decisions both ways. I couldn't ignore that could I?


Anonymous said...

Not sure where you got the opinion that Mertesacker was our best defender. Kos was far better, whilst Per was decent, nothing more, nothing less

Anonymous said...

Arsenal were poor, very lucky today. Teams now know they go to the Emirates without fear and will pick up wins. Swansea should of had a couple of goals.

Anonymous said...

Gervinho will play on the left. With him and Song back I feel we will improve, particularly with Gervinho in attack.

Uncle Mike said...

Was it my imagination? As long as it was 0-0, I didn't see Atwell make a single bad decision. As soon as Arsenal scored, and especially in the 2nd half, he was reffing as if, "Uh-oh, Arsenal might win this, I'd better do whatever I can to take it away from them so I can please my masters at the FA." said...

This won't have effect in fact, that's exactly what I believe.