Having watched the second half again last night, I felt a lot more positive about the whole game than I did when I watched the game for the first time. In the first half, Arsenal tried as hard as in the second half, but the belief was not there and our football looked a bit ‘theoretical’ as a result. We pressed them in numbers and tried to find openings, but the midfield and our attack looked like separate sub-teams.
This all changed in the second half, when we took the game once again to Swansea with plenty of energy, focus and with more invention. Swansea scored their goal against the run of play, and our defence should have done better in avoiding the chance happening in the first place and dealing with it as well.
We did not give up though and kept pushing for the equaliser, driven on by the real leader in this team: little Jackie Wilshere. Our goals came in quick succession by substitute Podolski and the other ‘driver’ yesterday: Kieran Gibbs. Podolski showed his predatory instinct with a fine turn and ferocious shot into the corner of the goal which left Vorm shapeless, and Gibbs’ goal was a Bergkampesque beauty; converting a fine ball over the top by Giroud with venom and precision in the roof of the net.
Before the goals, Arsenal had been close to scoring on several occasions but we lacked quality in our finishing: Giroud, Theo, Cazorla and Podolski all missed decent to great chances.
Why no Rosicky yesterday?
Cazorla is one of our best footballers, and I would always play him as long as he is fit. But Arsene has given him the responsibility to shape our attacks and direct our play, and I feel he is struggling in this department recently. He is no Fabregas that is for sure, and I reckon it is Wilshere who is mainly directing our football at the moment with his drive, overview and passing ability.
I am wondering more and more whether Cazorla should play on the wings, at least for a few games, and give Rosicky a chance to play in his position. I reckon we would get a far better shape to the team and become more inventive and effective as a result. But Arsene did once again not even use him as a substitute, and I am starting to wonder whether Rosicky is in line for being sold during this TW. Given the Czechs’ fitness problems I would not be too sad about that, as long as he is replaced. However, I think we are missing a trick or two at the moment, and Rosicky could really lift this team with his drive and ability.
Theo and Giroud not gelling yet
With Ramsey on the left, and Theo playing a lot closer to Giroud than usual, we did not have proper wingers yesterday. A lot of wing-play came from the wing-backs, and especially Gibbs did really well yesterday (if only he could learn to cross!). It was also good to see Sagna back with confidence and drive and I hope he will improve further against Man City. The cross of the game came from the much maligned Ramsey, who worked hard to get himself a bit of space and time to cross all the way from the corner flag onto Giroud forehead at a perfect height. But Giroud is once again trying too hard to convince his (few) doubters that he really is a good striker, which seems to affect his finishing.
Ollie works so hard for the team and tries to help as much as he can, but it is clear he is one of these players who needs to play regularly to be at his best. Theo also struggled to have a real impact on the game, as Swansea did not allow him, and the rest of the team, a lot of space during most of the game.
It was also clear that Giroud and Walcott have some way to go to become a strong partnership, but I do feel we need to keep playing them together for a while (maybe with Rosicky and Cazorla, or Ox and Pod, on the wings in a 4-4-2).
Second half offers hope of better times to come.
This season we seem to be a second half team. We play a lot better after the break which indicates to me that as a team we are not gelling enough on the pitch, and Wenger and Bould need to do a lot of work at half time to get the players to perform better both tactically and personally. It does seem to work, though, but we need to get the same level of performance for 90 minutes, if we are to beat the Northern and Southern Oilers in our next PL fixtures this month.
The second half performance offers hope of progress in terms of drive and spirit. But our defending needs to improve significantly, and Mertesacker will play a key role in this. He did not have a good game yesterday, but just like Giroud he is one of those players who need to play regularly to be at his best. We need his organisational skills and reading of the game to give us back shape and unity in our defence. Let’s hope he is back to his best again next weekend.
Written by: Total Arsenal.