I always get nervy when there are games like today. Hey, I’m an Arsenal fan, so I get nervy about pretty much every game these days, but I feel like games like today leave a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach and I don’t really like it.
its when the chips are so heavily stacked in our favour, you see, because that is usually when we manage to truly eff it up. We had a great performance last weekend, we’re at home, Swansea are in a poor run of form, they have a few players out injured (Renato Sanchez, Wilfred Bony and Martin Olsson I believe) and we have no fresh injury concerns; everything seems to be in our favour and I don’t like that one bit.
my fear compares from that horrible word: complacency. If any team at the top end of the Premier League are guilty of it, it’s Arsenal, so that’s the main reason for my fear today. And usually when Swansea have come to Arsenal there has been a bit of the old ‘c word’ going around so my hope is that we see none of that today.
Which means the tone and tempo of the game needs to start early. If Arsenal start by moving the ball quickly, by pulling Swansea around the pitch and by forcing them to lose shape, we’ll be in with a good shout of three points today. Paul Clement set his team up to be difficult to break down away from home against the Totts and I have to assume he’ll use that as the blueprint for today’s game. They’ll be compact, they’ll have a midfield that sits in and they’ll look to frustrate us.
we’ve been getting a few early goals at home though, so if that happens again today then it throws his gameplay out the window and they’ll be forced to come at us. So that’s why a high tempo in the early skirmishes simply has to be Soup de jour.
I suspect we’ll see the weekend team in full action today which means Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Montreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Özil, Alexis and Lacazette as your starting XI. The emphasis will be for those attacking players to open up Swansea in probably quite confined spaces but the movement and ability of our front three should see that happen today. I hope.
A game like today also lends itself to Ramsey though, because if he’s going to be spending more time in the attacking third of the pitch then it gives us another option for the overload. The trick will be to ensure that when the ball is turned over, that he’s at least covering space because isolating Xhaka on his own in front of our back three has cost us all season. Mustafi may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a game like today where he excels, because he’s always aiming to win the ball higher up the pitch and on a team that wants to break when we’ve committed bodies forward, that comes in handy I always feel with someone like Xhaka, because there’s always two more defenders behind in the central positions. There’s rumours he could be available today but I’d be surprised if he’s risked by Arsène.
The Swansea team will include a back four that will most likely have Britton, Carroll and Clucas sat deep in front of them so I expect it’ll be a compact game. In Ayew and Abraham though they do have pace, so what we need to ensure is that if and when they break, we have covering bodies. They are sure to try to isolate themselves up against Big Per so really it’s on Koscielny and Monreal to ensure that doesn’t happen too often.
I read this morning that only Chelski have a better Premier League record at the Emirates than Swansea and they’ve won at Arsenal three times since promotion and so we should be under no illusions that they could do a number on us today. They’ll have a game plan, they’ll look to frustrate and if we see ‘sleepy Arsenal’ then I worry that it will be an afternoon of anguish.
but if we have any aspirations of getting back to the top table then this is the sort of game we need to win. Next weekend it’s Man City away and right now it looks like we aren’t getting anything from that game, which means that matches like today become doubly important.
It’s on these players to perform and I want to see a statement today that they’re still reeling from Mr Deeney’s comments.
Go out there today and lay down a marker, Arsenal.