Reasons to be hopeful?
Let’s be realistic, (not that we weren’t anyway). 4th place has been the realistic aim since last month. Swansea away was always going to be a tough game, but it was a game that we needed to win and should have won.
It was another clusterfuck, and we really needed those three points. Luckily our 4th place rivals didn’t fare well either with the exception of United. One reason to be hopeful this year is that everyone else is crap too, (except Chelsea).
Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, United and even City have struggled so far, and I think that only City will come good on a consistent basis.
As for the current bunch ahead of us in the table, West Ham are in a false position and Swansea won’t stay where they are either. City will be ok, but I’m not brave enough to make a call on Southampton. The Saints are a quality side and they deserve their place. Can they stay there? Only time will tell.
Chelsea look unstoppable, but another reason to be hopeful is that while they may have destroyed us, they’re going to take points off of our rivals too.
There is yet another reason to be hopeful. One of my biggest criticisms of Wenger in my post last week was his lack of tactics. This is nothing new to Arsenal fans, but against Swansea I could see that he had a plan, and it almost worked.
Wenger had clearly thought about the need to nullify Sigurdsson. Flamini stuck to him and stopped him from affecting the game as far as he could. Scoring a stunner from a set piece is not something Flamini can legislate for. I felt like Sigurdsson didn’t manage too much else otherwise.
There was also a plan for Bony. Per and Nacho kept him quiet between them. When we had the ball, Nacho kept an eye on him, knowing that he wouldn’t be beaten for pace or mobility if they countered into space. When Swansea were closer to our six yard line, Per took over to ensure he won any aerial duels. Wenger would have been aware that the Swans hadn’t scored from a header or set piece this season, so by nullifying their main playmaker and striker, he must have been confident that our front line would win us the game.
That’s probably why he was happy to let Montero skin Chambers all day. The crosses were coming in but we were dealing with them. (I do think the Ox must have been told to help him before the game, but after the 15 minute mark he clearly forgot).
Then the changes came, and it all went horribly wrong. Gibbs was caught out too far up the pitch, which is why he took one for the team and conceded the free kick that led to their equaliser. Hopefully next time he’ll make the foul 10 yards earlier.
Once again our kamikaze habit of pushing too hard for another goal bit us hard, but it took a very good free kick.
As for the second goal, Gomis’ raw strength made the difference. Our central defenders didn’t seem to have a plan in place for him and when the decisive cross came in he knocked Monreal out of the way just prior to heading in the goal.
Maybe Wenger should have responded to the Swansea changes when they were made rather than bringing on Yaya Sanogoal in the 79th minute to rescue a point. Either way, our glaring weaknesses were exposed once again.
If Arsene doesn’t trust Bellerin then the decision to let Jenkinson go is looking more and more strange.
Back to Sanogo. Why? Not just why bring him on when Podolski is sat there twiddling his thumbs, but why is he at the club? Wenger has previously said that he would only bring in a player if they were better than what he’s already got. Anyone who still supports Arsene must ask if there truly isn’t anyone out there better than Sanogo. They must also ask why he persists with players like Yaya and Bendtner before him.
Finally there’s one more reason to be hopeful. Giroud.
We tend to get countered when we lose the ball on the edge of the oppositions penalty area, which is where Giroud excels at holding up the play for us. I believe that when he comes back our ability to maintain an attack will be much better, allowing us to score or at least have a crack at goal rather than lose the ball and get countered.
Combine these reasons to be hopeful and I think we’ll finish fourth and maybe have a shot at retaining the FA cup. That would be a decent season.
(I don’t think Wenger will do much in the transfer window which is why it’s not one of my reasons to be hopeful. If you don’t believe me I’ve got two words for you. Kim Kallstrom…)