By Alameen KH
Arsenal squeezed past Swansea with a 3-2 victory and a nerve-wracking ending.
It should have been easy-going, but this is Arsenal, where they usually win, the Arsenal way; delighting us with their tactical genius, getting themselves involved in some refereeing controversy and keeping us on the edge of our seats doubting if we’ll ever take the 3 points home until the very last minute. But for all their faults, Arsenal kept their nerve this time and won 3-2 against Swansea.
Arsenal started the game playing quick, pacy football, pressing Swansea into making mistakes and passing the ball with slick precision. But the first good chance of the game came from the away side when Leory Fer blazed over the bar after being left free in the box.
The first goal of the game was the result of quick passes between Alexis, Iwobi and Walcott, where Sanchez unleashing Bellerin and his header across the goal was cleared by the goalkeeper, only to fall into the path of Walcott, who scored his fourth goal in the premier league. Six minutes later he increased his and Arsenal’s tally from the corner where he netted home with a calm and effective finish.
When it looked like Arsenal where taking this game out of the visitor’s reach, a mistake from Xhaka enabled Sigurdsson to score past Cech.
Just like first half, Arsenal started the second half with urgency, powered by the swift legs of Alexis, Iwobi and Walcott . The third goal came after some quick switch of play that found Sanchez on the outside of the box, who in turn, giftwrapped the perfect cross for the birthday boy Ozil to volley home majestically.
Swansea scored their second goal when Barrow beat Monreal and made a cross for Borja to slide home. Arsenal wasted a lot of chances late in the game, where they should have put the game to bed. Chamberlain twice passed the ball to Walcott after a daring run. Theo’s first miss could have been classified as a difficult shot to convert, but his second one had been a sitter. The hotchpotch of misses were finally brought to an end with the referee’s whistle.
Tactical Analysis and Stats.
Arsenal started with the same lineup they played with against Burnley . The traditional 4-2-3-1 which alternately changes to a 4-4-2 when they are chasing the ball. Swansea played with a formation of 4-4-2 with Fabianski at goal and the Borja – Fay duo upfront.
Arsenal picked up from where they left in the last game, playing quick pressing football. This season, with the pace of Mustafi and Koscielny, Arsenal can play a higher defensive line which acts as an additional layer for the deep midfield thereby giving alternative options to unleash pacey forwards like Walcott, Iwobi and Sanchez.
Last night’s match was the perfect example illustrating the gain and drawback of this tactic. With the high defence line, Arsenal can easily pave the way for the quick counterattack by intercepting the ball in the center of the pitch and unleashing the pacey forwards. But this also forces the opposition to attack from the wings and if Arsenal’s full backs were out of position or exposed, it may lead to goals like the one where Barrow outwitted the Monreal and made a perfect cross to Borja to score. Another example was during the game against PSG, where Monreal got outsmarted in the left side by Aurier who, on that occasion, had found Cavani inside the box, leading to an early goal for the French side.
Last night, the vast majority of Swansea’s attacks came from their right wing, resulting in two goals for the Welsh side. With the changing of tactics from a slow possession game to quick high pressing game, Arsenal needs to fix these flaws in the left side of the pitch to avoid the same mistakes in future.
In the offensive perspective, Arsenal are perfect with the quick movement and passes between Iwobi, Alexis, Walcott and Ozil, constantly ramming the Swansea defence where Arsenal created 16 chances and their attack was mostly through the middle. Avoiding the cross from the wings style we have been familiar with over the last two seasons, primarily due to the absence of their target man Giroud.
Arsenal had 69% of their shots coming through middle and 62% of them from inside the box. The fairy tale start to Iwobi’s career continued in the last match where he made 3 key passes out of which one lead to goal.
Ozil and Sanchez created the lion’s share of Arsenal’s chances with their precision in the final third. Another stat worthy of mention, is Walcott scoring 7 times during 773 minutes played this season which is already better than his tally last season.
Overall the victory against Swansea was an interesting one and Arsenal seem to have come out of the international break in full swing.