16 March 2013

Arsenal 2-0 Swansea (with video): A Dish Best Served Cold

video
Goals from Nacho Monreal (74') and Gervinho (91') paved the way for a nifty victory at a cold and rainy Liberty Stadium. It may not have been pretty, but three points is three points. With Liverpool losing 3-1 to Southampton and Everton punishing Man City 2-0 despite losing Pienaar to a second yellow about with about 30 minutes to play, it was important to keep them at arm's length and to pull up on Chelsea and Spurs. Heck, City's loss leaves them only five up on Spurs. Whether this lends Spurs further motivation to pursue a second-place finish rather than trying to solidify a third-pace finish remains to be seen. Chelsea hosts West Ham and Spurs host Fulham, winnable games for each.

There will probably some similar talk of Swansea out-Arsenaling us again, but the outcome is exactly opposite of our first Prem match when they stole the away-victory 2-0. The scoreline shows that Swansea had 57% possession, not a stat we're used to seeing. However, they mustered only nine shots and none on-frame, while we made much-more efficient use of our time on the ball, creating 14 shots with 5 on-frame and, of course, two through the back of the net. Monreal's came on a bit of a scrum as Cazorla's pass found its way through a thicket of defenders to Giroud in the box, but the best he could do was poke at it because it was behind him (truth be told, there were two teammates behind Giroud who could have taken a clean shot, but why complain? A goal's a goal). Monreal collected it and shot through the thicket to put it home. It won't show up on the scoresheet, but Cazorla terrorized Swansea all day and could have a couple of goals. Similarly, Oxlade-Chamberlain was bright and focused and struck the woodwork twice.

Shortly after the three minutes of stoppage time was announced, a much prettier sequence came on a break. Giroud  pressed forward and found Ramsey on the right wing, and Ramsey had nothing but time and green space, so he played a ball across the top of the 18 for Gervinho, who did well to collect in-stride and curl past Vorm. It wasn't quite Henry-esque, but there were hints of the classic curling right-footed shot in the side-netting.
All in all, a decent game. We played well and withstood Swansea's attack. Only a Michu shot at 16' or so showed any threat, but it squirmed harmlessly wide. With our game in hand, we now sit two back of Chelsea and four of Spurs. We should know in roughly 24 hours whether this has changed. For now, enjoy a second consecutive clean sheet and strong showing.

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