London’s most storied football club Arsenal were the butt of internet trolls after the club’s latest low moment, losing to bottom of the table Swansea on a rainy Tuesday night in Wales.
The trolls ran the gamut of ‘Wenger out’ over the dismal performance of the Arsenal players who looked bizarrely not up for the fight as they slumped to a very embarrassing 1-3 defeat to Swansea who needed the win to climb out of the bottom of the EPL table.
Yet there was little to suggest things were going to turn this ugly.
Going into the match there was a swagger amongst the Arsenal fan base, despite selling their most prolific scorer Alexis Sanchez last week to rivals Manchester United.
However, the Gunners had acquired a talented midfield player from the Red Devil’s in Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return and had just outplayed and beaten London fierce rivals Chelsea 2-1 to qualify for the final of the League Cup.
Most exciting was the news prior to kick off that the much sought after striker to fill the goalscoring void left behind by Sanchez, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund was at Arsenal’s Colney training ground to undergo his medicals before joining The Gunners.
It was clear at the start of the game that the feel good factor was affecting the Arsenal players and they swaggered their way through the opening minutes, seeming to think that just turning up alone was a guarantee of victory. But they met a defensively resolute Swansea who also had a clever attacking game plan which they executed beautifully.
Arsenal’s manager summed up his club’s performance succinctly when he said post game: “We made unusual and massive mistakes that was the killer. Unfortunately I believe we were not good enough, I believe we were not disciplined enough.
“Overall we were not convincing defensively and not convincing offensively and in the end we lose the game. Maybe it highlights the whole lack of quality of concentration that we didn’t have tonight.”
What is to be glimpsed from this statement is that the manager agrees somewhat with the argument that the acquisition of Aubameyang won’t solve all of Arsenal’s present problems. The problems are very much in defending as they are upfront.
It seems clear that the structure of Arsenal’s defending against sides that are set up to counter is in continuing shambles.
Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola, another manager like Wenger who likes his team to dominate possession, has found a way to largely neutralized opponents counter attacking abilities through some shrewd tactical means, including the innovative use of inverted full backs that sees the full back cutting in and carrying out counter pressing duties instead of going gong with the more creative and attacking minded players. While personal changes could solve the problems of poor defending, Arsenal would do well to fashion out a more effective tactical approach (like league leaders Man City) to improve their defending, otherwise they will continue to under achieve.
The dismal defeat against Swansea surely ensures that the excitement over the arrival of Aubameyang has been tampered because there’s a humbling realization that success this season is a challenging task, making the top 4 is slipping away and Aubameyang’s goals may not be enough to see Arsenal overhaul Liverpool and Tottenham in the race for a champions League place. Commentary – Nelson Dafe