Date:Monday September 30 2013
28th September 2013
Swansea City are still without a win at home in the League as Arsenal scored two quick goals at the start of the second half to go back to the top of the Premier League table.
Manager Michael Laudrup was without defensive duo Angel Rangel and Ashley Williams due to ankle injuries, so Jordi Amat and Dwight Tiendalli started their first league games of the season. There were always going to be questions asked before kick off as to whether or not the Swans could cope without such key defenders as Angel and Ash - two players that have been first team regulars since Roberto Martinez was manager.
What the 90 minutes proved was that Rangel and Williams' absences didn't cost us the game really. It would be very harsh on both Tiendalli and Amat to blame them on the defeat. We'll analyze the goals closer, but neither player were to blame for either of Arsenal's two goals.
Various things cost us the game. Yes, there were individual errors that helped Arsenal break the deadlock before the hour mark, but as Laudrup admitted afterwards, his defence sat too deep and Swansea lost their composure, conceded a second and severely hindered their chances of getting a point.
He explained his decision to start Michu up top, leaving Bony on the bench - to pack and support the midfield against a side like Arsenal so we wouldn't be outnumbered in the middle third. In our Preview, we noted that the midfield battle would be key to winning the game. Both teams' focus is possession, building from the back and creating space and hurting teams with a patient passing style and the Gunners proved in just a 4-minute spell how to expose the space and gaps the opposition leave, as well as the importance of taking your chances and counter attacking effectively.
The Swans seemed to have to make an awful lot of passes before even getting close to creating a chance on goal - particularly in the first half. While Arsenal didn't create much more, they didn't have to do so much work in midfield to carve out a shot on Vorm's goal.
The first half was a rather even affair, but Arsenal sent a warning late in first half injury time as poor awareness and ball watching amongst the Swansea defence allowed Giroud a free run into the penalty area, before retrieving the ball. Fortunately his low left-footed drive rolled past the far post.
Michael Laudrup appears to approach home games very cautiously against the top sides, putting Michu up top and packing the midfield to hold the opposition before looking to push in the second half for the win.
Laudrup's starting line-up (below, left) means that in a sense, it doesn't contain a striker - because Michu so often, and no fault of his own, struggles to get involved in games when up front, as the game is usually being played in the middle third amongst the 5 midfielders, and we struggle to create many clear cut chances, as we did in the first 45 minutes.
Michu is very much an attacking midfielder, but the Swans boss has quite rightly pointed out recently that he is much more than a goalscorer. We've demonstrated in previous match analysis that the Spaniard 'puts himself about' in games. 'Heatmaps' show how active he is all over the pitch and that he can offer defensive support as well as an attacking threat. It's maybe his 'puts himself about all over the pitch' tendencies that stop Laudrup from placing him in midfield behind Bony, preferring a more disciplined and rather defensive midfield to protect the defence against the more talented teams in the division.
Michu is of course most effective when he returns to that attacking midfield role, he has much more space to roam in behind Bony. He's far more active in that role, and he can create attacks as well as finish them off.
For half of the game, Swansea competed very well against the League leaders, their midfield matching the Gunners but Arsenal's extra quality was the difference in the end as Bony's arrival to boost our attacking momentum was too late, as they scored a second goal - which proved to be the key moment in the game.
Hopefully, Laudrup will be a bit more ambitious at home against the lesser teams in the division, as the Swans have the ability to beat teams convincingly with both Bony and Michu starting in a more attacking line-up.
Another key point from Swansea's performance was their lacklustre crossing ability. The full backs Ben Davies and Dwight Tiendalli offer the width in the side but their crossing was truly awful, and only one in 20 fell to a team-mate, as they continuously ended the attack and gave possession back to the opposition.
It was no surprise then to see that our goal in the game came when Ben Davies was about to cross, but instead made a run inside, linked up with Bony who produced a perfect lobbed pass through for the youngster to knee the ball into the net.
Above, Ben Davies begins his run inside, below shows Bony running back out of the penalty area and into space to retrieve the ball from Davies, before lobbing a beautiful pass through for him to score.
Where the game was won/lost:
Swansea City competed well in the first half, enjoying more possession and limited an Arsenal side full of attacking ability to only a handful of shots. Ozil was nowhere near as effective as we expected thanks to the defensive work of Canas and Ramsey only came close with a long range effort that went just wide. Things were looking promising at half time, but Arsenal did the damage in just 4 minutes.
It's not the first time that the Swans have conceded two quick goals to give them an uphill task in trying to get back into the game. The same happened against Manchester United in the opening day's 4-1 defeat.
For the first goal, Chico Flores was attracted to move a long way out of position to close down an Arsenal player that should have been marked by a midfielder, and as mentioned previously, Arsenal are so clinical at punishing teams who leave gaps.
In the lead-up to the first goal below, the small circle indicates Chico's advanced position, with the larger circle showing goalscorer Gnabry's space to retrieve the ball before finishing past Vorm.
The screenshot below highlights the problem better. The white lines show no structured back four, and there was a lack of defensive discipline and organisation without captain and defender Ashley Williams. The arrow shows Chico's run of position, and Jonathan de Guzman is also circled as he should be tracking back to compete in midfield.
For the second goal moments later, Arsenal's counter attack continues after de Guzman's poor effort to win the ball allows the Arsenal player to race forward in acres of space, with all of Swansea's players on the back foot.
The counter attack started as Dyer's shot (below) is saved by the goalkeeper. With Amat forward and the Swans protesting for a corner, the goalkeeper quickly rolls the ball out and Arsenal can take advantage.
It wasn't the best of games from Chico. He missed a tackle (below) and with the Swans racing back, 3 Arsenal players are free and it was Ramsey to receive the ball to fire past Vorm.
Minor mistakes cost us in the end, in what was a frustrating game and result, considering what was a promising first half. However, Arsenal were able to move up the gears and punished the Swans with effective counter attacking football and clinical finishing.
The second goal (see above) really killed the game for us. Ben Davies was able to get a goal back but it was too little too late in the end.
Was the scoreline a fair reflection on the game?
Arsenal deserved the win the game but the scoreline fairly suggests that it was a close game that Arsenal edged.
Match Analysis thanks to Come On You Swans.com
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Date:Monday September 30 2013
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