Much of the talk in the build up to Arsenal’s game at Swansea was around the Costa Rican Joel Campbell. With injuries to Walcott, the Ox and Aaron Ramsey the options on the right hand side for Mr Wenger were limited. I did mention in my previous article that I was disappointed in Joel’s midweek display at Hillsborough & having looked at various pieces on social media many people were suggesting reshuffling the pack to fill that spot.
Credit to the boss for believing in Campbell and giving him that opportunity because he stepped up and grabbed it with both hands. Many will look at the result and say ‘Wenger picked him & he scored” but it was much more than just the goal. From the very start of the game Joel was constantly involved in the play and had a fairly early attempt at goal curling a shot high and wide of the target. Also worth mentioning the Costa Rican’s incredible work rate and thankfully he got his reward by netting the third to seal the victory for the Gunners.
We always carried a threat on the break & were always going to make chances in this game & Giroud had a great chance in the first half to fire us in front. Unfortunately the Frenchmen couldn’t keep his effort down and sent it flying over the bar. That however, wasn’t before Swansea striker Gomis missed arguably the best chance of the game. He somehow beat the offside trap and seemed to have an age in front of the Arsenal goal with just Petr Cech to beat. The striker hesitated and Hector Bellerin’s rapid pace allowed him to chase back and make the crucial tackle.
So how did Gomis not score? I put it down to the fantastic goal keeping of Petr Cech. Gomis was clean through with lots of time and space and as he approached the goal the big keeper stepped out to confront the striker. Since his arrival at Arsenal he’s received a lot of praise for his presence, calm head and the fact that he gives his defence that sense of belief.
As well as all of those things I’ve personally been really impressed with how he deals with one on ones & yesterday confirmed what I already knew. This was the perfect example. As the striker rushed through Cech was out to confront the forward very calmly and making himself as big as possible. The key factor for me is that he stayed on his feet, it was like a stand off between the big keeper and the striker. By not going down to Gomis’ feet early he caused the striker to hesitate and that moment of uncertainty he caused the striker to have meant that Bellerin was able to get back in and win the ball.
So when people say a good goalkeeper can earn you points, that’s exactly what they mean. At a crucial moment in the game we were still level thanks to the big man. Some people may look at it on match of the day and just say ‘Gomis should have scored’ but I cannot stress enough what a massive role the keeper played in that staying out.
The second half began and our attacking threat began to grow. Don’t be fooled though Swansea were also causing us plenty of problems and Laurent Koscielny in particular was outstanding at the back. One constant problem that the Swans were causing us was coming in our right back area and guess who it was, again! Jefferson Montero, the tricky winger who terrorised Callum Chambers last season was giving Hector Bellerin a hard time from the first minute right up until the last.
Bellerin in my view is a very good prospect and is developing into a fine player. In recent weeks I have been full of praise for the young defender and I do believe he will be in that ‘world class’ bracket we all love to talk about. He’s also blessed with incredible pace and a lot of the time this gets him out of some sticky situations. However, when you come up against a very tricky winger who’s also got a rocket up his ass, only then are we able to judge Bellerin’s positional play and decision making properly. It wasn’t all bad and I’m sure the young full back learnt a lot from this game – all part of the developing process. At times though, there is no doubt his positional sense and decision making were found wanting.
In terms of the goals, Olivier Giroud popped up with another header to fire us into the lead. He got away from his marker and smartly headed the ball into the ground towards the bottom right corner and gave Fabianski no chance. Some will argue the second goal was against the run of play & maybe at that moment in the game it was. But up stepped Laurent Koscielny to grab the second after a mishap from the ex Arsenal goal keeper. At first there were claims of a foul on the keeper but having seen it again and again the defender just stood his ground and was able to roll the ball into the net when the keeper couldn’t keep hold of it. That’s 2 goals in 2 league games for the centre half, maybe he’s been asked to cover for Theo in the coming weeks! Haha.
Although the game was pretty much wrapped up at this point, the final goal was the one that put the biggest grin on my face. After working very hard all game the ball kindly fell to Joel Campbell to finish with his favoured left foot into the far corner and top off a brilliant Arsenal win. I literally couldn’t be happier for him! A huge confidence boost and hopefully he can push on and make that spot his own for the coming weeks. Other good individual performances I wanted to mention were those of Mesut Ozil, he continued his brilliant form and once again was the assist king at the Liberty stadium & Alexis Sanchez was again fantastic despite not getting on the scoresheet. Overall great team performance and the good run continues. Bring on Bayern!!!
Don’t forget to listen in to the weekly ‘Sofa Sports News Podcast’ featuring myself and Alavi. Now available on Soundcloud & ITunes!
Harry Symeou (AFC FAN)