Kyri sent us in this piece on his way home from Swansea…Read his thoughts on Arsenal’s win at the Liberty Stadium.

When the gunners go on a good run and then loose a game like they did at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night it usually disrupts the momentum and rhythm that’s why I was worried heading to Swansea on Saturday.

A hard enough game anyway away from home at any time off the season let alone after being dumped out the cup in the week and having to travel away to a team that done a league double over us last season with 8 players missing.

I didn’t have the best off feelings going into the game.

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Arsenal’s win at the Liberty stadium on Saturday was impressive, a very big 3 points. Arsenal travelled to South Wales with 8 players missing from the squad and gave a Premier League debut to Joel Campbell who had a poor game on Tuesday night against Sheffield Wednesday.

It was a poor first half from the gunners who couldn’t keep the ball, the play with it was very slow with very little movement off the ball, to be fair what didn’t help was Swansea committing several fouls in the 1st half and surprisingly didn’t manage to pick up a booking until the 57th minute.

Swansea played a high tempo pressing game in the first half and didn’t let Arsenal settle and it worked.

That’s one off the things that worry me with Arsenal is when teams press against us we really struggle.

Petr Cech and Koscienly were Arsenal’s two best players in the 1st half and goalkeeper Cech who’s kept 7 clean sheets in Arsenal’s first 11 games has made a massive difference at Arsenal so far this campaign.

Cech showed an example off his quality when Jonjo Shelvey put a great ball through to Gomis who was 1 on 1 with Cech and the keeper kept his cool and made his goal look very small, Gomis tried to round the keeper but eventually Bellerin who had to sprint back from the Swansea half to put it out for a corner.

At that moment I accepted that Swansea would go 1-0 up.

In the past had Arsenal had a goalkeeper like szsceny been in between the sticks Swansea would off had a penalty and Arsenal would have been down to 10 men.

Also in the 1st half Arsenal escaped with a Per Mertasacker hand ball from Sigurdsson’s free kick which was a stone wall penalty and the referee missed it, you sometimes need that bit off luck to go your way.

The 2nd half was a lot different, with Arsenal scoring early in the 2nd half the game changed and what was surprising is Giroud’s header came from Ozil’s corner because The Gunners scoring from a set piece is very rare.

After the deadlock was broken Swansea committed men forward looking for the equaliser as Arsenal sat with numbers behind the ball in a good organised shape and picked Swansea off on the break with quick passing and movement and ended up scoring a 2nd goal through Laurent Koscienly which could also have been chalked off when Koscienly and Giroud jumped with goalkeeper Fabianski for the ball but to be fair it was never a foul on the goalkeeper.

After the 2nd goal the confidence and momentum was with Arsenal and it was like a training session and the football was fantastic to watch.

Mesut Ozil has got a bit off stick in his career at Arsenal but he’s a joy to watch with his control, passing, dribbling with the ball at his feet and creating space for himself off the ball it wasn’t any different against Swansea the German ran the show in the 2nd half at the Liberty by creating 2 off Arsenal’s 3 goals. Anybody who doesn’t appreciate or see what Mesut Ozil brings to Arsenal or any team he’s played in just look at his stats.

I felt sorry for Alexis Sanchez at times yesterday far from his best performance in an Arsenal shirt but he worked really hard and was desperate to score you could tell by his temper and his reactions every time he wanted the ball returned to him after a pass or an opportunity missed he wasn’t happy.

Back to the game and Joel Campbell added a 3rd with a cool finish from Mesut Ozil’s pass across the box and the points were heading back down the M4 to North London.

Not many Gooners seem convinced with Campbell but yesterday put in a very good performance, working very hard on the right hand side tracking back helping Bellerin at right back and showing quick feet at the other end and a cool finish to score Arsenal’s 3rd in the 3-0 win.

That 2nd half performance from Arsenal was fantastic and a very impressive result away at a very tough place to go and win. Lucky not to go in at half time a goal down but if your going to have a chance of winning this league you definitely need the rub off the green on your side and you need to win a tough places like Swansea.

On to Bayern Munich now, that should be easy.

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Kyri Christodoulou (AFC Fan)

Swansea City 0-3 Arsenal – Joel gets his Goal as Gunners secure vital away win.

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.

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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.

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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.

during the Barclays Premier League match between XXX and XXX at Liberty Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Swansea, Wales.

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)

Swansea vs Arsenal Preview – Kyri Christodoulou

After what happened on Tuesday night at Hillsborough it’s easy to forget that Arsenal head into Swansea game on Saturday in fine form. Beating Watford, Man Utd, Bayern Munich and Everton shows that Arsenal are in great form.

Tuesday night was just a disaster from start to finish. Firstly, the Ox going off injured and then his replacement Theo Walcott coming off injured shortly after so early on in the game.
I immediately got that feeling that this particular Tuesday night wasn’t going to go so well.

Something seriously has to be looked at when it comes to injuries. Part of the problem is Wenger’s obsession about his team being the fittest team in the league because it can win you games in the last 10-15 minutes. This has happened quite often in the past but our squad has also suffered for it for many seasons as well. The fitter you are the tighter your muscles are and the more likely you are to pick up injuries.

Had Wilshere, Welbeck, Arterta, & Rosicky been available they would have played at Sheffield Wednesday and we probably would have won. But we’ll never know that now. Arsene Wenger didn’t really have a choice but to play the likes off Iwobi, Kamara, Campbell the other night and have a very young and inexperienced bench and we paid the price against a very physical, hard working and organised Sheffield Wednesday side.

The problem we have now is we have Swansea (A) Bayern Munich (A) and the small matter off Tottenham (H) all in 8 days and we need to respond after Tuesday night. We have Wilshere, Welbeck, Arteta, Rosicky, Ramsey, Ox, Walcott, Ospina all on the treatment table. I personal think Arsenal have the starting 11 and the squad to seriously challenge or win the Premier League title this campaign but that’s if we can keep everybody fit. (1st team and squad players). If we can do that we have every chance (but its a big if). If it’s the same old story with injuries again then we’ll finish the season with nothing.

So heading into the game in South Wales on Saturday afternoon we have a big problem who plays on the right hand side.

The options are… I suppose Bellerin can play further forward and play Debuchy at RB, for me I want Debuchy nowhere near the 1st team at the moment. Cazorla, Ozil could play on the left and Alexis Sanchez on the right but who plays the middle? No Ramsey no Wilshere no Arteta, A partnership off Coquelin and Flamini would be to defensive for me. Another option would be to just play Joel Campbell and Alexis Sanchez on either side. It will be interesting to see what Wenger does.

For me Aaron Ramsey is a massive loss for Arsenal people criticise the manager sometimes for playing him wide right and I know it’s not his natural position but I don’t see a problem at all with him on the right. Wenger plays him on the right to accommodate Cazorla, Ozil etc but I don’t see a problem with that. He’s without question the biggest engine and hard worker in the team and tracks back, goes forward, he’s up and down always wants the ball even when he’s having a bad game and you can never fault his commitment.

Ramsey reads the game very well and even though he’s only scored once this season he’s getting himself in the right positions at the right times and that’s no coincidence, the goals will come for him. For me he is the next captain of Arsenal and hopefully he’ll be back in the team after the international break.

The Liberty stadium is a place where Arsenal have had a hard time over the last few seasons it’s never an easy place for a team to go to. Arsenal have won twice and lost twice and drawn 2-2 in an FA cup tie since Swansea got promoted to the premier league.

The two victories for Arsenal in recent seasons were certainly battles. This fixture last season in my option saw Arsenal comment suicide. The Gunners went ahead through Alexis Sanchez and with 15 minutes left Arsenal got caught on the break like they were the team chasing the game and and gave away a free kick which Gylfi Sigurdsson scored, was a cracker to be fair. After that Jefferson Montero who was a massive pain in the back side for the whole game put in a cross for French striker Gomis who scored the winner & Swansea ended up winning 2-1.

In fact the last time Arsenal beat Swansea home or away was in September 2013 at the Liberty stadium, and have played each other 4 times since then, so this is far from a easy game especially with 8 injuries and a poor recent record against the Welsh side. Having said that, Arsenal’s away record is very impressive. And if the Gunners are to be Champions come May, they need to win at places like Swansea throughout the season. So in conclusion a tough test for The Arsenal.

This is the line up I would go with, ¬†the reason I’ve gone with Campbell is because he’s an experienced player and should be able to cope at this level, he has experience of playing at a World Cup and it doesn’t get much better than that. ¬†Hopefully he can produce and take his opportunity in the first team.image

My prediction: “My heart says 2-1 Arsenal but my head says 1-1!”

Kyri Christodoulou
(AFC FAN)