By Walter Broeckx
As could be expected a few changes compared to our cup match at Preston last weekend.
Cech back in goal for Ospina was expected. Koscielny and Mustafa in the centre was also an expected pairing. At right back Gabriel started and that is something that I also had thought would be a wise thing to do. Monreal completed the back line.
Özil also started his first match of the year after having been out ill since the start of the new year. Alexis also came back and Lucas dropped to the bench. On that bench a lot of attacking options with Welbeck, The Ox and Lucas. The other subs are rather very young and inexperienced.
Arsenal team at the start : Cech,Gabriel, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud, Alexis.
On the beach : Ospina, Lucas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Holding, Reine-Adelaide, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck.
Both keepers completely unemployed in the opening 10 minutes that saw lots of midfield play from both teams. Naughton then with a shot but Cech could push it away and the resulting corner ended with a shot well off target. Nothing from Arsenal in the first 15 minutes so a 0-0 score so far.
Koscielny almost with an error when he tries to head the ball to Mustafi but the latter could clear for a corner. Swansea quicker and stronger in the 50/50 challenges so far. Arsenal get a first corner and the ref blows for a not visible foul against Arsenal. Arsenal now with most of the ball but not creating chances. Alexis with the first shot but a good stop from Fabianski on the dipping shot. Still 0-0 after 30 minutes.
Giroud limping a bit for a while now and not looking 100% fit after having suffered an early kick. Dyer with anothr kick on the ankle of Monreal but the ref keeps the cards in his pocket, it wasn’t the first such foul on Monreal in this match. Arsenal lacking the overlap from Bellerin on the flank. Arsenal then finally with a real attack. Özil to Ramsey to Iwobi, back to Özil who plays it to Ramsey on the flank but Giroud can’t get on the end of his low cross. Alexis picks it up on the left flank, a cross to Özil whose header is blocked by a defender and falls in front of the feet of Giroud who scores with his right foot. GOAL!!!! 0-1 to The Arsenal after 37 minutes.
Giroud indicates he can’t continue and has to go off. The Ox prepares himself. And that would mean that Alexis would play in the central striker role again. Ki goes down in the Arsenal penalty area but the ref gives a free kick for a dive and a yellow card and on the third replay it was visible that Ki stuck out his leg and Koscielny pulled his leg out of the way, so a correct decision from the ref and a great spot. Gabriel then with a bad pass but Dyer his shot went over. Arsenal with 11 players on the pitch but only 10 fit as Giroud really looked in serious trouble. 0-1 in favour of Arsenal after 45 minutes.
Giroud still on the field at thet start of the second half. A good attack from Arsenal after a good turn from Alexis at the start of the attack but his cross is cleared in front of Giroud. Iwobi with a good run but Alexis sees his shot blocked. Another attempt from Iwobi but again a defender in the way. Ramsey then with a shot but a good stop from Fabiasnki and it all ends with a corner. Swansea can’t clear the ball completely and the ball ends up in front of the feet of Iwobi who has a shot that takes a deflection from a defender and loops over Fabianski in the back of the net. GOAL!!!! 0-2 to The Arsenal after 54 minutes. The relentless pressure paid off there.
Swansea trying to do something back now but not getting close to Cech. The Ox finally coming on for Giroud after 60 minutes. So probably Alexis up front now. Iwobi on the left and The Ox on the right flank. Still 0-2 to The Arsenal after 60 minutes.
Arsenal a bit less going forward now and trying more to control the match. Swansea get a corner that ends with a tame shot over the goal but more or less a promising position for Swansea. Özil with a great ball to Iwobi who faked a shot, a cross and then whipped it in front of the goal only to see how former tiny totts player Naughton scored for Arsenal. GOAL!!! 0-3 to the Arsenal after 67 minutes.
Arsenal again with a dangerous attack that ends with a shot from Xhaka that went well wide. Alexis with a shot that went past the goal but the attack continued and Iwobi again very much involved and using his strong body to put himself in a good position, a ball to The Ox on the left and his cut back pass was played in the path of Alexis by a defender who simply tucked it home. GOAL!!! 0-4 to The Arsenal after 73 minutes.
That took the sting a bit out of the match and Arsenal now leaning backwards a bit and Swansea facing a shear impossible task. 0-4 after 75 minutes.
Giroud had his foot packed in ice and Alexis with some show booting, and then Özil and Iwobi again with a good combination but the ball wouldn’t fall quick enough for Alexis to pull the trigger again. Fer goes in the book for a wild challenge on Ramsey. After 78 minutes Lucas came on for Alexis and Welbeck came on for Özil. Alexis not happy as usual when being taken off. Wait for the he’s off in the next week….
Arsenal just playing the ball around a bit everywhere on the field but not really trying to go for that 5th goal. We sometimes are too kind for teams who are down on the floor. A good attack on the right with a low cross from The Ox that is cleared to Xhaka and Fabianski with a good stop on the low shot. At times it looked as if we felt sorry and tried to give Swansea some chances with giving the ball away too cheap. But even then it lead to nothing for Swansea. Another low shot from Xhaka and another good stop from Fabianski.
Naughton with a two footed challenge on Ramsey that got the ball but be careful to not get any injuries my dear Gunners. Gabriel with a good block and a clash of heads between McBurnie and Koscielny ends up with the latter needing some treatment. 3 minutes of useless extra time is added.
TV also thinks it is enough and showing a Swansea fan going home for a minute or so…. I don’t pay to see that, I pay to see the ball moving around on the field. Borja with a diving header for Swansea in extra time when the Arsenal players were almost in the dressing room with their heads already. Worse was Mustafi limping a bit holding his groin after that… That useless extra time…
Arsenal win with a high score in what was a times a tricky ground for us in the past. Iwobi was my man of the match for the way he pulled the strings after half time. I have reserved my praise for him over the last year but he really seems to be growing and growing and has a lot of potential.