Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Hangover: Arsenal 2 - Swansea City - 2

Swansea scored in the 11th minute, against the run of play, and Arsenal were left to chase the game. Chase it and chase it they did, with loads of possession, but hardly ever threatening Swansea's goal.

As the game wore on after halftime, Arsenal fans were left wondering whether the hangover following Chelsea's demolition job on Saturday was going to leave so much scar tissue that the Gunners might not even qualify for next year's Champions' League. After all, today's match against Swansea at home was supposed to be Arsenal's easy one, between Chelsea and Man City, followed by a trip to Everton.

Arsenal were still chasing the game in the 73d minute, when almost out of nothing they scored the equalizer on a goal by Podolski from a cross by Gibbs. A minute later, Podolski turned provider, crossing a ball into the box for Olivier Giroud to slot home. All of a sudden, after producing almost no real chances throughout the match, Arsenal were leading with just a quarter of an hour remaining.

With both Arteta and Flamini on the pitch, Arsenal seemed secure enough on defense. But no one-goal lead is ever really safe. And Arsenal gave up a soft one in the 90th minute. Four or five Arsenal players were chasing the ball around the outside of the box, which opened up the center channel for Leon Britton to run in to. Szczesny came out to block his shot, but it rebounded in off of Flamini.

Today's match was not about the race for the Premiership Title - that horse has left the barn. This was about rebuilding confidence (especially on home turf) heading into another spate of tough matches. For that purpose, Arsenal needed all three points. They got just one.

The FA Cup is still there for the taking, but with Arsenal's confidence at low ebb and the manager seemingly out of ideas, the task is more daunting that it might appear, given the quality (on paper) of the opponents.

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