Sunday, 29 September 2013

Arsenal Retain Top Spot With A 2-1 Win Over Swansea

Arsenal just keep on winning games at the moment and it's great to be an Arsenal supporter. They have won 18 of their last 21 games and only lost one of them starting with that great 2-0 win away to Bayern Munich last march. That run saw them qualify for this season's Champions League and now it sees them sitting on top of the Premier League.

Of course we're only six games into the season and there's a long way to go, but they're in a much healthier position than most of us could have wished for. The team are looking solid in defence and scoring goals when it really matters at the other end. As it stands they have won their last eight league games away from home in a row.

Yesterday was never going to be an easy task against a Swansea team who player in a similar style to Arsenal. They needed to find that something extra to get the three points and when the chips were down it was again Aaron Ramsey who delivered. He played a lovely disguised pass to Serge Gnabry to set up the first goal and was on hand himself to score the second one after a lay off from Olivier Giroud.

The marquee signing of Mesut Ozil was the boost the club needed on deadline day, but the form of Ramsey has been the outstanding feature of the team so far this season. He took a fair deal of criticism from some Arsenal fans at times last season as he struggled with his form, but he has finally put his dreadful injury of three years ago behind him and shown what he is capable of. He has added goals and assists to his amazing work rate and superb engine.

When Arsenal signed Ozil I said they now had the best player in the league, but it's Ramsey who is currently the best player. That's no slight on Ozil who has fitted in very nicely and already looks like he has been an Arsenal player for a lot longer than four weeks. He's a player who makes things happen when he plays and they are few and far between.

With Theo Walcott injured Gnabry got a chance for the third game in a row and he really took advantage of that chance yesterday. When there was nothing happening in the game it was him who ran at the Swansea defence and set Giroud up for what should have been the first goal just before the break. He was prepared to take players on and was a constant threat to the Swansea defence when he came inside in particular.

Maybe he's not wholly comfortable with playing in a wide right role, but he certainly did the defensive work which is required of a player in that position. It was the Swansea left back who scored their goal to give them some hope after Gnabry had gone off. Maybe Gnabry would have been there to track back if he was still on the pitch.

In truth Swansea created very little besides their goal and the closest they came to scoring was from two cases of sloppy defending by Arsenal. In the first half an over hit back pass from Mathieu Flamini left Wojciech Szczesny in a spot of bother which he just about got out of and in the second half Jack Wilshere nearly set up an equaliser with a poor pass to Kieran Gibbs.

In attack Giroud didn't have a great game and he probably needs to get a goal to boost his confidence after missing a few chances in recent games. He never kept trying though and his work rate has to be admired. His fitness is of vital importance to the team and there's real worry for Arsenal fans every time he goes down.

The performance of Mathieu Flamini was yet again one to be admired as he did the dirty work others sometimes don't like to do. He's prepared to put his boot in and take a hit or a yellow card for the good of the team which is what us fans want to see. His free transfer just before the deadline is looking increasingly like a great piece of business by Arsenal.

If anything was to happen to Giroud then the chances are Nicklas Bendtner would be the man to benefit. He has shown before that he has the ability needed to play at the highest level, but his career has gone severely off track in the last few seasons. It could be a huge risk for Arsenal to depend on him to lead the line, but there is a chance it might just be the making of him.

The Arsenal bench had a stronger look to it than it has done in a while yesterday and there's a possibility of Tomas Rosicky returning for Tuesday night's game at home to 

Napoli. I can't see an awful lot of any change for that game and it is very important game for Arsenal. If they can win they will put themselves in a very strong position in their group after only two games. I'll look at that game a lot more closely in my preview in the next couple of days.

For the moment though it's great to see Arsenal sitting on the top of the league table with every other team looking up at them. Let's hope that's where they are in May when the trophies are handed out.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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