Arsene Wenger made three changes from the game on Sunday with Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck dropping to the bench and Laurent Koscielny missing out through injury. Joel Campbell, Olivier Giroud and Per Mertesacker came into the team and I was more than a little surprised to see Welbeck miss out. I suppose he might have been a little fatigued as he's only just back from a long term injury and it could have been a risk to play from the start again.
Arsenal hardly set the world alight from the start, but they made the breakthrough when Campbell got on the end of a great ball from Alexis Sanchez after only 15 minutes and finished excellently into the corner. They had the opportunity from there to go on and add a few goals to close the gap at the top and bolster their goal difference too. They didn't take that chance though as their intensity dropped off and they slipped into auto pilot.
It seemed like the players already thought the game was over and decided they had done enough for the day. They gradually got sloppier as time went by and it wasn't really a surprise when Swansea equalised. There was a definitely a foul on Mesut Ozil before the goal, but Arsenal didn't play the whistle and failed to mark their men at the back.
Things got even worse after the break as Arsenal continued to misfire and Swansea got more adventurous in attack. With 15 minutes to go a free kick was whipped in and Petr Cech failed to deal with it as an offside Ashley Williams bundled the ball into the net although he didn't know an awful lot about it. Arsenal still had 15 minutes to try to rescue something from the game, but they mustered virtually nothing after that goal.
You could say they were a little unlucky as both Seansea goals could and probably should have been ruled out and Arsenal hit the woodwork three times. There might be some truth in their hard luck story, but they didn't do enough over the 90 minutes to deserve a victory. It's hard to understand how or why they played so badly and we can only hazard a guess.
To me it almost looks like the players aren't playing for the boss and it's quite possibly that he has lost the dressing room. It might not be as deep as that though and it could just simply be the players don't have the mental strength to cope when the pressure is on them. It's hard to know what the cause is and the answer is a probably a mix of a few factors.
One thing is for sure though and that is the team are not playing well and are devoid of confidence. They are incapable of controlling the pace of a game and are lacklustre at best when they're going forward. The lack of concentration at times is quite incredible and the inability to carry out any sort of game plan is evident in virtually every game.
Some of the manager's decisions didn't help at all and the withdrawal of Campbell was met with a chorus of boos. The fans weren't unhappy with Welbeck coming on, but they were far from happy with Arsenal's best player on the night getting taken off. I've often said that there is a perceived picking order at the club and Campbell is almost always the first player to be withdrawn when a sub is introduced.
The introduction of Walcott for Alexis was another puzzling decision considering Walcott's abject performance on Sunday. Akexis may have given the ball away more times than is healthy, but he did hit the woodwork twice and he made the goal too.
Lukas Fabianski had to pull off some magnificent saves against Spurs on Sunday, but he had to do no such thing last night. Besides picking the ball out of the net on one occasion he was rarely called upon and never had to make a top class save. He did watch the ball come back off the woodwork on three occasions, but none of them even count as shots on target.
The commentator asked at the start of the game would it be a "title showdown" or a "title meltdown" for Arsenal and the players answered in a definitive way. It appears we are in full meltdown and in the worst shape possible heading to White Hart Lane on Saturday. A win in that game would completely change our perspective on how the season might go, but it's surely beyond a team playing as badly as Arsenal.
We will go into that game without Koscielny and it looks like Petr Cech will miss out too after injuring himself as he tried to sprint back from the late corner for which he had gone forward. We also have an attack which has forgotten how to score goals as both Giroud and Walcott are struggling for any sort of form. The team is disjointed and don't play like a team or have the ability to control a game and they're playing a team who play for each other from first minute to last.
I can't see Arsenal winning the league at this stage and not because it's an impossible task statistically, but because they just aren't playing well enough. There's no cohesion, no pace, no control and no confidence in the way they play and it doesn't look like changing. There's only 10 league games to go and their fight could end up being their annual one for a top four finish rather than the one fir the title which they should be involved in.
The questions were being asked of the manager after the game last night as they were his players out there. He failed to properly address the issues in his squad in the last two transfer windows and we're now paying the price. The tide really seems to have turned against him and the boos at the final whistle were for him as much as the players.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.