Swansea 3-2 Arsenal: Daily Mirror match report
Published 22:02 15/01/12 By John Cross
Do not listen to the excuses.
Arsene Wenger was beaten at his own game as Swansea gave Arsenal a football lesson.
City outpassed, outfought and outmanoeuvred the Gunners in a superb win that should be about their strengths as well as the visitors’ frailties.
We could be here all day discussing Arsenal’s weaknesses. Defensively they were a shambles, picked apart time and again by Swansea’s brilliant passing game.
It was a victory celebrated by home fans as if they had won the league. Considering nine years ago Arsenal were top of the Premier League and Swansea bottom of the Football League they were entitled to celebrate.
Wenger has only himself to blame, not the penalty decision, pitch or fixture congestion.
Look at the failure to sign cover at full-back for the sake of a few weeks’ wages. For a club like Arsenal, it is unforgivable to have centre-backs filling in at full-back. Surprise, surprise, they were completely exposed.
Nathan Dyer embarrassed Ignasi Miquel time and again down the flank in a man-of-the-match performance that can only have left Fabio Capello hugely impressed on his first trip to Swansea.
He showed enough pace, trickery and movement to give the England boss something to think about. He scored, won a dubious penalty and his movement will give Per Mertesacker nightmares for weeks.
Arsenal were second best in every department. Even Thierry Henry, coming on as a second-half substitute, could not save them this time. It was a result which will define Swansea’s season – and Arsenal’s.
Wenger is missing big players – among them Jack Wilshere, Bacary Sagna and Mikel Arteta. But they are not good enough, consistent enough or solid enough to finish in the top four.
Arsenal had good spells, but not enough. They started brightly and took a fifth-minute lead through Robin van Persie. Andrey Arshavin’s brilliant pass released van Persie, who sold Steven Caulker a dummy before firing past Michel Vorm.
That might have been the cue for Swansea to lose confidence but Brendan Rodgers’ men are made of sterner stuff.
They stuck to their football principles, proving it is possible to play attractive football whatever the resources. Swansea have plenty of purveyors of the beautiful game, with Dyer, Scott Sinclair, Leon Britton and Joe Allen passing and moving brilliantly.
It was Dyer who was at the centre of Swansea’s equaliser. He turned in the box, Ramsey put a foot in to challenge and referee Michael Oliver gave a penalty. TV replays suggested Dyer caught Ramsey. Sinclair stepped up and converted the kick.
Arsenal managed the odd counter-attack – van Persie had another shot blocked by Vorm – but were largely defending and on 58 minutes Ramsey was dispossessed by Joe Allen. He found Dyer who beat Wojciech Szczesny from the edge of the box.
Arsenal brought on Henry and Tomas Rosicky and were level on 69 minutes. Johan Djourou released Theo Walcott to race clear and chip Vorm.
But the Gunners conceded a minute later. Possession was lost, Koscielny was caught out of position and Danny Graham pounced.