Mar 16th, 2013 by 'holic
A mixed day for the English in South Wales ended with the Arsenal supporters enjoying their journey back across the bridges rather more than the rugby union fans. Aaron Ramsey in particular will be savouring the events of the day. The former Cardiff City player came on for the final twenty minutes at the Liberty Stadium with the score goal-less and played a key part in the Gunners clincher.
Arsenal started brightly and just five minutes in the recalled Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was denied an opener by the crossbar. Swansea have a well-earned reputation for playing the game the right way and it is no surprise that they too had a couple of half chances, but first Rangel and then Michu failed to hit the target. At the other end Santi Cazorla was denied by the excellent Vorm before the Ox struck the bar once again.
I had the advantage of watching a half decent stream made all the better by the lack of any commentary, just the noise of the crowd, most of which was coming from the magnificent travelling Gooners. I don’t know what the ‘professionals‘ were making of it, but my take was that the Ox was looking the liveliest player on the park in the opening half. Santi Cazorla too looked back to his most influential, but thereafter our most solid perfomers were in the back five.
A word for Abou Diaby who appeared to be getting some stick on social media sites. I totally understood that but I also have to feel for the big man who is still trying to get himself back up to the pace of the Premiership after so many lay-offs courtesy, I’m sure, of one diabolical Dan Smith challenge. He didn’t actually do much wrong, but his lack of urgency due to rustiness is giving people a rod to beat him with. Providing he steers clear of Twitter that seventy minutes this afternoon will not have harmed him.
The second half provided more of the same. In the end the stats will tell you Arsenal shaded all of the most important numbers, but with less than twenty minutes to go that looked like being scant consolation. The arrival of Gervinho and Rambo for the tiring Oxlade-Chamberlain and Diaby gave us an extra burst of energy. Before long we had the advantage that was so vital with Tottenham and Chelsea facing home matches tomorrow. Giroud took a couple of attempts to control a Cazorla cross and Nacho Monreal notched his first Arsenal goal with a deflected effort past Vorm.
The single goal margin could have caused more nerves on another day, but in time added on the Gunners were rewarded with a second, Gervinho applying the finish having been put clear by Ramsey. That was a great moment for a couple of players who have been rounded on at different points of the season.
After the final whistle Arsene Wenger summed up the importance of the result.
“We will know at the end of the season how important this win is, but we knew as well the win was absolutely vital for us…We kept going and refused to drop points. The players knew what was expected.”
This was on paper as tough an away fixture as remains for us. Just four are left, plus five at home. Doubtless there are twists and turns ahead as pressure builds, but for this weekend we have done all we can. Props to the manager and his players for that. We could ask no more.
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