Swansea 1 Arsenal 2: A very Arsenal goal
I spent Saturday at a wedding. This report comes from Goodplaya correspondent Nico Hines.
TOP OF THE LEAGUE
We’re top, a couple of points clear of second place and eight points above Manchester United; in fact, we have more than twice as many points as United. After the start we’ve had to the last few seasons, you have to say: it’s great fun.
Swansea seemed to think it was wise to keep the game tight and go in at half-time level. Disappointingly, after a week of rest for most of the players, we appeared happy enough to oblige. Gnabry provided the only real moment of quality when he drove towards goal and laid on a great chance for Olivier Giroud, the effort was dragged wide but it was an impressive burst of pace and skill from the 18-year-old.
When Gnabry was given a similar opportunity in the second half, he showed Giroud exactly how to do it and steered his shot into the far corner. The teenager played 120 minutes on Wednesday night and was making his third start in six days. In truth, he was far from scintillating for most of the game but scoring the opener and creating that chance for Giroud were enough to raise one of those rare Wenger smiles in the post-match interview. The boss seems to think he’s got a real talent on his hands.
The second goal was absolutely spectacular – one of those moves that has you off your seat long before the ball hits the roof of the net. That giddy mixture of flicks and over-elaboration was a most fitting tribute for Wenger’s 17th anniversary and Aaron Ramsey got another chance to shhhh a crowd that had been taunting him. Once again he finished man of the match, amazing to think he’s still only 22.
We’re not bossing possession at the moment. Marseilles, Stoke and Swansea all had periods where they seemed to be keeping the ball better than us in midfield. We’ve got away with it but Wenger won’t be happy. Flamini has been excellent since returning to the team, but I expect him to drop to the bench as soon as Arteta is fully fit. It’ll be fascinating to see if we immediately regain our stranglehold on the possession stats.
KEEPING IT UP
Are you an optimist or a pessimist? On one hand, we haven’t played many top teams yet, this Ramsey hot streak cannot continue forever and we’re still just one injury away from Nicklas Bendtner. On the other hand, the team-spirit appears to be at its best for years, Wilshere will get better, the back-four looks settled and we’ve still got Walcott, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla to come. Add another striker in January and this could be a memorable season.