Miguel Michu’s late, destructive double sparked chaotic scenes at the Emirates, and only confirmed what we have suspected for some time – Arsenal FC are in crisis.
It is not just that this is their worst start to a Premier League season under Arsene Wenger, a measly 21 points leaving them in 10th spot.
More worrying, there is little to suggest that the Gunners’ downward spiral will stop soon. Not unless Wenger breaks the habit of a lifetime and splashes out heavily in the January transfer window.
Wenger – salary £7.5million – saw his overelaborate plans taken apart by a player – price tag £2.2m – few had heard of at the start of the season.
“He’ll always be a bargain whatever the price because goals give you points and he has scored 10 in 15 league games,” said satisfied Michael Laudrup.
First, Michu’s languid left boot dispatched the ball casually beyond Wojciech Szczesny, the home defence undone by a simple one-two with Luke Moore. Carl Jenkinson was then robbed of possession while running towards his own goal. Nathan Dyer fed Michu, with no other Arsenal player in sight.
The following seconds were so surreal that we might have been witnessing a training ground one-on-one. There was only going to be one winner – and it was not Szczesny. Michu has 11 goals so far and what a bargain he looks.
Wenger unzipped his coat, just as his defence had been so casually undone, and endured foul-mouthed abuse from home fans.
Many had already left, but those who stayed applauded off their opponents. Arsenal were not afforded such generosity and had mostly been jeered to the tunnel.
Without a focal point for their attack until the introduction of Olivier Giroud, Arsenal were too intricate in their attacking, and many final passes were inaccurate.
And then there was the lack of conviction, summed up in the first half when Michu was allowed to fall over, stick out a leg while lying on the grass, and pass to a team-mate.
“We were not good, we were laboured, not sharp, we lacked quality today,” admitted Wenger. It could have been even worse had it not been for captain Thomas Vermaelen. With a single header, Michu split ArsenalÕs defence and Nathan Dyer was clean through. But Vermaelen dashed across with an astonishing goal-saving tackle.
Before that, Szczesny was also forced into a double save from Angel Rangel.
There was a moment when Theo Walcott failed to control a Santi Cazorla pass and Wenger stamped his feet like a truculent child, his body already doubled up.
Wenger tried and failed to raise the tempo, and his side’s first-half fortunes were summed up by Gervinho’s header on goal – which bobbled to the corner flag instead. How the crowd booed at half-time.
Arsenal came to life in spells during the second half, but they did not have what it takes to score when a team are not playing well.
Jack Wilshere fed Cazorla, who shot straight at Gerhard Tremmel, just as he had headed at the keeper before the break. Even a Cazorla volley – saved again by Tremmel – had been teed up by a Swansea head. The warning signs were there for Arsenal. Itay Shechter’s shot was deflected just wide, and Rangel fired into the side-netting. Swansea fans thought their team had scored. They did not have long to wait.
“Maybe we should have made a 0-0 but we lacked caution,” admitted Wenger. “We tried to change things, took a lot of risks and things turned. Swansea deserved to win. It’s very disappointing but it’s the truth.”
Laudrup said: “We weren’t under any pressure and we knew Arsenal were under pressure because they needed a win. They have good players but they faced a good team. Possession, direct football, counter-attack – sometimes you need all three and we can do it all.”
“Swans will tear you apart,” sang the visiting fans before Michu’s ‘double tap’ execution. They did just that and on this evidence Wenger will struggle to stop the rot with the blunt tools currently at his disposal.
If ever a top club needed to spend and inject new vigour into a lifeless squad, it is Arsenal next month. - Daily Mail