Tuesday 11th November 2014
Before we travelled down to South Wales on Sunday every single Gooner I spoke to or read on social media expressed how much of a tough game they felt we had on our hands, especially given our current form hasn’t been exactly encouraging. That would suggest to me that we all knew there was a chance we might get beat. As the dust settles a little on all the anger, frustration and disappointment we all felt, I also think we were a tad unlucky to come away with nothing from the game.
If October went down as one of the warmest on record, the beginning of November suggests it could be a wet one! It didn’t appear that Sunday would be a good example when we set off, in fact it wasn’t until we got just a few miles from Swansea that the heavens opened. And conditions proved pretty wild for the rest of the day, the storm accompanying some of our journey home matching most of us Gooners’ emotions with its intensity.
Our memories of trips to this part of the world are pretty good overall, plenty of unbelievable times in Cardiff down the years and only one defeat from our four most recent visits to the home of the Jacks. For much of Sunday afternoon’s encounter it looked like we might be adding to those satisfactory memories.
Analysis, opinion and debate are very much part of our wonderful sport and along with the fact we all make great managers, we are never going to agree on all fronts! For me we need to separate our thoughts about what happened on Sunday afternoon with the overall bigger picture.
What do I mean by that?
Well, at the moment it is plainly obvious we are leaking goals left right and centre. Once again, if our opponents hadn’t scored we would have come away with the three points. Our current plight totally highlights the fact our business in the Summer transfer window may well have been hugely positive offensively but did not address the worries we all had regarding our defensive strength in depth. We needed additions, not replacements. Bac went off for his crazy paid benchwarming pension at Man City, we replaced him with Mat Debuchy. Tommy V headed off to Barcelona after not really getting a look in last season, we replaced him with a young and extremely promising Calum Chambers. Replacements, not additions. In addition, that defensive midfield position needed adding to. We could all see that unless another member of our squad could step up to the plate and make that position his own, we would struggle, especially if missing players through injury or suspension.
Injuries to players in all defensive areas have happened this season. As frustrating as that is, it is fact. And the above not being addressed in the Summer is being highlighted massively as a result. To be fair to our manager, although we have a right to criticise, he has publically admitted he came out of the transfer window ‘short’ and as he can do nothing about it until January I’m not sure what else he can say. He cannot go back and change that situation.
Moving to Sunday, why do I think we were a little unlucky? Our hosts were the better side in all but the last 5 or 10 minutes in the first period. Overall however, I felt we were defensively quite solid, were strong at set pieces and the best chances of the whole half fell to us just before the break. To have been second best for most of the first 45, to go in at half time level was pleasing and encouraging, as long as of course, we came more into the game in the second.
From the moment Ox had a great chance in the first minute after the break, we enjoyed our best half an hour of the game. We looked in control, our passing was better, Swansea rarely threatened and we created numerous dangerous situations. Alexis’ goal after another fine run from the Ox and and some excellent work from Welbs was reward for this period of domination.
And now, for me, the unlucky bit. At this time our hosts didn’t look like scoring. They broke and Gibbo did something that we would all probably praise if we watched a game live on the tv between two teams that mean nothing to us. He took one for the team to thwart a promising counter attack. Nine times out of ten 30 yard free kicks end up coming to nothing. Did that happen on Sunday? Of course not! The geezer produced a ‘worldy’. Not just frustrating but game changing. Given both our current form and the fact Calum had endured his most ‘difficult’ afternoon since becoming a Gooner, we needed just a few minutes to regroup. The second goal coming so soon after was as annoying as it seemed inevitable.
After going behind we continued to probe with promising situations and corners all proving fruitless. The fact we could and probably should have scored with our very last kick of the game pretty much summed it all up.
I’m not sure if I feel the international break has come at a good time or not on this occasion. We certainly need to lick our wounds, knuckle down and come back stronger in the tough games that follow. And we can only do that until January at least with the squad we have got, the players we have available and with us sticking together and getting behind every single one wearing the cannon on their chest.
Or of course, we can all just keep moaning like so so many of us seem to enjoy so much. Something for me personally, certainly once debate and opinion immediately after a game has finished, I just can’t get my head around.
Victoria Concordia Crescit