Arsenal 0 Swansea 2
Arsene Wenger was keen to distance himself from the Black Scarf Movement but he needn’t worry too much: they sound more like an obscure indie band than footballing revolutionaries about to bring down the status quo.
In any case it isn’t the Frenchman the BSM are keen to topple. Those who gathered outside the Emirates Stadium before this game — the Metropolitan Police say they numbered around the 2,000 mark — are unhappy with ‘Silent’ Stan Kroenke and the rest of the board for building them a super stadium, steadfastly divesting it of superstar players yet still charging supporters staggeringly high prices. Arsenal, let us not forget, is the home of the €17 fish and chip platter as well as the €2,400 season ticket...
The protesters, having walked rather than marched (more civilised, you see), sang songs that included the satirical “Stan Kroenke We Pay For Your Wig” and the plaintive “We’re Arsenal Till We’re Skint” to emphasise their point, which they believe can be summed up in one banner: Where has our Arsenal gone?
Which was exactly the question being asked about Wenger and his squad by the 57,000 other home fans after the final whistle, once they had finished booing, of course.
For this was no smash and grab raid by plucky underdogs who had their day. Yes, Swansea did have to defend deep at times, particularly in a 20-minute spell at the start of the second half. Both of their goals were netted on the counter-attack in the dying minutes but Michael Laudrup’s side enjoyed 56% of the possession and fired 10 shots to the home side’s eight.
Yes, Arsene, you were out-passed and outclassed on your own patch. When was the last time that occurred in the Premier League? The BSM insist they are not concerned about problems on the pitch but everyone else certainly is. To their credit, however, many of those who had booed at the end also applauded Swansea off the pitch.
“It was not good,” Wenger admitted afterwards. “I thought we were very jaded physically after Champions League games and two away games. We were not at the races at all. We looked laboured.”
So did the Gunners deserve their barracking? Just three wins in the last 10 Premier League home fixtures suggests so and the 5-2 thumping of Tottenham must seem like a year ago to the Frenchman rather than a fortnight.
“They are right,” he admitted. “You cannot be happy when you do not win the games. It is of course a concern because we have played more away than at home and it is important we win our home games. At the moment what we have produced is not convincing enough.”
Michael Laudrup knew the final whistle would inevitably spark inquests into Arsenal’s woes rather than eulogies to his side’s qualities and claimed that winning at the Emirates felt no sweeter than previous successes at Queens Park Rangers or Newcastle. But the reaction of Michu, the man who capped a flawless performance in a roving midfield role behind lone forward Itay Shechter with both goals, was more in line with the elation felt by the travelling fans.
“It was like a dream,” the Spaniard said. “The defence was good, in attack we had 12 attempts, so we were very good all through the team. The manager told us we were very good in the first half against West Brom, and that we could bring that performance here to Arsenal, and we did. I hope it continues like this. This team can go up and up.”
If it does, then it will do so from a current position of seventh place — three ahead of Arsenal, who now find themselves trailing West Ham and, of all people, Stoke City. And for those with value for money on their minds, let us consider the worth of Michu, who cost the Swans no more than €2.7m in the summer and now has 11 goals in 17 games in all competitions.
“I’m very happy we are on 23 points, but we need to keep it going,” he added.
“We have to keep the same attitude.”
The two sides meet again in the FA Cup in January. Arsenal’s season needs a serious transformation before that point.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Szczesny 7; Jenkinson 5, Mertesacker 5, Vermaelen 6, Gibbs 5; Wilshere 6 (Rosicky 79), Arteta 5; Walcott 4, Cazorla 6, Podolski 4 (Giroud 67, 6); Gervinho 4 (Oxlade-Chamberlain 66, 6).
Swansea City (4-4-1-1): Tremmel 7; Rangel 7, Williams 8, Flores 8, Davies 7; Dyer 7, Britton 8, Ki 7, de Guzman 7 (Tiendalli 74); Michu 9, Shechter 6 (Moore 67, 6).
Referee: M Clattenberg 7
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