Final- Arsenal 0 - Swansea 1
In the first half, I felt Arsenal wasn’t dangerous enough in their attack. They maintained dominance in possession throughout the half but hardly challenged Fabianski at all. In order to break down Swansea and be more dangerous I thought they could have done several things. First, is to shoot a bit more. Ozil and Ramsey for me are still hesitant much of the time and always look to pass first. Once inside 25 yards, they should be thinking how can I get this ball on net? Their approach can be contrasted to Sanchez who is always trying to score. If you show the defense that you are willing to shoot, they are forced to step and come out of their shell a bit. Secondly, they need to play a bit more quickly when in possession. Quickly meaning 1 touch passes. A lot of their build-up was slow and allowed Swansea to keep their shape. Third would be to look to play in behind Swansea when Swansea’s backline has been drawn out. Much of the time Swansea defending deep, but on the occasions when Swansea’s backline was pushed up, Arsenal could exploit them by quickly playing a runner in behind right after winning it.
For the first 20 minutes Swansea couldn’t get possession further up the field. You kind of felt for them a bit because although Arsenal weren’t threatening, they were simply too good at keeping the ball from their opposition. Swansea played a couple of long dangerous diagonal ball into space and if they connected they could have been terrific plays. But, long periods of no possession meant that they kept getting pinned back in own half and were forced to defend deep. The deeper you defend, the better you have to be on the counter-attack if you want to score.
For me it was pretty clear that Swansea was missing target center-forward. They needed someone who could be strong and hold-up the play for them when they did win the ball in their own half.
In the second, a somewhat unlikely story unfolded. Arsenal absolutely squandered two golden opportunities in the 77th minute! Back to back shots went right at Fabianski. And Swansea responded with goal by Gomis in the 85th minute that was just enough to win the game. A lot of credit in this game should go to the discipline of the Swansea players and the changes made by Gary Monk. It is very difficult to sit in for a full game and absorb pressure against a team like Arsenal. It can be very mentally and physically draining, especially when you aren’t accustomed to playing like this. However, the players were disciplined and fought through it. Also, Gary Monk made great changes by brining on Gomis and Ashley Richards. Many times when a team decides to settle and finish the game conservatively, the manager will negate all attacking options they once had earlier. However, Monk made changes that still allowed them to have some threat going forward. This missing center forward that they did not have in the first half ended up being the difference maker!