On a pivotal weekend for the Premier League’s top six, Arsenal travelled to Swansea in a must-win game. The Gunners came up against a lively first-half challenge but a deflated second-half performance in Wales whereby Olivier Giroud scored once again. Although a seemingly easy game, it was yet another challenge to overcome for Wenger’s men against somewhat of a bogey team. Here are the four things we learned:
1. Giroud is Wenger’s Plan A
Arsenal needed to put in a solid performance and take the three points in Wales in order to stay in the title race. The manager’s selection for such vital games speaks volumes of the players earning their starting berth. Giroud found himself as the focal point of Arsenal’s attack, while Sanchez was once again shifted to the wing. Despite starting only four games for the Gunners in recently the Frenchman has now scored in each of his starts and it seems as though he has finally taken the starting striker role ahead of Sanchez.
2. Iwobi’s Persistence
With Giroud starting as Arsenal’s striker, Sanchez is guaranteed to be placed on the left wing leaving the right vacant due to Walcott’s injury. Alex Iwobi was trusted with starting on the right wing as he now finds himself starting ahead of Lucas and Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The 20-year old has put in a string of inconsistent performances, however. the Nigerian repaid Wenger’s faith by having a hand in both of Swansea’s own goals. With tireless running, a positive attitude and the willingness to get involved in any possible way, Iwobi has all the ingredients and makings of an Arsenal regular. If he can score more and put together a run of more consistent performances he may find himself starting more and more often.
3. Sanchez’s Attitude
￼￼￼￼Following the comeback at Bournemouth, it seemed as though the primary focus was on Alexis and his dissatisfaction with the result. Wenger dismissed all concern stating it was normal for Sanchez wanting to win. However, the Swansea game saw a disgruntled Sanchez depart the pitch for his substitution, gazing up only to acknowledge Welbeck before seating himself away from the Gunners bench. Questions will be asked and allegations will be made, however, the primary focus should be on the Chilean’s game impact rather than his reactions to certain scenarios. Eagerness to win or petulance? That’s up for debate.
4. Gunners Put Game to Bed
Arsenal have found themselves in a Premier League drought in the last few games – failing to secure a win in three consecutive away ties. The main concern from those matches was the Gunners’ inability to see out the 90 minutes after either starting comfortably or getting themselves back into the game. Against Swansea, however, Giroud’s goal was followed by a barrage of shots towards former Gunner Fabianski. The persistence paid off and saw Iwobi help the ball in twice, while Sanchez scored a seemingly inevitable goal to put Arsenal above Liverpool on goal difference for the time being. The ability to put games to bed is vital for a legitimate title charge, and Wenger’s men showed exactly that today.
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