Arsenal managed to overcome some barriers yesterday to record a big 2 - 0 win at the Liberty Stadium, which looks good next to Tottenham's 1 - 0 loss to Fulham today at White Hart Lane. What did we think was good, bad, and really really like "American Pie"-bad from yesterday?
-- The defenders holding on. Actually, the defending in general was good again yesterday, the occasional slip aside (as when Angel Rangel just waltzed on through the back four to get clean through on goal). Arsenal at times still seemed to want to do their "let's not press but let's play a high line anyway!" thing, but for the most part, they held it together and prevented any really good chances until Luke Moore's fluff a couple minutes from time.
-- Gervinho scoring. For all we rag on him here, and everywhere, he managed to take a somewhat sub-optimal Aaron Ramsey feed on the counter (see, we can't resist dumping on SOMEONE, even in the "good", can we) control it, and finish on target before the challenges arrived. It wasn't the crispiest finish past Vorm in some ways, but given that Gervinho is just as likely to smash it into the advertising boards from that spot as he is to get the shot on target, we'll take it. Plus, any boost to his confidence right now can only help the team out, and if that is what it takes for him to continue to get shots on target, well, that's fine.
-- Laurent Koscielny and Carl Jenkinson. I just kind of love knowing that if the opposition looks to spring a counter, even with someone like Nathan Dyer, that two of our back four can turn quickly and leave flames behind them to cut it off. I like speed.
-- The midfield being a little lost from time to time. Two of the three that worked hard against Bayern Munich came out, replaced by Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The former looked okay for periods but also misplaced pass after pass, and generally looked a little out of sync with his teammates, as well as perhaps a little not-match-fit. Swansea's midfield is clearly very good, and at times, they just passed through the Arsenal three as if they weren't really there. On the other hand, Mikel Arteta was his usual passing self, and Santi was really good from the no. 10 spot.
-- Olivier Giroud, not footloose or fancy-free. In general, his hold-up play and passing yesterday were not good. He has been playing quite a bit lately, and it might be starting to take its toll on him a little. Other teams, rightly sensing his danger, have basically been launching their center halves at him like mortars (e.g. Dante, Ashley Williams). Still, for all the increased attention and lack of quailty lay-offs, he played one or two passes yesterday (including that which sprung Ramsey on the fatal counter at the end) that were very surprising from a no. 9. That being said, maybe some nice wine over this international break will smooth him back down.
-- Really ill-advised, overly ambitious passes towards the center of the pitch. Jenkinson and the Ox come to mind here; really, generally, it's not a great idea to 1) not look up, 2) launch a 40-yard pass towards the center of the pitch from your own third, 3) watch it go right to Leon Britton or Pablo Hernandez, who're immediately on top of your defense, 4) wonder where it all went so wrong.
Other than that, finding more ugly would just be churlish. Good win yesterday.