Arsenal Player Analysis: Swansea vs Arsenal

A bad performance and outcome for Arsenal who appeared to adopt a 2-4-4 formation despite being setup in a notional 4-3-3 prematch.

Jan 18 Swansea vs Arsenal

Jan 18 Swansea vs Arsenal(1)

While Arsenal dominated possession in the match (74% to Swansea’s 26%) it was yet another match where Arsenal’s passing was purposeless and the Gunners lacked of any form of defensive strategy to actively recover possession of the ball when it was ceded (trademarks of Wenger’s tactical approach or lack there of over the past decade).

In terms of individual performances:

GK: Cech
It was a howler from Cech for Swansea’s second goal but apart from that he was solid as usual both in terms of his shot stopping and aerial dominance.

RWB: Bellerin
A very quiet day defensively for Bellerin (0 tackles and 0 interceptions) as his opponent Olsson failed to really contribute offensively (2 attempted and inaccurate crosses for the match and no forward dribbles). Offensively, Bellerin showed good intent with his crossing (4 attempts for the match) but his accuracy again let him down (0 accurate crosses) and he failed to trouble Swansea’s defence via the dribble (0 forward dribbles for the match). With Arsenal selling Debuchy, Wenger has successfully managed to rid Bellerin of any internal competition at right fullback, despite the Spaniard’s repeated poor performances in the position.

RCB: Koscielny
A challenging day defensively for Koscielny who turned in a poor defensive performance (1 tackle and 1 interception) against his opponent Clucas (2 goals and 2 out of 3 shots on target). That said, Koscielny was frequently left stranded in defence as Wenger’s refusal to implement any sort of coordinated defensive strategy, burnt Laurent once again. He was strong aerially with 4 successful aerial duels.

LCB: Mustafi
A sensational tackling display from Mustafi (5 tackles) who did well to largely contain the impressive Ayew (1 goal, 1 out of 3 shots on target, 3 successful forward dribbles). Despite his excellent tackling effort, his defensive positioning was poor (0 interceptions) That said, the German, like Koscielny, was frequently exposed by a lack of defensive screening by Arsenal’s midfield. Mustafi was very strong aerially with 7 successful aerial duels.

LWB: Monreal
A strong tackling display from Monreal (3 tackles), though his defensive positioning was at times questionable (1 interception). He largely contained his opponent Dyer, who struggled (1 shot on target from his 1 attempt on goal, 1 dribble and 1 accurate cross from his 2 attempts). Offensively, he scored another goal with a well timed run and was very impressive with his crossing (2 accurate crosses from his 6 attempts). My only criticism of Monreal was his lack of penetration via the dribble (0 successful forward dribbles).

CDM: Elneny
A relatively quiet day defensively for Elneny (0 tackle and 1 interceptions) as his opponent Ki struggled to exert any influence on the game (1 off target shot from 1 attempt, 0 successful through passes and 0 successful forward dribbles). That said, Elneny again failed to place his opponent under any pressure when they did take possession of the ball and he failed to appropriately protect Arsenal’s central defenders. Offensively, Elneny’s passing accuracy was perfect, but his range of passing (1 accurate long passes out of 1 attempt and no attempted through passes) was very poor.

RCM: Xhaka
Another underwhelming defensive performance from Xhaka, who had a couple of nice interceptions (2) but his defensive intensity and tackling effort was poor (0 tackles) and he failed to put Swansea’s midfield under any pressure when they did have the ball. Offensively, Xhaka’s passing accuracy (94%) was exceptional as was his long range passing (5 accurate long range passes out of 5 attempts) but he again failed to offer anything in terms of forward dribbles or creative passing (no attempted through passes). He also showed minimal goal scoring intent with only the 1 off target effort for the match.

LCM: Ramsey
A poor all round defensive effort from Ramsey on his return to the side (0 tackles and 1 interceptions). While Arsenal dominated possession, Ramsey failed to put enough pressure on his opponent Fer who, with 1 shot on target, 2 successful forward dribbles, 2 out of 5 accurate long passes and 1 attempted through pass, did exert some influence on the game. Offensively, while Ramsey’s passing accuracy (88%) was excellent, he only produced 1 off target shot from 1 attempt for the match, had no forward dribbles and failed to attempt any through passes. A poor display from the Welshman.

RFW: Lacazette
Playing in more of a inside forward role on the right rather than a centre forward role, Lacazette really struggled (0 attempts on goal
and no dribbles) as the likes of Bellerin, Xhaka and Ramsey, in particular, failed to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for the Frenchman. The way in which Wenger is grossly misusing Lacazette is depriving Arsenal of a player who has exceptional (and proven) finishing qualities.

CF: Ozil
A mixed performance from Ozil who again took up more of a centre forward role than that of a central attacking midfielder. To that end, while his passing accuracy was excellent (94%) and he tried hard to create clear cut goal scoring opportunities for others (2 accurate through passes from 3 attempts), resulting in an assist for Monreal’s goal, Ozil only had 1 shot on goal for the match and only 1 successful forward dribble.

FWL : Iwobi
A solid performance from Iwobi who recorded 1 shot on target from his 2 attempts and had 2 successful forward dribbles.

I’m praying that Arsenal’s recent recruitment of Mislintat, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang are all signs that Thomas Tuchel is going to replace Wenger at season’s end.

For me, that can’t come soon enough as what is fundamentally behind Arsenal’s depressing slid into mid table mediocrity is Wenger’s lack of a clear and pragmatic vision of:

  • how the team are going to regularly create clear goal scoring opportunities;
  • how the team are going to recover possession from the opposition; and
  • how to accentuate the strengths of each player in the team and mitigate their individual weaknesses.

Without that vision, the quality of Arsenal’s on field performances will continue to be poor, irrespective of what players the club recruits.


The stats and images referenced in this post are sourced from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: