Five things we learnt:
1.Campbell makes most of his chance
When Joel Campbell gets the ball, Joel Campbell’s first plan of action is to work out a way to shoot. If this involves dribbling past all of the players in his way then he’ll do that, if it requires a shot from 25 yards, he’ll do that too. Campbell is obviously eager to impress and prove he has the quality required of an Arsenal player – he tracked back well, which is a positive sign for a forward and his all round defensive work was excellent – but by trying to do it all himself in attack Campbell takes the focus away from the team and the team mentality is what has made Arsenal so strong this season. At 23 he still has (a bit of) time to learn how to use his obvious strengths at the right time, but right now Campbell isn’t quite there. He’d be the exciting flair player in a bottom of the table team, but every single one of Arsenal’s players are supposed to be able to dribble, pass and shoot – not just the best. His goal was well taken and he put in a huge amount of effort Campbell needs to take this chance and if this performance was anything to go by, he fully intends to.
2. Giroud should be Arsenal’s first-choice striker
Avoidable, regrettable injuries to Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left Arsenal looking a bit weak in depth going forward last week in their defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, and Arsene Wenger must have had a non-Halloween related fright when Olivier Giroud went down clutching his knee late in the first half. Arsenal’s title push is always usually only one injury away from trouble and fortunately the striker recovered. Giroud’s ability to find space in the Swansea box was rewarded with a goal, which he took well after losing his marker at a set piece. There’s still a feeling that he could do more a chance Giroud punted over the bar in the first half had the Frenchman yelling at himself for not concentrating but Giroud’s link up play, the danger he poses from crosses and at set pieces and his consistent scoring, makes him more difficult to deal with than Theo Walcott, who might find it difficult to get back in the team when he recovers.
3. Monk may not have much more time at Swansea
The threat of Garry Monk losing his job hasn’t really been discussed since he became Swansea manager because he’s always been quite good at it. Swansea play fine football and haven’t stared relegation in the face but the teams around them in the table last season all strengthened significantly in the summer and it doesn’t look like the short passing game the Swans play at the moment is causing anyone any real problems – apart from the glaring one on one that Bafetimbis Gomis conspired to waste, Swansea offered little going forward. Does Garry Monk have a Plan B? And if not, how long will the Swansea faithful (and board) be happy with mid-table mediocrity?
4. Cech’s presence alone is enough to prevent goals
Lukasz Fabianski’s inability to take the ball out of the air for Laurent Koscielny’s goal makes Arsene Wenger’s decision to sign that Petr Cech guy look like it really may have been the only transfer he needed to make. Fabianski has been excellent for Swansea but as we see almost every week, it is the finest of margins which decide Premier League games. At the other end, Cech’s sheer presence in goal was enough to put Bafetimbis Gomis off as he ran clear of the defence with only the keeper to beat. Cech held his run, stood tall and forced the striker wide, allowing his defenders time to sprint back and clear. From set pieces he commanded the area absolutely – always in the right place at the right time – and looks to have an understanding of what the defence in front of him will actually at any given moment now. The confidence the team must have knowing that Cech is in charge at the back means that the nerves don’t start flaring up the minute they come under any sustained pressure. Less nerves equals better decision making, which means less goals conceded.
5. Wilshere will struggle to get back in this team
The entire of Arsenal’s team has hit form at the same time and if it continues up to the next international break, they will more than likely be a few points clear at the top of the table. It’s deserved too – Santi Cazorla is a joy to watch, Mesut Ozil is playing like a world champion, Alexis Sanchez is almost unstoppable and that Arsenal back four (with Cech as the fifth) is something special. The key is that the team knows when to attack and when to defend – for too long they’ve fallen apart and made terrible decisions at stupid times. Jack Wilshere has been involved in far too many of these situations in the past and with Ozil owning the number 10 position and the balance that Coquelin and Cazorla creates – there really is no room for him once he recovers from injury (and gets injured again) later in the year. How he reacts to the challenge might shape the rest of his career – at the moment he’s a squad player, and someone who wants to start for England can’t do that for entire seasons.