Date: 9th November 2014 at 9:51pm
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Swans are a protected species but even in their football form they only briefly looked to be in any danger in this game. We were pretty subdued in the first half, fearful of making a mistake that would have us chasing the game early on. It took until the 44th minute before we were able fashion a move that we might have recognised as the creative attacking style we’re seeking to find. Sanchez fed Welbeck and a swift exchange of passes with Ox brought Welbeck the chance that Fabianski saved well.

Before then we’d more or less jogged through the first half playing slowly and cautiously. Perhaps patiently, which may have been the intention, but without the vigour and pace that would have provided Swansea with any real test. Our conservative approach just seemed to give encouragement to the opposition and with Chambers struggling against Montero they were given the incentive to probe that right channel to good effect all game long. Chambers has been great this season but I doubt that we expected he would play so much football so early on.

Any club working on a self sustaining principle and nurturing young players will have to give them playing time in order for them to develop but while the experience will ultimately serve him well Chambers is finding little time to reflect on parts of his game that need improvement before being pitched back into the fray once more. Investing in young players is a core aspect of the way Arsenal is run and players like Gibbs, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere and the like have all had their critics, and still do, while developing into top class players that can serve the club well. Being able to rest them, to learn by watching others, has to be part of that process but Chambers isn’t afforded that luxury at present.

Much of the responsibility for that will be laid on the altar of the transfer window as will the deployment of Monreal at CB. So far though it seems to me that the Spanish left back has played as credibly in that position as we’ve seen from Vermaelen in recent times. Much will be made of playing those without recognisable labels in positions that seem to correspond to those labels but our first double as far back as 1971 came with a centre back pairing made up of a central midfielder and a wide left wing back utility player. The problem isn’t with players out of position, good ones adapt, it’s with too many changes in too many positions made at the same time. A new right back and centre back recruit wouldn’t really have helped that too much no matter how attractive the proposition might seem.

Our most exciting new face is Alexis but as exciting as he is he was also part of the problem today. In recent games where we’ve performed a little better and gained credible results he seemed to have solved a tendency to give the ball away with errant passing. Prior to the Chelsea game he struggled to reach pass completion of 70% but until the Anderlecht game he’d managed better than 80%. In the last CL outing he was back down to 73% and poorer yet at 70% in this game. Given what he seems to give us in terms of goals and industry does that matter? In the way we seek to play yes it does. Particularly playing in that free ‘No. 10’ role keeping possession, not giving the ball away is a key part of the job specification. The more often teams are allowed to break on us the more chance, even if only on the law of averages, that they’ll create a goal scoring opportunity. It was one such instance that obliged Gibbs to concede the free kick, well taken as it was, which got the Swans back into the game.

With Ox seemingly providing our most potent threat driving forward but also culpable of conceding possession a little too often and adding to Chamber`s travails despite determined effort to recover the ball, we were unable to put Swansea under any sustained pressure. Ox is also a young talent maturing quickly and learning on the job. At some point he’ll find those driving runs that he does so well can be more rewarding when he can start most of them in the attacking third. For that to happen he’ll have to spend less time chasing back to recover. If Alexis is to hold down that central role he must reach a level of retention consistency that doesn’t take away as much as he gives us.

The much maligned Cazorla, maligned mainly on the strength of a couple of skied goal attempts in recent games, misplaced just one pass giving a completion rate of 97%, created three goal scoring attempts but managed only one shot – though it was on target! If the rest of the midfield had reached similar levels maybe the outcome would have been more favourable.

We’ve had disappointing sequences of results before, we’ll have them again I’m sure but for now Wenger will have to pick them up again and somehow find a midfield formula that works. At present without Ozil and Arteta to call on it seems a fragile enough task but even with them fully fit joining up all the pieces effectively in what is really quite a good squad now doesn’t look to be straightforward.