Jury still out over international midfielder: Three things we learned about Arsenal in win v Swansea
COMMENT By Matt Farr
Football Insider analyses three talking points from Arsenal’s comfortable 4-0 victory over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium in the Premier League on Saturday.
Arsenal gave the perfect response
The Gunners began the game in fifth-place in the Premier League, already eight points behind leaders Chelsea, and needed a victory to stay in contention for the title. Arsenal didn’t put in the best of performances against Bournemouth or Preston in their last two outings, and last week’s 3-3 draw against the former saw rivals Tottenham take their place in the top-four. Spurs also set the pace for the weekend, thrashing West Brom 4-0 in the early kick-off, strengthening their grip on the top-four. Arsenal simply cannot finish behind Tottenham, and had to match them with a convincing result. Swansea could consider themselves slightly unlucky with some of the goals, but Arsenal were very good. They needed that kind of a performance to silence the recent critics, and they can now hope that both Liverpool and Manchester City slip-up so that they can remain in the top-four.
Jury still out on international midfielder
Injuries have hit Arsenal hard in the midfield department recently, and with Mohamed Elneny also absent for the Africa Cup of Nations, Arsene Wenger has been left with just two real options – Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. However, since a storming 2013-14 campaign, Ramsey has since failed to really light up the Premier League stage. The criticism continues to fly the way of the Wales international midfielder, and despite an improved display against Swansea, it is clear that there is still a lot of work to do to win back the Arsenal faithful. He gave a very good performance in the second-half, where Arsenal really stepped it up a gear. But he needs to be able to perform like that consistently, and with him likely to feature a great deal in the coming weeks, will be under immense pressure. Far from his potent best, but a big improvement.
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Alexis Sanchez a frustrated figure
His performance on the field may not have suggested any negativity within the Arsenal camp with regards to Alexis Sanchez, but the Chile international did seem a little frustrated yet again. He was visibly upset at the manner of their performance against Bournemouth in their last Premier League game, while he looked rather dejected once more when Arsene Wenger withdrew him with just over ten minutes to go. In fairness to Wenger, the game was won, and substitute Danny Welbeck needed time on the field to boost his return to full match fitness. But Sanchez never likes being substituted off. He does work very hard for his team, but he has been pushed back into a wide role following the return of Olivier Giroud as their central man. When Giroud went off, Sanchez returned to the role he has excelled in this season, but was later withdrawn himself, when he clearly wanted to make the most of his time back in the position. It by no means looks quite like a Dimitri Payet scenario, where Sanchez does not want to play for the club anymore; there is no real concern yet. But with the current uncertainty regarding his long-term future and new contract, Arsenal must hope that things don’t escalate out of control.
In other Arsenal news, here is how the Arsenal players rated during the victory.