Happy endings aren’t what Arsenal is about this season, but at least realizing that Lukas Podolski still has the ability to score a goal here and there was the best news to come out of their FA Cup draw.
Well, maybe there are “bigger” better news to hang on to. The first half, for both teams that were playing at Liberty Stadium, was scrapped and forgotten. Those 45 minutes that make fans wonder why they left the comforts of their own home on a chilly day, as two teams that didn’t look like they wanted to be there simply passed the time away.
Second half was completely different, and four goals came as retribution. Arsenal might not have come out with a ticket to the next round, now having to face Swansea at the Emirates, a place where Michu scored two late goals to grab a win less than two months ago, but their second half ability is certainly something to cherish. Offensively, not defensively.
Arsene Wenger keeps insisting on using Aaron Ramsey as a winger, and keeps getting bad performances from the talented Welshman for it. He’ll never be a wide player, and no matter how many times Wenger puts him in that position, it’s either the bench or one of the central midfield roles for Ramsey. Throwing Lukas Podolski in the 72nd minute gave Arsenal that missing dimension they were missing, as the German scored his third goal in three weeks, although the previous two were in easily won demolitions.
Wide, finding wide players. Arsenal have too many central midfielders, and a Theo Walcott that doesn’t want to play as a winger. He was positioned as one nonetheless, while Olivier Giroud got the start in the middle. That didn’t stop Walcott from drifting constantly out of position and trying to force himself upon the match, which didn’t work so well, often looking like a selfish player who had only one purpose – score and ignore his teammates.
But the offense clicked well. The defense was where things got messy for Arsenal, especially after Michu came on in the 56th minute. I don’t know how Laurent Koscielny still has a job playing for a club like this, but that has to be one of the black spots on Wenger’s resume as a talent-spotter. Koscielny might seem impressive when you see him leap to headers on corners when attacking, but few big defenders are as soft as him when going to a tackle or a shoulder nudge, not to mention his awful timing and decision making.
Oh, there’s Per Mertesacker, who might be 6’6, but just like Koscielny, is a lot less tougher than he looks. Speed was always a problem for the German centre back, but being so soft with his tackling and so indecisive when he needs to be the exact opposite gave Arsenal a nightmarish duo with the job of keeping a clean sheet and a risk-free penalty area.
For 45 minutes, this was the Arseanl their fans wanted to see – the quick passing, the position exchanging and switching with midfielders who moved to forward positions and yes, terrible defending. It’s like no matter what happens and who plays, the same Arsenal will eventually come back to stay.