Arsenal do the necessary

Posted by Andrew Mangan

Arsenal capped a good week with a fine 2-0 win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium today in a game that won't go down in the annals as one of the greatest in history.

- Hicks: Fatigue starting to tell at Swansea
- Match report: Swansea 0-2 Arsenal

- Wenger proud of Arsenal passion

In truth, it was a fairly tedious affair. Swansea started brightly, Arsenal looked a little leggy, and although you might blame that on the midweek exertions, it was Abou Diaby who was the worst culprit, and he spent the Bayern game on the bench.

The home side's most dangerous moment came in the first half when Michu shot wide, but after that, they were strangely subdued and uncharacteristically careless with the ball. In previous encounters, they have been much more difficult to contain, but credit should go to an Arsenal side that remained organised and disciplined throughout.

Fears that they wouldn't continue where they left off in Munich were unfounded. While the defensive solidity does seem to be coming at the expense of some attacking verve, it's provided the foundation for two very good away victories. It's all well and good being swashbuckling, but too often Arsenal have been like the guy flashily waving the sword at Indiana Jones and then taken out ruthlessly.

This focus on not allowing the opposition space in front or behind is crucial to the clean sheets. It's hard work too, so credit to the players for the effort. Ultimately, it paid off, as two late goals won the three points.

It's fair to say that both came from unexpected sources. Nacho Monreal got his first for the club to put Arsenal ahead, and in injury time, Gervinho scored his first since October when he ran onto Aaron Ramsey's pass. The Ivorian started the season well but faded badly. A goal for him, and an assist for the Welshman, will do both men well.

On the day, however, two players stood out. Lukasz Fabianski might have kept another clean sheet, but he was relatively untroubled. At the back, it was Carl Jenkinson who had a storming performance at right full. His energy, strength and pace saw him shine defensively, and such is his willingness to get up and down the pitch. He was constantly providing an outlet in the Swansea half.

At the other end, the performance from Santi Cazorla was really one for the purists. On a day when neither team shone, when the game itself was hardly one to write home about, Cazorla's relentless positivity was just what Arsenal needed. It was from one of his runs that the first goal came about; he was unlucky not to score himself. Even late in the game, having run himself into the ground, he was chasing down defenders trying to make life difficult for the opposition.

I've sung his praises before and I'm sure I will again, but he is just the perfect example for any young footballer. He gets kicked, pulled, whacked, booted and buffeted all over the pitch, but he just gets up and gets on with it. He is a genuine maestro.

With an international break looming, it was vital Arsenal got the three points today. It puts some pressure on a Spurs side that played 120 minutes Thursday and on Chelsea, which were also in Europa League action. If Arsenal can get Lukas Podolski and Jack Wilshere fit for the run-in, and avoid any serious injuries with the national teams, these final nine games are going to be very interesting indeed.

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