Arsène Wenger’s body language in his post-match interview painted the picture of an aggrieved and flustered man.
Wenger used words “lucky” and “too easy” to describe the match, discrediting Swansea’s defensive work ethic and Łukasz Fabianski’s solid display returning to the Emirates.
Yes, statistically Arsenal dominated the match, and yes Swansea’s goal came with a bit of luck. However, this result speaks more to the club’s shortcomings than it does its misfortune.
There are many character flaws that the Gunners have managed to shake this season, but conceding against the run of play isn’t one of them.
Naiveté in knife-edge games has cost Arsenal dearly, and will continue to until Wenger can instill a sense of perspective in his players.
Wenger’s words in the post-match press conference didn’t match his actions on the touch line.
“When you cannot win a game, don’t lose it. We knew exactly what could happen. It was not even a break,” he said.
Wenger knew Swansea could score on the break, and yet he stripped his side of its most important defensive asset well before stoppage time.
Criticize Jose Mourinho all you like, but if Chelsea are playing for a win or draw in a match they’re dominating, he won’t take off his only DM.
Yet that’s exactly what Wenger did, swapping Jack Wilshere for Francis Coquelin with 20 minutes left to play.
With that substitution, Arsenal’s midfield was comprised solely of attacking players. While this imbalance in midfield can’t be directly attributed to a goal scored just outside the six yard box, it couldn’t have helped. The back four were hopelessly exposed without Coquelin’s shielding presence.
Wenger needs to learn from the teams that frustrate us. At times his insatiable appetite to win is more trouble than it’s worth.
A scrappy 0-0 at home wouldn’t have made much difference in the race for second, but throwing the kitchen sink at Swansea only to leave the pitch empty-handed is demoralizing.
At some point, Wenger needs to swallow his pride and learn to play ugly when the situation calls for it. We’ve seen this season that conservative play coupled with a sense of perspective wins championships.