Final Score: Arsenal 0, Swansea City 2
MANAGER Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal must learn to play with freedom again at the Emirates Stadium if they are to kick-start their Barclays Premier League campaign following the lacklustre 2-0 home defeat by Swansea.
The Gunners’ worst start to a top-flight season under the Frenchman continued as a late brace from Spanish striker Michu took the points back to Wales.
Wenger had looked to freshen his side up, deploying Gervinho down the middle and with Theo Walcott out wide, but there was little flair as the Swans turned in a slick passing game.
The tension flowed down from the terraces, with the ‘Black Scarf Movement’ having demonstrated around the ground before kick-off, complaining at the perceived commercialisation of the club following their move to the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger feels his team must rise above those concerns to get back to their former selves.
‘‘At home, we look like we play a little bit with the handbrake.
It is not fluent, there might be a psychological component in there as well,’’ Wenger said.
‘‘There was no movement or speed in our passing and we looked laboured, not sharp.
‘‘We had a lot of possession, but they created more chances than we did.
‘‘We have to find a solution to this because we turn teams around without hurting them.’’ There is little respite for Wenger’s beleaguered squad, who head out to Athens today ahead of their final Champions League Group B tie against Olympiacos.
With qualification for the knockout stages already secure, Wenger will look to rotate his side, even though they need a win to stand any chance of topping the group ahead of Schalke.
‘‘There are many players who need a rest, because they are on the verge of getting injured and some played with knocks,’’ said Wenger.
‘‘But we hope that we get a good performance at Olympiacos because it is important for us.’’ Despite the disappointing display by the Gunners, Swansea were good value for their victory following an industrious display, particularly during the first half.
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a fine double save after Angel Rangel had been played in on the overlap down the right.
On the half hour, Nathan Dyer burst clear, only for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen to make a last-gasp block.
Even though it was a muchimproved effort from the Gunners after the restart, without really testing Swans goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel, the visitors remained a threat on the break.
Szczesny made another important block from Rangel at the near post, before the Poland stopper beat away a close-range effort from substitute Dwight Tiendalli.
Just after Vermaelen’s flying header had lacked the pace to beat Tremmel, Swansea finally broke the deadlock when Michu played a neat one-two with substitute Luke Moore to slot past Szczesny.
The Spaniard, signed from Real Vallecano for £2m in the summer, grabbed another on the break in stoppage time to complete a miserable afternoon for Wenger’s men, who were booed off at full-time.
The visitors, however, were applauded by those home supporters who had stayed behind after the final whistle.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup felt his team had deserved their first win at Arsenal in 30 years.
‘‘We knew coming here the pressure was on Arsenal because they needed a win, so I told the boys to just go out and play their own game,’’ said Laudrup, whose side moved up to seventh after a second win of the week.
‘‘We had to change our tactics a bit sometimes because we had injuries to our usual wide players, and had one more man in midfield.’’