Could do better: Three players with room to improve after Arsenal’s win over Swansea

There was plenty to be pleased with in Arsenal’s Premier League win over Swansea – not least the points picked up over the teams around us.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing on Saturday and there were a few players who can look back on their performances with a critical eye.

There’s no need to press the panic button just yet but there’s always room for a little improvement, whether you win 1-0 or 36-4.

Below are a few players who may well be reflecting this morning on a game which fell short of their own high standards.

Granit Xhaka

Opinion is largely divided on whether Granit’s lunging tackle on Barrow was worthy of a straight red card.

Some people believe it was unduly harsh while others believe it was violent conduct and well worthy of the red.

For me, there is no question that it was incorrect. It was a cynical foul, which looked worse than it actually was, and warranted a yellow card. It was the sort of foul that smart teams make week in and week out to relieve the pressure of a breakaway.

The trivialities of the issue aside, it was a lamentable end to a bad day at the office for the Swiss, who would have been made the scapegoat had we capitulated under pressure from a Swansea side looking to snatch a point.

Getting caught on the ball for the first Swansea goal really was a glaring error and one that we all hope he won’t repeat so long as he remains an Arsenal player. He dallied on the ball for just a moment but that was all it took. There is no margin for error in a league as competitive as this one. It allowed Swansea a way back into a game that had passed them by at that point.

Given that those two incidents really sullied his day, it is easy to forget that the 24-year-old actually recorded a passing success rate of 93 per cent, put in four tackles, made five interceptions, and made a chance too.

There was much about what he did that was solid and positive, but there is no escaping the gravity of those errors. A day in which lessons must be learned.

Nacho Monreal

After making the left back position his own in the last 18 months, we have all come to expect consistency and excellence from the Spaniard – both going forward and in defence.

In the second half against Swansea, however, he really was dominated by Barrow, who out-paced and out-powered him on numerous occasions, one of which led to Swansea’s second goal.

Monreal wasn’t helped by the absence of any sort of defensive protection in front of him, which left him badly exposed to a player intent on going for the kill.

That said, he didn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. He was caught between getting tighter to his man, and giving himself a yard. Ultimately, nothing seemed to work and it was left to injury to finally relieve Monreal of his nightmare.

It’s impossible to be perfect all the time and this was a game in which Nacho was not at his brilliant best. It happens.

The real test will be when opposition teams try something similar in the weeks ahead. They will doubtless try to isolate him on the wing against pace and power so it is vital that he shows that he is capable of dealing with that.

Still, five interceptions, four clearances, three blocks and three successful aerial duels in nothing to be sniffed at. It wasn’t a terrible performance from Nacho by any stretch of the imagination, he just wasn’t as good as he is capable of being.

Petr Cech

Perhaps I’m being a little unfair in this instance but there was just something about the first goal.

Of course, winning the ball where he did left Sigurdsson in control of the situation, while both goalkeeper and defence were left badly exposed.

That said, there was a touch of ‘nothing I can do’ about the way Petr watched the ball fly past him and into the corner.

It’s easy for me to say that he could have done more, sitting in the comfort of my chair, but it didn’t seem like a particularly powerful shot, or one that was destined for the few inches inside the stanchion.

Even if there is absolutely no hope of reaching the ball, and Petr was far better placed to judge that than me, I think fans like to see their goalkeeper make a token effort to save it. Throw out an arm at least.

That instance aside, the big Czech stopper did the basics right. He was well placed and where he should have been to collect the numerous headers that came in on his goal and gathered them comfortably.

In all, he faced 13 shots on his goal, certainly not something he will have to deal with every week.

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