Arsenal Have The Character To Recover Fourth: Begin By Punishing Swansea
It's nice to be proved right once in a while, and realise that positivity can (even occasionally) be justified. Granted, Lukasz Fabianski coming into an away game in Munich, and impressing after so long out, was far from predictable. A further gamble was the dropping of our captain, but Kos and Per proved a balanced duo in defence, while Gibbs and Jenkinson provided high quality assistance.
In fact our defending as a whole was markedly improved, and beating a Bayern team by two goals while not conceding was a superb retort to recent, well-earned, criticism. The night was marred only by our lack of progression, and you have to say we resisted Munich effectively and...well, made them look rather ordinary at times. Elimination from the Champions League aside, the result was surely as good as any fan could ask for. The team worked hard, every player put in a professional and responsible performance, and with no Jack Wilshere to defer inspiration to, a team performance won the night.
It's exactly this that we'll now need to show with regularity and more than a team we need a whole squad performance until the end of the season. If Fabianski is to play a part, and our defence or any other part of the pitch changes personnel (Gibbs and Monreal switching is likely; more game-time for Rosicky and Ramsey less so), then the communal spirit will need to be strong. Quite why this hasn't happened so far this season is anyone's guess. Yet now I'd be happy for any player to come into the team at any point in the next ten games, with the result them putting in a shift for their colleagues and fans.
And that needs to start today. Swansea are now a cup-winning side, something we haven't been for some time. They're not winner by luck but by consistency, and for all the supposed similarities in style between us it's Swansea's ability to consistently perform and polish their Premier League status week which sees them deservedly with silverware and strongly positioned in the top ten. We know what they can do, and although they went down by five at Anfield we can't and won't underestimate them.
Team whispers suggest that Fabianski might start, while it might be that Koscielny and Mertesacker maintain the centre-back pairing. The midfield should almost pick itself with Wilshere and Podolski out and Diaby in the wings. It could mean a midfield trio of Arteta, Rosicky and Ramsey to start, with Cazorla and Theo assuming wide-roles, and that would leave Giroud up top.
I'd certainly expect the Frenchman to be first choice there for the remainder of the season, particularly with no cup fixtures clogging up the schedule. He might be rested mid-April for our period of three games in ten days, but the man scored at the Allianz and has mine and – undoubtedly – Wenger's backing. As do most of the squad at the current time.
Yes, it's not hard to think that something random and soul-destroying might happen at the Liberty after 15:00 this afternoon. We are used to it this season, aren't we? But without pesky cup competitions to distract us, I think we can hope (if not expect) a more regular Arsenal from here on in.
If we can do it against Munich, we can do it against any team in our run-in home and away. I'm not quite rose-brained enough to think a Mr R. van Persie won't score a hat-trick against us come April 28th, but taking that as a likelihood I'd be happy for our belated solidity to continue. We've one thing left to fight for this season. It's definitely not a trophy, but it's something only the least understood of Gooners would want us to miss out on. Chelsea and Spurs can be caught, and we know we can catch them. It is, very much, on.
Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinPocock