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Arsenal Vs Swansea – Premiership Preview

We went on a great run after our hammering against Liverpool.

Then, just as it began to make a difference to our league position, we floundered against Watford.

Now, we have a win in Belgrade, a convincing victory over Everton and a tight cup win over Norwich.

So I have no idea what Arsenal will turn up against Swansea.

There are some interesting pointers that may make a prediction a little easier.

Swansea have won exactly half of all Premier League fixtures at The Emirates. They didn’t win the last one, but they have some serious precedence for taking points from our home.

We have some very big games coming up that may take our eye off the ball. After this game, we welcome Red Star to The Emirates, followed by a trip to The Etihad to take on Manchester City. Then, we take on our North London neighbours at home. 

Dependant on how you look at things, it either places more focus on gaining maximum points from our match versus Paul Clements’ Swans – or less as we could be distracted with our impending tussles.

We do have Alexis, Ozil and Lacazette together again though. If these three stay fit and click as they did against Everton, then I fully believe we have a chance against anyone. It would be even better with Santi Cazorla in the team, but we can’t have everything.

So, who is going to make the team?

Arsene Wenger has said that Calum Chambers is now fit, and more surprisingly, so is Shkodran Mustafi. Will either be involved? With Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal settled, there is no need to rush either. A subs place beckons.

Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck and David Ospina are all ruled out, but we seem to be in rude health. There should be no reason why we cannot grab another three points and climb into the Top4.

Swansea have a problem with goals, but they do have players to cause pain to opponents. Gylffi Sigurdsson has done it to us before, Tammy Abraham can take chances and Jordan Ayew is effective. It is their defence that has seen them grab their points though. Four clean sheets from nine games speaks of a defence that belongs to a team far higher in the league than where the Swans currently lie – outside the relegation zone by mere goal difference.

So, we have a Swansea team who are building their team from the back, against a Jekyll and Hyde Arsenal who could either destroy or transform into a welcome mat.

We can all predict the game plan that Paul Clement will employ, and who can blame him. Swansea will look to pack the midfield and stifle any creativity. The balance of the team will be to sit back and then offload quickly to hit on the counter.

We have seen it before on countless occasions, but it is maddeningly effective at times. For once though, we really do have the answers in our team. I think our trio of Lacazette, Ozil and Sanchez will be too much for them.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette

Predicted Scoreline – 3-0 to The Arsenal

Swansea 0-4 Arsenal – 5 Keypoints From the Match

Four goals. A clean sheet. Three points. 

The very definition of the perfect day at the office.

This comfortable victory sees Arsenal climb to third in the table and match the result of the shadow dwellers who won at home to West Brom. Arsene Wenger can take some satisfaction from the manner of victory, especially as Swansea did provide some hairy moments when we toiled at 1-0. We showed the bottle that we needed in our recent comebacks against Preston and Bournemouth, but this time there was no comeback required.

This win also puts an end to our recent poor away record, with no win in three prior to this result, and this will hopefully be the start of a sequence of games where we can mount some decent form. The ninety minutes at the Liberty Stadium is reason enough for optimism to shine through the Gooner masses, as possession was bossed, chances were created and our defence stood strong.

The same team that heroically came back from capitulation against Bournemouth two weeks ago was named, and that meant Olivier Giroud again enjoyed a starting role. With four goals in his last four games, the Frenchman was on fire and he would be the man to break the deadlock. 

Some neat interplay saw Aaron Ramsey able to scorch a pass across the six yard box. Giroud was lurking but was inches away from the touch which the pass needed to divert the ball into the net. Alexis retrieved the situation wide on the left and his scooped pass was met by the head of Ozil. The header was blocked but Giroud cleaned up with a neat finish from six yards in an unmarked position.

It was deserved, as while Swansea were posing an intermittent threat, Arsenal were slowly cranking up the heat. This was to be the only goal of the half though, despite some pressure from both sides. 

Cech had dealt with whatever had come his way, and former Gunner Fabianski had also snuffed out some good opportunities in the opposite goal. At half time  the Gunners were ahead, and it was soon to be doubled in the second half.

Nacho Monreal stopped an attempted counter with an outstretched foot and the ball bobbled back into the Swansea box. Alex Iwobi was alive to the loose ball and he ran onto it and fired toward goal. The ball took a huge deflection from Jack Cork and the ball arced over Fabianski and into the net. It may have been a huge slice of luck, but it had been ten concentrated minutes of pressure from Arsenal after the break and the home side had been desperately doing everything to stop Arsenal from scoring.

Just over ten minutes later, Arsenal put the game to bed. Iwobi was involved again, as another quick conversion of possession and a great pass put Iwobi into the box. He was being tightly marshalled, but a few shimmies from Iwobi’s locker gained him half a yard of space. He chose to square the ball and that man Own Goal once again made the difference, spinning the ball in off of Kyle Naughton’s heel.

Alexis got in on the act six minutes later and Iwobi was again the difference maker. His slide rule pass set free second half substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain, and his cutback found Ramsey. Ramsey was all set to fire but was clipped and the ball lurched forward. It was snaffled up by Alexis like lightning and the game was cooked.

There was much more incident and noteworthy stuff during the game, but here are the five keypoints from the match;

Giroud must start

Some are bemoaning the fact we have resorted to last seasons shape. They have a fair point. The fluidity and sharpness we have when Alexis plays as centre forward is not present when Giroud is up top. Five goals in five games though, tells the other side of the story. We always implore managers to pick a side based on form and not reputation, and this is the result. Whilst we all want Lucas to play and he cannot do anymore to implore Wenger to pick him – we must use Giroud whilst his purple patch is in place. Alexis is still our first choice, but a player must play when he is in form – otherwise what is the point of the rest of the squad trying so hard?

Iwobi over the hump

The shaky spell that every youngster will suffer from after making their debut? Iwobi had that at the start of the season. The last few games – and increased competition from The Ox – has seen ‘Big17’ pull out of his slump and rise above it. He has shown he really is the real deal and his touch and passing was there for all to see. He can still be polished, but what promising signs from this youngster. He is only going to get better.

A competitive start for once

The last few games has seen the return of an ugly trait. The sluggish start. Too often we have let teams gain the initiative mainly due to our inability to wake up from the start. This game we at least were at the game, and we put up a fight. There is plenty of room for improvement, especially as we all know how we can start games, but this was a step in the right direction.

Ramsey and Xhaka bonding

This partnership has always had promise, and some have always seen its potential (I cannot claim to have seen this partnership as the best we have to offer, and I still do not). With Santi, Elneny and Coquelin all missing, this combo simply had to work. The mandatory starting of both has helped forge a partnership and it is slowly starting to form. The test will be our next big game – early February against Chelsea – but the signs are good. Balance between defence and attack has been sensible and both look to be potent. Good signs and long may it continue.

Winning the next few games

Every game is a must win. With the smallest margin for error, it seems any dropped points have the largest ripples in the Premier League pond. With the next games against Burnley (at home crucially) and away to Watford, six points are the order of the day. A draw at Stamford Bridge in the subsequent fixture would not be the worst result, but maximum points against these teams we should take to school will instill confidence and hopefully see the teams around us drop points as we have done recently. 

There was a lot more incident in this game. Ki’s booking for simulation after we had taken the lead, Cech’s return to a semblance of form, the return of Koscielny, the dissatisfaction from Alexis when taken off in the second half – but the points above encapsulate the game as a whole – hopefully. I hope you enjoy reading, and above all, enjoy the win. 

It’s not often we have nothing to moan about. Enjoy it. 

Swansea Vs Arsenal – The Warm-Up

Arsenal have been the comeback kids of late. What with the Bournemouth game with shades of Banterlecht in reverse, and then Preston showing us that the first half of games are not a myth, we have seen the Gunners show they do exist, but only in forty five minute bursts.

We will need far more against Swansea City who have beaten us three times in the last five games. 

The Swans can also call upon that mystifying and unquantifiable boost that teams receive when bedding in a new manager – the honeymoon period. People may scoff, but it has scorned many unwitting teams who do not believe it exists.

The Swans manager Paul Clement can implement the wisdom he has shared with Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid and more recently Bayern Munich, but he must do it quickly. The south Wales side are second from bottom and are shipping goals at an alarming rate. Clement has also called in a surprising Assistant Manager in Claude Makalele, but the two worked together at PSG under Ancelotti and he comes highly recommended, though it is early days for the team. This transfer window may well yield much business at the Liberty City stadium, but none have come in quick enough so Clement’s squad will be boosted for the visit of Arsenal. New striker Luciano Narsingh has a calf injury so is out, and Neil Taylor missses out with a broken cheekbone. It is unclear whether Fernando Llorente will feature amid much interest from Chelsea. 

They may have a great record against Wenger’s team, but it certainly wasnt garnered in Wales. Arsenal have won three of their last four trips to Swansea and they must go there and hope for the same thing again if they are to make any headway in the league table.

Arsenal will be without Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny – Coquelin is injured and Elneny on AFCON duty – so Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey will make up the centre of the Gunners midfield. Long term prospects Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker are still a way from being incorporated into plans, but Danny Welbeck made his long awaited return in the Cup win against Preston and his pace and guile will be very useful in games to come. Will he play? Perhaps a spot on the bench. Koscielny will also return to the team after missing out last week. 

Another who returns is playmaker supreme Mesut Ozil. After a bout of flu, the German is back and should slot straight back into the team. Olivier Giroud will most likely retain his place up front as his form is too good to bench. Alexis will stay on the left, but the right spot is up for grabs. With Theo Walcott still out, it means Alex Iwobi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lucas Perez will duke it out for the chance. Lucas Perez has really made the most of his sporadic chances thus far, so it would be great to see the Spaniard start the game.

Arsenal have not won any of their last three away games, and this game must herald the end of that awful run. Swansea will fight tooth and nail for the points, but what is imperative is we MUST turn up in the first half. If we do, it could turn the tide. Swansea have only avoided defeat twice in fourteen games when conceding first.

Three points would be great, and the icing on the cake would be to be able to watch the game without the tension of a terrible first half and a gargantuan effort to come back into the game. 

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal. Giroud to score…..again!

Arsenal 3-2 Swansea – 5 Keypoints From the Game

Another three points in the bag, level with top of the table Man City, and rising above the difficulties of facing a team with a new manager means that, on the face of things, this was a great day at the office for Arsenal.

This game provided much more than a serene victory though.

Before kickoff, Swansea’s record at The Emirates was the hot topic, and the fact that they have three wins in the last four trips to our home meant that despite their poor league position, Swansea must be taken gravely.

The same lineup from our last outing two weeks ago in the 1-0 win over Burnley, and the 3-0 victory over Chelsea the week before, was named, which showed Arsene Wenger was in no mood to see Swansea return to Wales with the points again.

It was a fast start to the game for the Gunners, and there were chances created, but Swansea somehow held on, even if it was occasionally more luck than judgement. Most notable was Mustafi’s header from an Ozil corner which flicked the top of the bar.

The home fans had to wait until the 26th minute to see their side break the deadlock, and it was Theo Walcott – much maligned by the press after his anonymous display for England – who was the man who produced the goods. 

A bouncing ball into the box should have been emphatically dealt with by Jordi Amat, but he instead chose to steady himself with a touch before clearing, and the attacking instincts of Walcott were spot on, as he snaffled the ball from Amat and hit the back of the net. The move started from a lofted ball into the box from Alexis, and a wonderful run behind the lines from Bellerin meant he had time to plant a cushion header into the danger area, and Theo was the man on the spot.

Seven minutes later, Theo had another. A corner was flung in, and Jack Cork should have headed clear. Instead, he missed, and the ball fell onto an unsuspecting Gylffi Sigurdsson’s heel, which meant Walcott could spin and finish past Fabianski to double the lead.

Arsenal were cruising, but concentration is a ninety minute game, and this was not the case when Swansea pulled a lifeline from nowhere.

Passing around our defensive third with no danger, attempting to comfortably see out the half, Granit Xhaka got caught napping, and Sigurdsson wrapped his foot around a delicious curling shot which gave Cech no chance.

From nowhere, Swansea had a hand on solid ground. 

The second half saw plenty of action too, and it was Mesut Ozil who reinforced Arsenal’s superiority, after ghosting into the box to thump a close range volley past Fabianski, from Alexis’s great lofted pass.

That concentration problem cropped up once again though, and Nacho Monreal – who has had better days in our shirt – once again was exposed by Mo Barrow, who put in a cross which was finished by Borja, to once again keep Swansea in with a real shout of grabbing something from the game.

Four minutes later though, the real talking point of the game occurred. There was much more to glean from this match as well, so here are 5 key points from tbe game:

Granit Xhaka’s Red Card was a cynical foul, but it was NOT a Red.

Mo Barrow twisted, turned and fooled a somewhat dozy Xhaka, and evaded him. He started to motor, until a leg hooked him to the turf. Granit Xhaka knew Barrow was gone, and he did what he thought was necessary to stop him. It was foolish, and he should know a little better, but we wanted an enforcer in the centre of the park, and these types will always pick up bookings. The problem with this offence though, is that it was on the halfway line. He didn’t stop a likely goal, and it wasn’t violent conduct, so why did John Moss hook him? 

John Moss is looking to make friends in Swansea…..and Tottenham

Throughout the game, there were repeat offenders in a white shirt which went unpunished, but Xhaka prompted Moss to rush over and instantly brandish a red card. The man seemed intent on replacing Mike Dean, Clattenburg and Anthony Taylor as Arsenal fans favourite referee, as his ignorance at attack-halting tackles and some laughable offside calls happened with alarming frequency. One to watch out for when he next officiates. 

Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin were pivotal

Hector and Santi covered the most ground in an Arsenal jersey, and Bellerin’s constant probing down the right was a vital outlet to stretch a stoic but disorganised Swans defence. Santi Cazorla offered another kindly reminder to his manager on the sidelines that he is worth a contract extension, with his effervescent hunger for the ball and he was always positive when in possession. Santi has so much to offer, and has to be amongst the first names on the team sheet.

Theo continues to impress

In an England shirt, Theo – along with his teammates may I add – is underwhelming. In last season’s Arsenal shirt, Theo was pretty dire for the majority. This season though, Walcott has found his purpose again. His instinctive positioning was key to grabbing his two goals, which is a huge plus point as it is proof he has evolved. He of course should have grabbed his hat-trick, but we as fans can be more than pleased that Theo is offering another prong to our attack. Long may his fitness continue, and his goals. Five goals in eight games so far.

Alexis not amongst the goals, but makes the difference

The Chilean was amongst our many stars who was on international duty, but he returned of course, later than every one of his Gunners mates as the travelling distance from South America is far greater. So, a jaded Sanchez was a potential problem. The thing is though, that a tired Alexis still has more energy than a nuclear reactor, and he may have been denied by Fabianski, but it was his passes into the box which led to Theo’s first goal and Mesut’s fabulous volley. A blessing he is in our team.

Onward we go then, to Wednesday, and a return to Champions League action against Ludogorets. Then, we have another home game against Boro in the Premier League. 

Make no mistake, this was a tough game against a tough opponent. Swansea completed more passes than us, and there was not a marked difference in the amount of shots between both sides. At times we looked peerless, but the most vulnerable time is when you score a goal. We cannot switch off, and other teams may punish us more severely. 

On the whole though, it’s another positive result. 

Keep up the pressure, keep the winning habit. 

Arsenal Vs Swansea – Match Preview

After what has seemed like eons, the Premier League is back following the mammoth international break, and the first match for Arsenal is a toughie.

There are many factors that make Swansea a more difficult opponent than their league position implies. 

Firstly, the Swans are unbeaten in their last four trips to The Emirates, winning three of them. 

Then, you have the much fabled ‘honeymoon’ period when a new boss takes over. 

When a manager takes the reins at a new club, invariably the players rise to the challenge of impressing the new man on the sidelines. They realise that their immediate future is in the hands of the manager, so a performance packed with intensity and drive is usual fare in the first few games.

Bob Bradley hails from the US – just in case you missed this groundbreaking news in amongst every story that has touched on the subject – and the former Le Havre boss seems to have garnered more attention than most due to the fact he is the first Manager to cross the pond and take charge of a Premier League club.

It matters little where he hails from, what is of substance is his track record, and Bradley knows his onions. 

Bradley will be keen to carry on the habit of winning at Arsenal, after Michael Laudrup, Garry Monk and recent incumbent Francesco Guidolin all took the points, but there are some pointers which point towards positivity for Gooners.

The Gunners have earned five straight wins in the League, and have kept four clean sheets in the process. Most of the plaudits have deservedly gone to fresh defensive pairing Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny, and they will continue in the centre of the backline after returning unscathed from international duty.

In terms of injury, Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck are still out, but Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey have returned to full training – although they lack match fitness so won’t be part of Arsene Wenger’s plans.

Francis Coquelin has also returned from his knee injury, and will he slot straight back into the side? Wenger is normally loath to change a winning side, so Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla should be on the teamsheet for the Swans game.

Alexis Sanchez played for Chile on Thursday, and even though he has the stamina and appetite of a greyhound with worms, even he will be feeling the effects. Will Wenger drop him though? Perhaps Lucas Perez will get a nod? We all rightfully doubt it. If Alexis is fit, he will play.

Either way, the returning players will come in very handy over these next few weeks. The fixture schedule comes into play in a massive way now, with seven games in just 23 days. Squad strength is a big boost to any side, and we now have it, with competition in every position. The rival for their shirt will keep performances up, and also keep the first choice player refreshed if the hectic schedule starts to bite. 

Back to today’s game, and with a near full strength roster to pick from, confidence high from a winning run and the players knowing they will have to fight harder than ever to hold down a spot, we should be looking forward to a win.

Swansea desperately need the points, and have previous results on their side, but they will be missing Fernando Llorente and Jeferson Monteiro, so two of their biggest hitters will be out of the game.

That will help our cause, but at The Emirates, we should not be fearing other players. We have more than enough in our locker to hurt any opponent, and with spurs and City ahead of us at the start of play, we need to keep the pressure up.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Iwobi, Ozil, Walcott, Sanchez.

Predicted Score – I can’t decide. My head says 2-1 win to Swansea, my heart says 2-0 Arsenal. 

Arsenal Vs Swansea – Match Preview

If the Ghostbusters existed, I would save up my hard-earned readies and hire them.

Not only because they were what I wanted to be when I was a youngster ( and pretty much throughout my adult years ), but I would utilise their unique services to exorcise the demons that have tormented me since our 3-2 loss to Manchester United on Sunday.

The manner and circumstance of the defeat has left ripples across the whole Arsenal fanbase, destroying the majority of optimism. All that is left is a desolate waste, where glory once was only darkness and misery remain.

Or at least, until we win again.


Continue reading Arsenal Vs Swansea – Match Preview

Swansea 0-3 Arsenal – Match Review

On the eve of this match, much was made of Arsenal’s deficiencies on the right side of midfield, thanks to the absence of Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

After the Gunners left the Liberty Stadium with the three points, the buzz centred on the man who filled the void in that very position – Joel Campbell.

Continue reading Swansea 0-3 Arsenal – Match Review

Swansea City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsenal’s midweek humiliation at the hands of Championship side Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup has more ramifications than exiting the competition.

Not only will the Gunners lose the chance to further blood some of their promising youngsters, they’ve also lost vital resources coming into equally important matches.

Continue reading Swansea City Vs Arsenal – Match Preview