Swansea City vs Arsenal FC: Every game is a must-win for Arsene Wenger’s team
Quick, passing football isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re not a Barcelona fan. Even more so, if you’re a fan of the physical, counter attacking English game. But when Arsenal and Swansea clash against each other, it is a fixture to savor. The Gunners have played a maximum number of fixtures against Swansea this season, and though it may have become a bit tedious to digest now, Michael Laudrup’s Welshmen are a formidable force in league and cup competitions.
Saturday’s fixture at the Liberty Stadium will be Arsenal’s fifth meeting with Swansea this season, including the replay in the FA Cup in January.
After having graciously salvaged some pride in their Champions League fixture against Bayern, Arsenal have now only the league games to look forward to this season. The 2 goal win over Bayern was one of Arsenal’s most phenomenal performances this season and should encourage the Londoner’s in their bid to secure a top 4 spot in the league. At a time when Chelsea and Spurs will be continuing their European travels, Arsenal and Liverpool have serious catching up to do, if they are to attain Champions League football next season. This is even more crucial for Arsenal, whose delicate financial model is largely based on the massive incomes, which are the bait for many a club who seek top level European football.
Swansea, on the other hand, seem to have been on a decline of sorts after their comfortable League Cup win over Bradford. While the Cup win ensures them Europa League football next season, their domestic performances have been hit after a number of unconvincing displays over the last few games.
A loss to West Brom and Liverpool, and a gritty win over Newcastle means the Swans lie 9th in the table, 7 points behind 5th placed Arsenal.
The home advantage, though, should favor Swansea, as Laudrup’s men are unbeaten at home despite facing Chelsea, Man United and Arsenal in that period. Arsenal, on the other hand, have struggled in their travels up north, achieving a draw in their last visit. Earlier this season, 2 goals from talismanic hitman, Michu, meant that the Gunners fell to Swansea at the Emirates Stadium too.
Arsenal seem to be the team who have to worry the most, as they are 5 points off the pace, compared to their position last year, at this point of time. Meanwhile Swansea are one point ahead of their last year’s position in the same comparison.
Luke Moore will want to continue his rich form, after seeking two goals in two matches, including the winner against Newcastle United. Arsenal’s shambolic defense will be put to test by the likes of Moore, Michu, Routledge and Dyer who have formed the heart of Swansea’s explosive attack this season. Arsene Wenger’s top choice back three had been fantastic at Munich earlier in the week, but it remains to be seen if they can step up their performances during the remaining league fixtures.
Arsenal’s attack will be hoping that Olivier Giroud will have regained his scoring boots after the French international scored his first goal for Arsenal at Munich, in over a month.
Swansea: Vorm, Bartley, Tate, Williams, Britton, Michu, Hernandez, Dyer, Cornell, Lamah, Routledge, Monk, Shechter, Moore, De Guzman, Tiendalli, Rangel, Ki, Tremmel, Davies.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Monreal, Rosicky, Cazorla, Arteta, Diaby, Walcott, Giroud, Szczesny, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Arshavin, Coquelin, Miquel.
While Szczesny could return for the game, Fabianski, who put up an impressive display in Munich, could find himself ahead of the other Polish goalkeeper. While Kieran Gibbs was rushed into the first team for the Bayern game, Arsene Wenger has expressed his desire to rest the England international against Swansea, with Nacho Monreal available for selection.
Jack Wilshere and Lukas Podolski are out of the team with ankle injuries, while right-back, Bacary Sagna has knee problems. Car Jenkinson will deputize at right back after having put up a balanced display at the Allianz Arena.
Michael Laudrup will have Leon Britton and Luke Moore back from injury, after the former picked up a hip injury at West Brom last weekend.
Chico Flores and Kemi Agustein will be absent from the ranks for selection.
Key Duel: Michu vs Mertesacker
While the German was brilliant during the first half at the Allianz Arena, the centre back has been exposed by Michu in the past and will want to keep the Spaniard at bay. With Laurent Koscielny likely to start ahead of captain, Thomas Vermaelen, the task will be cut out for the lanky German, to sweep Arsenal’s end of any loose balls and avoid Michu from creating trouble via a counter-attack.
Swansea 1 : Arsenal 2