Swansea v Arsenal
Kick off: November 9th, 2014 16:00 PM GMT
It’s time to make amends again. After we enjoyed three consecutive victories, we were shocked by another needless draw at the Emirates against Anderlecht. During our barren spell we had a lot of draws that tasted like defeats. Who can forget our 4:4 draw at St James Park after we held a four-goal-lead at the break and the 3:3 draw at White Hart Lane after spilling a two-goal-lead in 2010-11, that horrible match in Birmingham in which we were seconds away from taking all three points before 10-man Birmingham equalized due to an idiotic mistake by Gael Clichy in 2007-08 or that 4:4 draw at home against Spuds despite entering last five minutes with a two-goal-lead (again, it was Clichy who gave a life-line to our opponents)?
Why do I mention all those matches ahead of our clash against Swansea? Well, if history has taught us anything, it’s the fact that we react badly to upsets, whether we talk about the aforementioned draws or the huge defeats from last season.
Our next opponents have been a rather difficult test for us since they have returned to the Premiership. In fact, I can’t recall a single comfortable victory over The Swans. They have shown some resilience in their matches against us and our last clash was no exception – we spilled two points in the last minute of the game due to an unfortunate own goal by Mathieu Flamini. Even before that goal we struggled to dominate against the Swans – they took an early lead thanks to Wilfried Bony’s header and held onto it until Lukas Podolski’s two minutes of brilliance – the German equalized in 79th minute and assisted for Olivier Giroud’s goal in the next attack.
It’s going to be another difficult match. Our injury problems have been something that both medical and horror books should be written about. Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny are both out for this game and neither of them will be back before December. That means either our Spanish talent Hector Bellerin will get a chance on the right full-back position with Calum Chambers playing next to Per Mertesacker in the heart of our defence or Chambers will play on the right side of the defence with a rather shaky partnership of Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal tested by the Ivorian menace Wilfried Bony. The Ivorian scored a header in our previous clash against The Swans and the headers have been our biggest defensive issue this term as Aleksandar Mitrović proved on Tuesday night. Bafetimbi Gomis is another powerful striker at Garry Monk’s disposal – he signed for The Swans on a free transfer this summer. Nacho Monreal has some nice memories from Liberty Stadium though – the Spaniard scored his first goal for Arsenal in our 2:0 victory in March 2013. Our full-backs shouldn’t be complacent either, especially given how Nathan Dyer can be a real menace. If he gets as much space as the Anderlecht wingers got on Tuesday night, Szczesny will have to perform like Oliver Kahn between the sticks.
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Mikel Arteta’s injury against Anderlecht means we’ll have to rely on Flamini as our defensive midfielder again. The Frenchman hasn’t had the best of campaigns and Aaron Ramsey – who is likely to join him in the midfield – hasn’t been in form either. There is always a possibility that Jack Wilshere gets a chance instead of Ramsey though and there is a remote possibility Tomas Rosicky will get a chance to show his aggression and tackling in a more defensive role. Gylfi Sigurdsson, a former Spud and a player that has been worshiped by Fantasy Football players world-wide, will represent a serious danger for our goal so this area of our team might be the most important one. Perhaps Welbeck might get a special task to drop deeper in order to mark the Korean midfielder Ki or to neutralize Sigurdsson.
When it comes to our attack, we can score goals. We have a world-class striker Alexis Sánchez who has been brilliant this term. The Chilean has been involved in almost every goal we have scored in our last five matches (I think Gibbs’ goal against Anderlecht in Brussels was the only exception) and will be our main hope to get points from Wales. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has looked sharp in his last two outings so he might provide a similar performance to the one of Serge Gnabry last term. Santi Cazorla hasn’t had too much luck in front of the opponents’ goal lately but that might change today. If Arsene Wenger doesn’t decide to start with Wilshere or Rosicky instead of the Spaniard, that is. Our FA Cup hero from the last term Lukasz Fabianski will be the last obstacle to our striking force.
Given the results from yesterday, we should beat The Swans in order to get just one point behind the reigning champions but also to keep the pace with Southampton and a distant hope to endanger Chelsea on the top. We can do it but we need to defend much better than we have done lately.
I’d go with this prediction – we’ll win 3:2. Bony will score a header to give the lead to the hosts before Alexis strikes back. The Chilean will create a goal for Welbeck who will give us a lead and Santi Cazorla’s first league goal will secure three points for us. Given that we have to go through some nail-biting moments at the end (because we are god-damn Arsenal!), Sigurdsson will score a goal that will turn out to be no more than a consolation goal for the hosts.
So, let’s get those three points to London like Alexis has promised on his Facebook page!
Head to Head
Premier League (EPL) 25 Mar 2014 Arsenal FC 2 – Swansea 2
Premier League (EPL) 26 Sep 2013 Swansea 1 – Arsenal FC 2
Premier League (EPL) 16 Mar 2013 Swansea 0 – Arsenal FC 2
FA Cup Reply (FAC) 20 Jan 2013 Arsenal FC 1 – Swansea 0
FA Cup (FAC) 29 Sep 2012 Swansea 2 – Arsenal FC 2
Chambers Mertesacker (c) Monreal Gibbs
Chamberlain Cazorla Alexis
Swansea 2 v 3 Arsenal