One of our goals has been reached – we have secured another top four finish, which means we will be part of the illustrious Champions League competition next season. However, even if the league title is out of our reach, there is so much to play for in our last four league matches.
Firstly, we have to secure our place in the top three to avoid the Champions League qualifiers. We are two points clear of Manchester United with two games in hand, but we are yet to visit The Red Devils at Old Trafford. If we beat Swansea tonight, we would probably need just one point from the remaining three matches to secure top three, as we have a better goal-difference than Manchester United.
Then we can set the bar higher up, and hopefully challenge Manchester City for the second place. We are three points behind The Citizens, but the fact we have two games in hand should work in our favour.
First we have to beat the Swans however, and they won’t be pushovers at the Emirates.
We haven’t had too many nice memories from this fixture since they return to Premiership in 2011. Each side has won once, with Swansea being even slightly better at the Emirates than Arsenal due to goal-difference (4:3 for Swansea). You probably remember this game (via Arsenal.com) and our forgotten nemesis Michu scoring a late brace. You know, the same Michu that had been heavily connected with us (via The Independent.co.uk) in more or less every transfer window (via Metro.co.uk) since that game before he left Swansea for Napoli – where he hasn’t had the best of spells (via transfermarkt.de), to put it mildly.
Anyway, we haven’t beaten the Swans in the league at home since Andrey Arshavin seized upon an error from Michel Vorm to score the only goal of the game in September 2011 (via Arsenal.com). It was also a debut for our captain Mikel Arteta and vice-captain Per Mertesacker, while a certain French youngster Francis Coquelin made his first appearance at the Emirates. He replaced Emmanuel Frimpong in the game, and nobody could have imagined what would happen later with both players.
Last season it ended 2:2, but both sides could have felt sorry for not taking all three points. Wilfried Bony gave the lead to the visitors before Lukas Podolski both scored and created a goal for Giroud in the space of sixty seconds to inspire our come-back. An unfortunate own goal from Mathieu Flamini then took two precious points away from us, but Swansea’s last counter-attack was stopped by the final whistle from the referee. (via theguardian.com)
The reverse fixture
Swansea have already beaten us this term in what was a well-deserved victory for them. We took the lead through Alexis Sanchez following a brilliant counter-attack from our pacey quartet of Santi Cazorla-Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain-Danny Welbeck-Alexis Sanchez. However, we were never comfortable at the back, as Jefferson Montero was destroying our right full-back for the day Calum Chambers. Swansea had been knocking on our door, and we eventually succumbed to a magnificent Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick. Bafetimbi Gomis added a header from the six-yard-box to seal the victory for the hosts. (via bbc.com)
The Ugly Duckling became a Swan
Lukasz Fabianski had gone through a rough period at Arsenal. The fact he has already collected more Premiership starts at his new club than he had collected during his whole Arsenal spell says it all (via theguardian.com). He had been called “Flappy-handski” between spells either on the bench behind his compatriot Wojciech Szczesny or sidelined with injury. For all those years, he should be given a warm welcome. That’s the least he deserves for his service at Arsenal. Of course, that doesn’t mean our forwards shouldn’t try to score as many goals as possible!
The fixture congestion
It’s never easy to play three games in nine days but we can make it all the easier for ourselves if we beat The Swans tonight.
After shortly reaching nirvana (or how we Gooners call it, a clean bill of health), we have gone through some injury problems again. Aaron Ramsey has been a doubt for tonight’s game but he has been seen on the training pitch so he might get a start against the only Welsh side in the Premiership.
Danny Welbeck has been ruled out for this match as well, which means our options in the attack are rather reduced – with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sidelined since our FA Cup victory against Manchester United.
Arsene Wenger will probably stick to his winning formation as much as possible, so we might see the same eleven that won at KC Stadium last Monday.
David Ospina will have to keep his eye on long shots from Jonjo Shelvey and Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Hector Bellerin has looked more assured at the Emirates where most of the opponents think more about defending. His pace should nullify the treat Swansea offer through the wings.
Nacho Monreal has pleasant memories of The Swans, as he has scored his first Arsenal goal in our 2:0 victory at the Liberty Stadium. The Spaniard has been brilliant in 2015 and there is no reason not to continue in the same manner tonight.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are the likely choices for the heart of our defence.
In a duel of famous TV-detectives, our Columbo Francis Coquelin will face Garry Monk’s Swans.
Santi Cazorla and Mesut Özil will create chaos in the opponents’ final third as usual.
Should Aaron Ramsey stay on the bench, Jack Wilshere might be given a chance to repeat his glorious performance against The Swans in the FA Cup Replay from 2013.
Alexis Sánchez needs one more goal to equal Thierry Henry’s first season league tally.
Olivier Giroud has gone through something of a barren spell, as he hasn’t scored a goal in the last three league matches, but he might end that tonight.
Serge Gnabry might get a cameo at some point in the game.
It won’t be an easy game and I’ve said many times that it’s the one that I fear the most from the remaining four league games. However, even if my head suggests this might end up as a draw, my heart says: 4:1 for The Gunners with goals from Giroud (2), Alexis, and Özil.
English Premier League (EPL) Swansea 2 v 1 Arsenal FC
English Premier League (EPL) Arsenal FC 2 v Swansea 2
English Premier League (EPL) Swansea 1 v Arsenal FC 2
English Premier League (EPL) Swansea 0 v Arsenal FC 2
FA Cup Replay (FAC) Arsenal FC 1 v Swansea 0
Arsenal FC 4 v 1 Swansea