Arsenal vs Swansea City
Mar 25, 2014 at 7.45pm (UK)
After a crushing 6-0 defeat suffered at the hands of London and title rivals Chelsea, Arsenal now have a realistic chance to pick up three points against Swansea at home and gain some confidence before they host Manchester City this weekend.
The travelling Welsh side are currently fifteenth in the table hovering just above the danger zone of going down and playing hide and seek in their mission to stave off relegation. They are 4 points above 18th placed Sunderland who have two games in hand. The Swans come into this encounter on the back of a narrow away defeat at the hands of Everton and subsequently making it harder for themselves as Hull and Norwich picked up 3 points and moved ahead of them. Garry Monk’s side now travel to London and will have to work their socks off against a wounded Gunners who will be waiting to prove a point.
Arsenal have been given a much needed boost as the duo of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs have been cleared by the FA. Gibbs, who was sent off by mistake after Oxlade-Chamberlain deliberately blocked Hazard’s shot have been given the green signal while Ox who played the first half of the Chelsea game has not been punished.
However a major concern for the Gunners will be the absence of Laurent Koscielny who has been sideline for a fortnight with a suspected calf injury. Arsenal captain, Thomas Vermaelen will have to step up for the Frenchman and it will be the perfect time for the Belgian to prove a point.
Swansea are free from injury woes and Arsenal’s tormentor in previous seasons, Michu is fit again. Having made two substitute appearances in the previous two games, Michu might get the nod for this one given Arsenal’s trouble to stop the Spaniard.
Arsenal cannot afford to drop further points if they are to confirm their fourth place as there seems to be no stopping the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. And with tricky games ahead, Arsenal’s realistic chances at the end of this season will be the familiar top 4 finish.
What to expect from the match:
Arsene Wenger knows any further slip up would mean the title would be unreachable from the firm hands of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea or even the race for the 4th place might get trickier. The home side will definitely start as favourites in what can be expected to be a foregone conclusion by the hour mark. Swansea on the other hand will be no pushovers, thanks to their belief in themselves and with their passing abilities can give Wenger’s side quite some trouble at the back. However it perhaps at the end will be too tall a mountain to climb.
Santi Cazorla’s resurgence at the heart of the Gunners attack in the absence of Mesut Ozil is quite a spectacle, controlling the tempo of the match and egging his team on. The Spaniard however was accountable for losing the ball far too many times against Chelsea and will have to make up for it against the Swans. Tomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski will also have a key role to play.
For the away side though, Canadian born Jonathan De Guzman will be the key with his runs just behind Wilfried Bony up front. The Ivorian striker will also have to pull the strings to cause trouble for the Arsenal back four. Swansea’s wing play will also have to be at its zenith to get at least something frictions daunting away trip.
There have been eight goals scored in the last 10 minutes of the last five meetings in all competitions between Arsenal and Swansea.
The away side has scored two goals in five of the last six meetings between Arsenal and Swansea in all competitions.
Arsenal have lost none of their last 13 Premier League home games (W10 D3), conceding just four goals in that run.
There has never been a league draw between Arsenal and Swansea with the Gunners winning five and the Swans four of the nine meetings.
50% of the goals Arsenal have conceded this season though have come in three games away from home against the top three and they have the best home defensive record shipping just seven goals.
Arsenal have won only three of their last eight Premier League games, just one more than Swansea have in their last eight (2).
If the season had started on January 1st 2014, Swansea would be in the relegation zone, two points away from safety.
Facts compiled from uk.eurosport.yahoo.com
Possible starting lineups
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Flamini; Podolski, Rosicky, Cazorla; Giroud
Swansea: Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Chico, Davies; Britton, Shelvey; Dyer, Routledge, Michu; Bony
Arsenal should win this one easily with Swansea getting a late consolation. 3-1 to the Gunners for me.