Swansea will travel to North London looking to replicate the performance they produced against West Brom which saw them comfortably win against the high flying Baggies. The Swans have continued to flourish under Laudrup’s maverick leadership and now are unbeaten in their last five (shown in the form guide above and are now the sixth in the current Form Guide). Meanwhile, things haven’t been quite so rosy on the other side of the border.
Arsene Wenger has been keen to point out that Arsenal need to make their home ground a fortress again. The Gunners have won just three of their last nine Premier League home games (W3 D4 L2) and incredibly two of those have been when the opposition have been reduced to 10 men. This will not make for pleasurable reading to Arsenal fans, who hold the most expensive tickets in the country. A more damaging revelation is that this is Arsenal’s worst start to a Premier League season under Arsene Wenger (21 points after 14 matches) and only in 1994-95 (19 points) have they had fewer points in the Premier League era.
This is only the 12th meeting between these clubs, and seventh in the league. Arsenal lead by six wins to Swansea’s four overall, with one draw.
Swansea’s only victory away to Arsenal came in the top flight in February 1982.
Arsenal dug out a crucial 1-0 win over Swansea in the corresponding fixture last season and with the recent run of results , Wenger would be pleased to do the same again.
Arsenal face an anxious wait with three key players facing late fitness tests. Sagna is a doubt due to a foot injury while Theo Walcott is also suffering from an ankle knock. Lukas Podolski also faces a late night following a bout of virus.
Michael Laudrup will be without one of his Spanish contingent as Pablo Hernandez who has begun to settle into the club after a slow start has failed to recover from a thigh injury. Another of them Chico Flores is also a doubt with a shoulder injury. On a more positive note Danny Graham has made a recovery but the Dane is unlikely to risk him.
Pass, pass, pass….
Arsenal and Swansea are prolific passers of the ball and look to cut defences open through the sheer amount of passing. Both teams possess outstanding ball retainers in the form of Mikel Arteta and Leon Britton. Bring in the talents of Wilshire, Cazorla, De Guzman, Ki into the equation and the only answer it will read it pass, pass and pass. If you are a connoisseur of Spanish football then this is the game you want to be tuning into as this is as close as it will get to replicating the La Liga.
Ones to Watch
Theo Walcott: If Walcott manages to get himself fit, he will be Arsenal’s biggest threat. The game will be a free flowing, end to end contest and this should give Walcott plenty of chances on the counter and allow to him to do what he does best – run at defenders. The winger has scored two and created another three in his last four matches and with Santi Cazorla being kept a close eye on by opposing defences, Walcott will have to deliver.
Michu: While Pablo Hernandez has begun to express himself and steal the limelight in the past few weeks, Michu has been plugging away and has found the back of the net on a consistent basis. A hard worker off the ball and a keen eye for goal has meant Laudrup has played him on his own up front. And he has delivered. The ex-Rayo Vallecano star has perhaps been the bargain of the season. And he’s far from being done.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Swansea