This Tuesday, Arsenal welcome Swansea City to the Emirates in one of five midweek fixtures in the Premier League. Both teams go into the game after suffering defeats in their previous league fixture. The Gunners’ last game saw them humbled 6-0 by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in manager Arsene Wenger’s 1000th game in charge. It is the third time this season that Arsenal have conceded at least 5 goals away from home against a member of the top four. After each of these defeats, Arsenal have bounced back with a 0-0 draw, so they will be hoping for a better result this time round. The Swans have had a difficult period and are without a win since early February. This win came against Cardiff and is the only win that interim manager Garry Monk has had in charge of the club. They have lost three of their last four in the league, drawing the other, and they will need to put in a good performance to take something away from the Emirates.
Arsenal’s injury list has got relatively shorter going into the game. The Gunners’ long term injuries are Theo Walcott (Knee injury) and Abou Diaby (Knee injury). Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere are also out for the foreseeable future with hamstring and foot injuries respectively. Winger Ryo Miyachi is also out, suffering with a hamstring injury. Aaron Ramsey could be fit enough to re-join the squad after being out of action since January with a muscle problem.
Swansea only have one injury problem of real note. Defender and former Arsenal player Kyle Bartley is out of the game with a hamstring injury. Michu made a substitute appearance against Everton at the weekend and could be expected to player a bigger part in the game at the Emirates. The Spaniard is on his way to full match fitness after spending a few months on the sideline.
When the two teams met earlier in the season at the Liberty Stadium, Arsenal came out on top 2-1 thanks to an Aaron Ramsey winner. That was the second league victory in a row against Swansea for the Gunners. Before that, Arsenal lost two fixtures in a row to the Swans, including a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates in December 2012. Swansea have won two of the four away games they have played against Arsenal in their history, and they have won four of their nine fixtures against the Gunners. The fixture itself is one that has never been goalless. Swansea gave Thierry Henry his only defeat in his second spell at Arsenal.
Santi Cazorla has had an excellent second half to the season. The Spaniard’s season was blighted by injury troubles early on, but since recovering, he has been a mainstay in the Gunners’ side. Cazorla is not on course to match the 12 goals and 11 assists he achieved last season, but that is due to his role in the Arsenal team changing since then. With Mesut Ozil currently injured however, Cazorla will look to pick up the creative burden in the team. His four goals and four assists are likely to increase in the coming weeks, as he will be the Gunners’ main source of creativity. Cazorla has created a chance every 45 minutes this season, but at the Emirates this ratio is often better. With Arsenal looking to bounce back with a win, Cazorla’s input could have a big say in the fixture. With the amount of injuries Arsenal currently have, Cazorla will need to shine like he did last season in the coming weeks for the Gunners.
Wilfried Bony has had a fantastic first Premier League season. The Ivorian international has gone some way to repaying his price tag by scoring 11 goals so far in his debut Premier League season. Of these goals, eight have come against teams in the top half. Bony has managed to score a brace against both Manchester City and Liverpool, showing the qualities that he possesses. Garry Monk will therefore feel confident that if given an opportunity at the Emirates, Bony has the confidence to take it. Bony has scored four goals in his last six games, his most prolific spell in the Premier League so far. He has managed just under a goal every two games, scoring one every 187 minutes. With Michu only just returning from injury in the previous fixture, Bony has filled his position as Swansea’s talisman. Other than Michu, Bony is the clubs only other striker to have scored in the Premier League this season. His importance in this Swansea team can now not be overlooked, and he will look to repeat Michu’s exploits of last season in scoring at the Emirates
Arsenal will be looking to bounce back against a Swansea team who has not been in the best form. The fact that the Gunners have done so well against teams in the bottom half this season will give them some confidence. Swansea have not taken many points against teams in the top half, but they will draw confidence from their performance at the Emirates last year. A repeat of that will give them a real push towards safety and completely put to bed any notion of an Arsenal title challenge. Arsenal’s response has to be a good one, so I predict a 2-0 Arsenal win in this fixture.