The title race is heating up and Arsenal lost at Old Trafford, allowing Leicester and Tottenham to take the ascendancy. Also Manchester City didn’t play, but their victory in the Capital One Cup final will have boosted the confidence and they will be real contenders in the run in. The Gunners have been a lot of people’s favourites for the league title, and when they beat Leicester, there was a feeling that they were going to push on and clinch their first league title since 2004. Meanwhile Swansea are in the middle of a relegation fight, They are just three points above the relegation zone and a loss this week will give Newcastle confidence of climbing above them as the Magpies will have two matches in hand.
Arsenal are now five points behind Leicester, and with their upcoming fixture list will be crucial to their hopes. They need to get three points against Swansea in the run up to next weekend, when they have a massive game against Tottenham, which is shaping up to be the biggest North London derby in recent history. Both have genuine hopes of winning the title and the winner of this weekend’s match will receive a huge boost. However, Arsenal need to beat Swansea otherwise the gap to the top could get too big.
Meanwhiile Swansea are in 16th, but they are in a very precarious position. The Swans are just three points above the drop zone and haven’t won in four matches. The appointment of Francesco Guidolin helped Swansea to back-to-back wins, which allowed Swansea to climb clear momentarily, but they are now back in the mire and desperately need a couple more victories. Sunderland and Newcastle look like they will be able to pick up points, especially at home, which the upcoming matches against Norwich, Bournemouth and Aston Villa crucial to their survival hopes. If they don’t get at least six points from these matches, then the pressure will grow on the Swans
In their previous meeting this season, Arsenal won 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium. Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Joel Campbell netted the goals for the Gunners. Swansea have had success against the Gunners since they gained promotion in 2011, getting four league wins against Arsene Wenger’s side.
Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere are closing in on a return and should be available again in March. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing until April with a knee injury. Tomas Rosicky is still injured. Olivier Giroud will be pushing for a return after being dropped on Sunday.
Swansea have no injuries going into this week’s match, but could freshen the side up ifrom their loss at the weekend. Leroy Fer and Modou Barrow could be two players to come into the starting eleven.
Arsenal have only won four times in the last ten games, which has seen their title hopes take a hit. They need to go on a winning run again, if they are to overhaul Leicester and Spurs.
Swansea have only failed to score in one game since the appointment of Guidolin.
The Chilean has been poor since returning to action and he needs to step up his performances, if Arsenal are to have a chance of finally lifting the Premier League trophy. This season represents the best chance Arsenal will have to win the league and they need to put a stop to their poor run. Sanchez is one of the best players in the division and he has the quality to reignite Arsenal’s title hopes, but he needs to start performing more consistently. The Chilean has scored only once since his injury and his influence on games is at an all time low since he joined Arsenal. The likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are doing more on the pitch in the attacking third, which shows that Arsenal aren’t reliant on Sanchez, but they need him to start contributing soon, as he is one of the few with the star quality needed to deliver trophies on a regular basis. He won a lot at Barcelona, showing that he has the experience and knowhow in the big matches. Swansea will look to frustrate Arsenal and defend deep, which should allow Sanchez space on the ball in the final third. He will be key in Arsenal’s attempts to breakdown Swansea and this could be the game in which he finally returns to form.
Swansea didn’t strengthen as much as people expected, but they did bring the Italian forward to the club in January and he showed why on Sunday, as he netted his first goal for the club. Sides in the relegation battle need a striker who is able to score the few chances that come his way, and Paloschi showed that at White Hart Lane. Spurs dominated for large periods of the game, but the Italian looked dangerous when Swansea did manage to get in the final third, with his movement being a particular highlight. He managed to get 8 goals in the first half of the season with Chievo, who aren’t one of the strongest sides in Serie A, which shows that he is used to playing in a struggling side. However, Swansea have far more creative players and should be able to feed the striker in the remaining matches. The Welsh club will be restricted to few chances again on Wednesday, and Paloschi will be key in their chances of getting anything out of the game.
Arsenal were very poor against Manchester United and looked vulnerable at the back, which may have been caused by dropping the experienced Per Mertesacker. They looked lively in the final third in the second half, but it wan’t enough, and they need to give a much better performance against Swansea. The Welsh side were hard to beat on Sunday, but the lack of quality showed in the end, and I expect it to be the same on Wednesday. Swansea will be a tough test for Arsenal, but I think that the Gunners will win. Just.