Arsenal vs Swansea: Match preview and predicted line-ups
Arsenal host Bob Bradley’s Swansea City on Saturday afternoon, in a game that might not be as straightforward for the Gunners as the form guide suggests. The Swans have an exceptionally good record at the Emirates; in fact, Arsenal have not recorded a home league win over them since August 2011. Since then, the Welsh outfit have picked up three wins and a draw on their trips to north London and they are aiming for a third consecutive win in N5.
Given that Swansea are not a particularly physical team and are known for trying to play out from the back, this is an odd record; they are the type of side you would expect Arsenal to roll over routinely. Things look fairly bleak for Swansea though following the dismissal of Francesco Guidolin, and they sit outside the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference only. Arsene Wenger’s side are going well, and have recovered impressively from their opening day loss to Liverpool. They need to keep their momentum, something that isn’t always easy across an international break.
Arsenal are aiming for a sixth successive league victory having recorded away wins at Watford, Hull and Burnley and beaten Southampton and Chelsea at the Emirates. They laboured to a 2-1 win over the Saints courtesy of a late Santi Cazorla penalty after the last international break and will want a more comfortable afternoon against Swansea. Guidolin departed after Swansea’s 2-1 home loss to Liverpool last time out, and are without a league win since the opening weekend of the season. Losses against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool can be accounted for, but the performances during away defeats at Leicester and Southampton did for the Italian.
Arsenal starting XI Swansea starting XI
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Injuries and Suspensions
Francis Coquelin and Lucas Perez are fully available after recovering from minor injuries, while striker Olivier Giroud has a chance to be in the squad following a toe injury. Aaron Ramsey is back in training but will not be risked. Danny Welbeck and Per Mertesacker are long-term absentees. Nathan Dyer is ruled out for Swansea with a foot injury, while Federico Fernandez, Fernando Llorente and Jefferson Montero are all rated 50:50 to make Bradley’s first Premier League 18.
The form book suggests that Arsenal should sweep Swansea aside without too much trouble, while the history books suggest the Swans could frustrate them. Much will depend on how quickly Wenger’s side can recalibrate after the break and find their rhythm, while the visitors are something of an unknown quantity under new manager Bradley. The Gunners struggled to break down a deep-lying and disciplined Burnley defence last time out, and Swansea will try to recreate the Clarets’ approach. Some Gooners feel that their fast and fluid attack of Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Alex Iwobi will struggle against a ‘parked bus’ that doesn’t leave much grass in behind. However, they broke down Basel and Hull with the minimum of fuss; two teams that tried to sit off them. If Arsenal start this game with the right intensity, they should triumph quite comfortably.
Verdict: HOME WIN