Arsenal 1-2 Swansea review
Posted by Matt Walters | Published on March 3, 2016
Swansea travelled to North London for the second time in 4 days to play title-chasing Arsenal in a key clash for both clubs. Swansea knew a win would put them 6 points clear of the relegation zone while Arsenal had to win to end their blip in pursuit of their first title since 2004.
Before a ball had been kicked, Swansea manager Francesco Guidolin was taken to hospital with a chest infection that had kept him off media duties in the build-up to the match. Ever-present understudy and club legend Alan Curtis sat in the Swansea dugout in his place.
Swansea made several changes to the team that lost to Arsenal’s rivals Spurs the previous weekend, the most notable coming at left-back where Wales international Neil Taylor was dropped to make way for Scotsman Stephen Kingsley to make his Premier League debut. Leroy Fer also made his full debut for the club.
Arsenal, playing a much stronger side, stormed into attack instantly and almost scored within minutes of kick-off as Sanchez’s shot cannoned off the frame of the goal. The Gunners took a lead soon after with the Chilean winger clipping a ball forward to Costa Rican Joel Campbell who slid the ball past Fabianski to get his second in two appearances against the South Wales side.
Before half an hour had passed, Leroy Fer sent the ball rifling forwards from 25 yards but dragged it wide of the post. It was of little relevance later as former Chelsea man Jack Cork found former Spurs man Wayne Routledge who had drifted away from his marker. The winger hadn’t scored since a brace in Swansea’s 7-2 win away at Tranmere Rovers in January 2014 but he made no mistake, taking a good touch to compose himself before placing it beyond Cech. The goal came with controversy however as Jordi Amat wrestled Mesut Özil to the ground to win the ball and pass it to Cork in the build up. It was no excuse for the ease with which 31-year old Routledge had slipped through a shaky Arsenal defence. Mertesacker’s cushioned header landed in front of Giroud but he could only smash the crossbar from close range.
At half-time South Korea captain, Ki Sung-Yueng came off for another former Spurs man Gylfi Sigurdsson. The midfielder crafted himself a golden opportunity on the 65th minute as he beat Gabriel and rounded Cech only to miss the target from a tight angle but one at which he would have expected to score. Alexis Sanchez hit the crossbar again as his free kick deflected off Sigurdsson’s head and onto the woodwork.
As the last 15 minutes approached, Swansea was given a free-kick in a good crossing position. Sigurdsson whipped it in and Jordi Amat’s leap seemed to catch Petr Cech in two minds. The Spaniard missed the ball and it instead landed at the feet of Ashley Williams who was left with a tap in to claim his second goal of the campaign.
Arsenal was searching for an equaliser but their poor chance creation, as well as their rusty finishing and poor substitutions from manager Arsene Wenger, meant that the Gunners were beaten at home again by the Swans who have now won 3 games at the Emirates and lost only once. Their next three games are Norwich at home, Bournemouth away and Villa at the Liberty meaning that this match gives the team confidence ahead of three season-defining games. Additionally, Swansea seemed to ditch the diamond; as fans had been calling to do and they looked all the better for it, with Routledge and Ayew able to have a greater effect on the attack.