30 October 2015

Sorry, Swansea, but your timing couldn't be worse...

After bowing out of the League Cup in somewhat shocking fashion, it's reassuring if nothing else to get back to proper Prem play. That we've now lost Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain is a setback worse than having lost to Sheffield Wednesday. Heck, Swansea lost in the previous round, part of a recent run of poor form that has undone their respectable start, the one that saw earn a draw at Stamford Bridge and defeat Man U as well, rising to as high as fourth. Since then, however, they've taking on water and have sunked to twelfth.

Our own spate of injuries suggests that we shouldn't feel all that confident, though, especially against a club we've struggled against recently, having failed to defeat them in our last three. Our biggest question, of course, will be what to do on the right wing. There have been calls to move Cazorla over or to throw on a youngster like Iwobi, who looked decent in stretches against Sheffield. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and place all of my eggs into the basket-case that is Joel Campbell. No, he didn't look all that convincing on Tuesday. Who did, though? Those who ask that we move Alexis or Cazorla to the right have to ask themselves what they do next. In the first case, do we then move Gibbs to left wing? In the second, who plays alongside Coquelin? Rather than this elaborate three-card monty approach, it's best in my mind to keep the rest of the lineup intact, throw Campbell on, and see what he'll do.

If nothing else, his speed and work-rate should give Swansea's Montero something to think about, and Campbell and Bellerín together, if only through sheer velocity, can pin him back while overwhelming Taylor on Swansea's left flank. The real threat we have to neutralise, though, is Bafétimbi Gomis, who scored two gamewinners against us last season and has four goals in the current campaign. He has a knack for popping up in the most inconvenient of places at the most inconvenient of times. He's hit a bit of a dry spell lately, though, failing to score in his last seven outings. I'd expect to see Mertesacker rested after playing the full 90' on Tuesday, with Gabriel and Koscielny pairing to negate Gomis.

If anything, our loss on Tuesday spells bad news for Swansea, even if we didn't field a full-strength squad and looked diffident throughout. We have a habit of bouncing back from defeats, even of the more-stinging variety. Meanwhile, Swansea could barely find a way past Aston Villa last week, needing a late goal from André Ayew to see off the cellar-dwellers.

LAST 3
Arsenal 0-1 Swansea (11.05.2015)
Swansea 2-1 Arsenal (09.11.2014)
Arsenal 2-2 Swansea (25.03.2014)

FACTFILE
Arsenal have fared better against Swansea as visitors (W2, D1) than as hosts (W1, L1, D1).
Arsenal have won nine of their last 11 away matches in the Prem.
The two sides first met on 10 October 1981, a 2-0 win to Swansea.

INJURIES
Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Wilshere, Welbeck, Arteta, Ospina and Rosický are all sidelined.

POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Čech; Monreal, Gabriel, Koscielny, Bellerín; Coquelin, Cazorla; Alexis, Özil, Campbell; Giroud.

Swansea are better than their position suggests, but they won't have quite enough to overcome an Arsenal determined to remind the Prem that they mean business.

PREDICTION 
Swansea 1-3 Arsenal