Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Swansea 1 Arsenal 2

A door opened for Arsenal on Saturday and, despite a stumbling start, they ultimately strode confidently through.

It is only September but defeats to Manchester City and Manchester United earlier in the day, coupled with the draw between Chelsea and Tottenham, added up to an alluring opportunity that was gratefully seized.

An eighth straight away win not only equals a Premier League record that was also set by Arsenal in 2001-2 but enhanced their place at the top of the table and extended the gap over City and United respectively to five and eight points.

That 2001-2 campaign ended with a Premier League/FA Cup double and, while it would be premature to dream of such success this season, there is a tangible new consistency and resilience about Arsène Wenger’s this season.

This 2-1 win ultimately hinged on a spellbinding five-minute burst of football when goals from Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey sealed two wonderful passing moves.

Mathieu Flamini and Aaron Ramsey were both declared availabl only after late fitness tests, affording Wenger the rare luxury of fielding a team that was unchanged from last week’s 3-1 win over Stoke City.

The absence through injury of their best four wide players – Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – again meant that 18-year-old Serge Gnabry was asked to play on the right and Jack Wilshere out of position on the left.

Arsenal’s bench, however, was testament to a steadily improving situation in the treatment room and contained six senior internationals as well as Mikel Arteta.

An ankle injury meant that Swansea City were without Ashley Williams in central defence but, with Jordi Amat taking his place, there was no impact on their usual slick passing rhythm and they made a far more fluid start.

Jose Canas had clearly been given the specific task of neutralising Mesut Özil in front of Swansea’s defence but he was also hugely effective in dictating the entire tempo of the match for Swansea.

Creating clear chances was rather more difficult and, with the exception of a Jonjo Shelvey shot that whistled harmlessly over, Swansea were struggling to turn their early possession into a clear chance. Indeed, it was only a mistake in the Arsenal defence that actually resulted in their best first-half chance.

Wojciech Szczesny had badly miss-controlled a back-pass from Ramsey on the edge of his penalty area and, under pressure from Michu, the ball ended up with Wayne Routledge whose cross in front of an empty goal went agonisingly wide.

Arsenal had been reduced simply to chasing the ball throughout most of the first half, with the absence of Walcott’s pace especially noticeable even when they did gain possession and have the chance to inflict damage on the break.

Özil was struggling to find any space with Amat constantly on his heels, Gnabry was generally occupied with covering the runs of Swansea left-back Ben Davies while Wilshere continues to look relatively disorientated out on the left.

Arsenal’s midfield base of Flamini and Ramsey were also struggling to gain any control of the game against Shelvey and Jonathan de Guzman. Ramsey, whose Cardiff links ensured that every touch was greeted by Swansea boos, did shoot one first-half chance narrowly wide but was otherwise uncharacteristically peripheral.

It all added up to no meaningful service for Olivier Giroud right up until added time of the first-half when he wasted a wonderful chance to put Arsenal into a barely deserved lead.

Having finally got on the ball, Gnabry threaded a pass through Swansea’s defence but, with only Michel Vorm to beat, Giroud dragged his shot wastefully wide. The biggest positive for Arsenal had been the continued quality of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker’s centre-back partnership.

After such a tepid first-half performance, Arsenal showed far purpose immediately after the restart. With assistant manager Steve Bould urging the team not to defend so deeply, the began both pushing Swansea back and getting Özil on the ball more regularly. He quickly created a sight of goal for Gnabry, although his low shot was saved by Vorm.

More importantly, Özil’s influence in stepping out and linking the play was encouraging the rest of the midfield to play further forward and there followed a prolonged period of Arsenal possession.

A wonderful move followed, ending with Wilshere feeding Giroud who in turn moved the ball on to Ramsey to split the defence for Gnabry. With his range seemingly found after the earlier miss, Gnabry drilled his low finish past Vorm and inside the post.

Arsenal then should have doubled their lead with the very next attack but, with Ramsey again brilliantly dissecting Swansea’s defence, Özil’s finish was parried to safety by Vorm.

Ramsey had become the dominant player in the match and was both the architect and finisher for Arsenal’s second. Having won the ball and sprayed a wonderful cross-field pass to Wilshere, Ramsey galloped forward. Another excellent interchange of passing followed between Wilshere and Giroud, with Ramsey joining them in the penalty area and driving his shot into the roof of the goal.

With daylight having been created by Arsenal in the space of four minutes, Swansea actually regrouped and again took hold of possession. They continued to create few clear chances little, however, with Nathan Dyer their most threatening player and provoking one particularly eye-catching save from Szczesny. Wilfried Bony also got himself one-on-one with Szczesny who was able to deflect his near-post shot to safety.

Swansea did then underline their continued threat and Davies’ persistence was rewarded when he broke forward, exchanged passes with Bony and got in front of Mertesacker to direct the ball past Szczesny.

Arsenal also survived a late penalty appeal when the ball was shot into the arm of Flamini. Referee Mark Clattenburg waved play-on and Arsenal continue to march on.

Source: Telegraph

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