Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Swansea 3 Arsenal 2

It was billed as the clash of the Premier League’s two aesthetes and, on this evidence, Swansea City can now lay justifiable claim to the accolade of best footballing team in Britain.

For make no mistake, Arsenal were not out-fought, outworked or outmuscled at the Liberty Stadium this afternoon. They were simply outplayed, out-thought and out-passed.

In short, they were given the sort of lesson in possession football that they have routinely dished out to the rest of the Premier League over the past 15 years.

Yes, they had justifiable complaint about Swansea’s first goal, but the 3-2 scoreline was no more than Swansea had merited on the pattern of play.

A game that will have thrilled neutrals is likely to have horrified Arsene Wenger in equal measure. Not only were his team overrun in midfield, but his decision not to bring in short-term defensive reinforcements now looks horribly misjudged.

Just as in the previous defeat against Fulham, Arsenal were badly exposed at full-back, with Ignasi Miquel – who is a right-sided central defender by trade – enduring an especially torrid afternoon at left-back.

Arsenal, though, struck first in a remarkable game, with Robin van Persie needing only four minutes to provide an answer to the question of whether he would be inhibited by the return to the Arsenal squad of Thierry Henry.

Alex Song had collected possession in the centre of midfield and threaded a pass straight through Swansea’s midfield to Andrei Arshavin.

Having started wide on the left, Arshavin had drifted into a preferred central position and threaded a perfectly weighted pass between Swansea’s Steven Caulker and Ashley Williams.

Caulker had played Van Persie onside, but Williams was also culpable for leaving the Premier League’s most potent striker far too much space.

It has been 13 days since Van Persie last played but the short rest seemed only to have added to his sharpness. He initially feigned to shoot, wrong-footing both Caulker and goalkeeper Michel Vorm before directing his shot into a narrow gap just inside the near-post.

It was Van Persie’s 22nd of the season and, after his annus mirabilis in 2011, the first of 2012.

Arsenal looked in the mood to exploit Swansea’s open style but the pattern changed on a single moment of controversy. After some typically quick passing, Scott Sinclair found Nathan Dyer just inside the Arsenal penalty area.

Dyer had his back to goal but, as he tried to turn into a more inviting position, he collided with Aaron Ramsey.

The contact looked minimal and Ramsey raised his arms as if to claim his innocence but referee Michael Oliver, who was this week promoted onto Fifa’s elite list of officials, did not hesitate in awarding a penalty.

Wenger, who was unusually attired in a touchline tracksuit, looked disgusted but Sinclair confidently finished to Szczesny’s right. Replays suggested that both Ramsey and Wenger could justifiably feel aggrieved.

Swansea confidence was noticeably lifted and they began to settle into their wonderful passing rhythm. With Arshavin, Yossi Benayoun and Theo Walcott both peripheral, Arsenal were left chasing shadows for much of the first-half.

Swansea consistently posed their greatest threat by pressurising Johan Djourou and Miquel, Arsenal’s two makeshift full-backs.

Dyer, especially, was posing problems to Miquel down the left and forced one good save from Szczesny. He also cut inside at the beginning of the second-half, but his curling shot sailed wide of the top right corner.

With the match so open, Arsenal continued to create chances on the counter-attack. Benayoun, who was starting in place of the injured Mikel Arteta, exposed another large hole between Williams and Caulker.

Van Persie had exploited the space with typical efficiency but his shot appeared rushed and was comfortably blocked by Vorm.

It also proved only to be a brief interruption to the pattern of Swansea pressure. Swansea were sharper both in possession and in their pressing, with both facets of their game evident in their second game.

Arshavin had played a poorly-weighted pass to Ramsey who, under pressure from Joe Allen, lost control of the ball.

Allen immediately spotted Dyer in space and played a precise pass that was comfortably finished beyond Szczesny.

The subconscious temptation for Swansea must have been to sit back and preserve their lead, but they continued to push for a third.

Wenger responded with two changes, bringing on Thierry Henry and Tomas Rosicky. It provoked both a brief period of pressure and an equalising goal.

Williams, again, was punished for a loss of concentration, playing Walcott onside as Djourou’s hopeful ball forward turned into a defence-splitting pass.

There was still work to do but Walcott kept his composure, waiting for Vorm to go to ground before gently lifting his finish above Vorm.

Parity lasted less than a minute. Miquel, yet again, was caught hopelessly out of position, with Gylfi Sigurdsson releasing Danny Graham to finish confidently past Szczesny and seal a memorable Swansea victory.

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