The Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday – September 10, 2011
2200 hours IST (+0530 GMT) – Live on ESPN India
The international break is over at last and the Premier league action returns this Saturday. After an action packed transfer deadline day, the fans will get to see many of the new signings in action for the first time.
How many of us would have believed if someone has told us that, Swansea City will be placed higher in the table than Arsenal after three matches? The Gunners having secured just one point from the first three rounds of matches will finally look to get their season started, as they host Swansea City at the Emirates.
It has been the most difficult start to the season for the Gunners. Three matches have been played and they are still looking for the first win of the season. Having drawn their first match at Newcastle followed by a defeat to Liverpool at home, Arsenal were in need of a result against Manchester United last week. The events that followed was shocking to say the least, as they suffered their worst defeat with a humiliating score line of 8 – 2. Things went from bad to worse! Arsenal missed a lot of their first team players in that match due to suspension and injuries. Despite these reasons, it was a match that highlighted how far behind the pecking order the Gunners have fallen down. There was a sense of panic in the team, among the fans and in Wenger as well. The result forced Arsene Wenger to spend in the transfer market. He signed as many as five new players (Park Chu Young, Andre Santos, Per Mertesacker, Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta) before the window closed.
For Arsenal, this will be like a new beginning, the first 3 matches have been a nightmare, and they would like to forget all that. They will hope the new signings can have an immediate impact and that Arsenal’s season will be resurrected. For Arsenal the new season will start on 10th of September.
Swansea, the first Welsh side in the Premier League since its inception, will face Arsenal for the first time since 1983. Swansea City is still looking for their first win of the season. After a disappointing start against Manchester City away and a draw against Wigan at home, they missed a glorious opportunity to claim their first victory against Sunderland last week. The game ended in a 0 – 0 draw as Danny Graham missed couple of great chances for the host.
Swansea had their fair share of drama on the deadline day of the transfer window. Apart from Gerhard Tremmel, who actually signed a day before the deadline, Situ and Halliche’s signing was still subject to clearance from the Premier League and FIFA respectively. There have been mentions in the media that Fulham sent the paper for Halliche’s loan move 20 minutes too late, and Swans boss Brendan Rodgers is still waiting to see if he’ll have Situ and Halliche available in his squad. Swansea have confirmed they have received international clearance from FIFA over the transfer deadline day signing of Federico Bessone from Leeds.
Swansea, in all regards, will be happy to get a draw at the Emirates. They will believe that they have great opportunity against this Arsenal team which lacks confidence at the moment.
Team News and Tactical Brief
More bad news awaited Gooners this week as Thomas Vermaelen was sidelined for nearly two months following his surgery on his left ankle. The injury list keeps on growing for them as the Belgium International joins Wilshere, Diaby, Squillaci and Gibbs on the treatment table. Sagna, who missed out Arsenal’s last game at Old Trafford due to illness, is set to return to first team action this week. Meanwhile new recruit Gervinho, Jenkinson and Alex Song will serve their suspensions from the sidelines. Frimpong, who recently chose to play for Ghana over England, is set to return this week after serving his suspension. This Saturday, it might be a new look Arsenal team that takes on the pitch. Andre Santos, the new arrival from Fenerbahce, is set to start his first game at Left Back. Per Mertesacker will get a start alongside Koscielny following Vermaelen’s injury.
It will be interesting to see how Wenger sets up his midfield in this match. Theo Walcott, who missed out England’s game due to illness, is set to return against Swansea. Arteta might get a start ahead of Rosicky, alongside Ramsey and Frimpong. While, it will be a close call between Arshavin and Benayoun for a place in the starting eleven. Van Persie, who returns after an impressive outing for Holland, looks in ominous touch at the moment. Park Chu Young, the South Korean international, is likely to start from the Bench after an impressive display for his national team. The international break came at a good time for Arsenal, as they look to bounce back from their horrendous display at Manchester.
Probable Starting XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Santos, Frimpong, Arshavin, Ramsey, Arteta, Walcott, Van Persie
Swansea City is yet to score a goal in their 3 matches so far. They will be boosted by the arrival of Tremmel and Bessone. Bessone, the former Leeds united Left back will add depth to the squad. Situ and Halliche’s signing are still pending confirmation and are unlikely to play any part in this weekend’s match. Michel Vorm, the Dutch custodian, has been the star performer for Swansea this season so far and will look to keep the Arsenal attack at bay. Danny Graham, who has been arguably Swansea’ biggest signing this season, looks a threat on the pitch but will have to work on his finishing. Ashley Williams has been a solid performer for Swansea as well, and will start this match with lots of expectations on his shoulders. Scott Sinclair, Swansea’s star man last season, has had a disappointing start to the season so far and will be looking to get his form back. Brendon Rodgers is most likely to pack the midfield with five players, leaving Graham on his own at the top, with Dyer and Sinclair looking to support the front man when possible. Leroy Lita will provide another attacking option for Rodgers from the bench. Alan Tate and Ferrie Bodde are still injured for Swansea.
Possible Starting XI: Vorm, Williams, Caulker, Taylor, Rangel, Britton, Agustien, Sinclair, Dyer, Routledge, Graham
Key Match Facts
- During Arsene Wenger’s reign, Arsenal have averaged more points per game (2.10) than any other Premier League team in the month of September.
- Ashley Williams for Swansea has attempted more passes than any other top flight player this season (235).
- Arsenal have used more players than any other side in the league this season (23).
- Arsenal have taken just 13 points from their last 14 Premier League games.
- Arsenal have never lost three consecutive home games in the Premier League. (They have lost the last two home matches against Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively)
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
The Spaniard will be under the spot light as he looks to make his debut after his much talked about transfer from Everton on the deadline day. Arsenal seemed to have lost its creative edge following the departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri along with injury to Wilshere. Arteta will look to revitalize the Arsenal attack. He is known for his ability to pick up a pass and is deadly from set pieces as well. The Gooners will hope he can weave his magic, as they prepare for a new era at the club.
Arsenal 3 – 0 Swansea
Wenger will look for a quick response from his side following the debacle at Old Trafford. The international break has given the team, time to galvanize once again. Most of the Arsenal players who were away for their national duty have looked in great form. The new signings will lift the spirit in the dressing room. Expect Swansea to face a tough outing at the Emirates. Swansea haven’t scored yet in the league, don’t expect that to change in this match. Arsenal should be able to turn on the style and cruise to victory on Saturday.