Arsenal faces Swansea in the Premier League and will look for a win against the Welsh side sitting rock bottom in a game that could see Henrikh Mkhitaryan make his Gunners’ debut.
Arsenal will be gunning for an away victory which will only be their fourth all season. The Gunners have had a difficult time on the road this season and where they have dropped massive amounts of points, putting a genuine title challenge in jeopardy.
Arsenal have been in the news with some significant transfer related activity going on at the Emirates and one man they have signed in an exchange with Manchester United this January, Henrikh Mkhitaryan could be in line to make his Arsenal debut against Swansea.
Arsenal, however, know it would not be an easy task to face a team fighting a relegation battle, especially after their performance against Liverpool who failed to break them down and lost the game to a solitary Swans goal.
Arsenal, however, have a great record against a team starting the day at the bottom of the table, having lost only one game in the last 34 against such sides. In the reverse fixture at the Emirates, Arsenal came back from a goal down to beat Swansea, courtesy to goals from Sead Kolasinac and Aaron Ramsey.
Swansea under new manager Carlos Carvahal has played four games, winning two, drawing one and losing another. Statistically, they have gained more points from those four games than they have done in the twelve games before his appointment.
As for Arsenal fans, a debut for Henrikh Mkhitaryan would be the most exciting part, as well as winning away from home to the Premier League’s current rock-bottom team. Any further slip-up could harm Arsenal’s hopes of a top-four finish.
In the last gameweek, Arsenal’s top-four rivals slipped up and with a win against Swansea the Gunners could maintain momentum, but a loss or draw could end up with Arsenal returning their rivals the favour they got during the last matchday.
Team News and Tactics
Carlos Carvahal is unlikely to tweak the team that beat Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium and is likely to stick to the same lineup as well as tactics in hopes of achieving something similar against Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
Regarding returning players, Federico Fernandez is set to return after missing Swansea’s FA Cup draw with Notts County away from home. Fernandez was impressive during the Liverpool game, and Carvahal will be hoping to bank on the Spaniard to keep the defence tight.
Renato Sanches and Angel Rangel are the two absentees for Swansea. Sanches suffered an injury setback against Notts County in the FA Cup 4th round, while only coming back into the game after his first injury in the 3rd round.
Swansea Probable line-up (5-4-1): Lukasz Fabianski; Kyle Naughton, Mike van der Hoorn, Alfie Mawson, Federico Fernandez, Martin Olsson; Sam Clucas, Ki Sung-Yueng, Leroy Fer, Nathan Dyer; Jordan Ayew.
Arsene Wenger has no new injuries after crucial players returned from their respective injuries. Captain Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal returned against Crystal Palace during the last game week.
Monreal, despite been taken off against Palace in the first half, returned quickly to play a starring role against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final midweek. It all means Arsenal have a full-strength defence for their game against Swansea.
Olivier Giroud has returned from his hamstring injury which has kept him out for over a month and is back in training. The Swansea game, however, could be too early for the Frenchman but there are chances he could feature from the bench at some stage.
Wenger could give Henrikh Mkhitaryan his Gunners’ debut, and in this case, the player expected to drop out to the bench could be Mohammed Elneny. Alternatively, it could be Alex Iwobi, if Wenger decides to keep Elneny, as the Egyptian provided greater defensive stability against Chelsea.
In midfield, Aaron Ramsey could be brought back into the starting line-up after featuring from the bench against Palace and Chelsea, as he gets back into shape since returning from his injury as well.
Probable starting line-up: (4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal; Xhaka, Wilshere; Ozil, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette
1. Swansea City have lost four of their last five Premier League meetings with Arsenal (W1), including losing each of the previous three in a row.
2. Carlos Carvalhal will be the seventh different Swansea manager that Wenger has faced in the Premier League, in what is the 14th meeting.
3. Arsenal have scored in all six of their away Premier League games against Swansea – only at West Brom (12), and Birmingham (7) do they have a better 100 per cent record.
4. Arsenal have only lost one of their last 34 Premier League games against the side starting that day bottom of the table (W27 D6), losing 3-4 at Blackburn in September 2011.
5. Swansea have won seven points in their four Premier League games under Carlos Carvalhal (W2 D1 L1), two more than they’d picked up in the 12 games before his appointment (W1 D2 L9).
1. Arsenal to beat Swansea City @ 1.53
2. Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @ 1.95
3. Over 9.5 Corners @ 1.72
1. Over 4.5 Match Goals @ 5.250
Player to Watch
Despite Arsenal’s struggles this season in the league, which sees them sitting in sixth and fighting for a top-four place, Nacho Monreal has been one of their consistent performers. An injury which saw the experienced Spaniard miss a month of action, he returned with a bang.
Against Crystal Palace, he set up two goals and scored one himself before being substituted for another knock. Monreal swiftly returned to the starting line-up against Chelsea and was heavily involved in Arsenal’s equalising goal while also steadying the defence against the Blues.
He is expected to start at left-back against Swansea, and another solid performance could be expected from the defender.
Swansea 0-2 Arsenal
Swansea are expected to retain the tactics which saw them beat Liverpool at home, as the Welsh side kept a watertight defence and restricted Liverpool’s free-flowing, pacey attackers any sniff at their goal.
Arsenal, however, have the quality to break down even the tightest of defences. Considering Swansea’s expected strategy, Arsenal are set to enjoy the majority of possession, something the Gunners’ chief playmaker Mesut Ozil likes.
With the addition of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to their ranks, Arsenal have no shortage of creative options and these players could be key to getting three points at the Liberty City Stadium.