Premier League – Arsenal v Swans at 19:45 on Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
Referee: Robert Madley
Assistants: P Kirkup, S Burt
Fourth Official: K Friend
The Swans return to North London for the second time in four days to face an Arsenal team still reeling from a tame defeat to Manchester United last Sunday, whilst hoping for a better return themselves than what they got at White Heart lane.
Although very few people expected us to get anything out of the Tottenham game, taking an early lead and Lukasz Fabianski’s heroics made the expected defeat all that much harder to take, as there were points there for the taking.
Of course whilst many people have criticised the Swans overall performance against Spurs – citing a lack of ambition and defending too deep – they would do well do remember how well Tottenham are playing this season.
But Sunday is now firmly in the past and the Swans must look to do at least as well against an Arsenal side who are once again in the media spotlight, after a goalless draw with Championship Hull and successive defeats against Barcelona and Manchester United.
There is little doubt that pressure is mounting on Wenger’s side, especially as they now also trial behind bitter rivals Spurs in the title race.
The truth be told, there is probably more pressue on Arsenal to win than the Swans, with the Gunners losing ground in the title race and Spurs up next, whilst the Swans have 3 back-to-back game against their relegation rivals.
Unexpected points for the Swans would be a massive bonus, anything less than 3 for the Gunners could leave their title aspirations in tatters.
Successive defeats for the Swans against Southampton and Spurs have blemished what was a decent start to the Francesco Guidolin reign and Arsenal will provide another stern test for his team.
Swansea do not have any injury worries once again, although coach Francesco Guidolin has been struggling with a chest infection and was too ill to face the media after Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Spurs, leaving Alan Curtis to the media duties.
It is unlikely that Guidolin will tinker much, if at all, with the formation or personnel from those who took the field against Spurs. After making his Swans debut against Spurs, Leroy Fer may replace Leon Britton in midfield.
Whatever side the Swans put out, one thing they must do is defend set-pieces better, having conceded five times (out of 6 goals!) from corners.
Arsenal will be without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because of a knee injury and are still missing Jack Wilshere, Thomas Rosicky and Santi Cazorla. If Danny Welbeck plays, the Swans defence will do well to remember that he has scored three goals in four Premier League outings against them!
The Gunners home record is excellent having won eight and lost just one of their last 12 home league matches but the Swans haven’t lost on their last three visits to the Emirates, with two wins and a draw.
I can’t help but feel that the longer the Swans can keep the Gunners from scoring, the more they will crank up the pressure on Wenger’s team and if we do that, then I quite fancy us grabbing a point at the Emirates.
Arsenal 2 Swans 2
What the Pundits Think
Mark Lawrenson (BBC) – Arsenal 2 Swans 0
Arsenal are my tip for the title but they were so disappointing in their defeat by Manchester United on Sunday. The Gunners have so many good players but they are such a strange team – every time you think they will kick on, they throw in a performance like that. Swansea put up a good fight against Tottenham and Lukasz Fabianski made some great saves to keep them in it, but they still lost and it is hard to see them getting anything at Emirates Stadium. To have any hope of winning the title, Arsenal quite simply have to win. If they don’t, for whatever reason, their fans are going to have a real moan. Even if they do, there are going to be a lot of people doubting the Gunners ahead of Saturday’s north London derby.”
Paul Merson (Sky Sports) – Arsenal 2 Swans 0
I agree with Graeme Souness that Arsenal were a joke on Sunday, but I believe they will beat Swansea at home. They simply have to win this because if they lose and Leicester win, then it’s goodnight for the title race. It would be an eight-point gap to Leicester and they’re also chasing Tottenham who have a much better goal difference. For that reason, I’d say this is probably the biggest game of the season so far for Arsenal. Swansea had a kick in the teeth after losing from 1-0 up at Spurs and they are probably the perfect team for Arsenal to play this week because they’re a nice team who won’t kick Arsenal off the pitch. Arsenal should win – but if they don’t score in the first 20 minutes, it could get very cagey.”
John Motson (MOTD Commentator)
Arsenal’s poor performance against Manchester United has been roundly criticised by all and sundry, but everybody has got a bit carried away. While the focus has now turned to their trip to Tottenham on Saturday, this game with Swansea could be even more pivotal. If they don’t win, their title chances would be all but over. It’s not a game they can take lightly, either. Swansea have a good record at the Emirates, with two wins and a draw on their last three visits, and they gave Tottenham a good run for their money on Sunday. With three games to come against fellow relegation rivals, the Swans would love to go into those fixtures on the back of a morale-boosting result.”
Last meeting at White Heart Lane
11 May 2015: Arsenal 0 Swans 1
Current League Form (Last 6)
Predicted Swans Starting XI:
Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams (Capt), Taylor, Fer, Cork, Ki, Sigurdsson, Ayew, Paloschi.
At the Bookies
Those of you who fancy a flutter might want to check out the odds being offered on the game at the moment and here are a list of our top picks.
Get odds of 11/1 on Alberto Paloschi to score first.
Get odds of 33/1 on Alberto Paloschi scoring a brace.
Get odds of 11/2 on the match to end as a 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 draw.
Get odds of 9/1 on the Swans to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1.
Let us know your thoughts – whether on the game or the betting odds(!) using the comment box below 🙂