Arsenal begin a pivotal week in their challenge for the Premier League title against Swansea City on Wednesday with goalkeeper Petr Cech still upbeat they can lift the trophy despite a disappointing weekend defeat to Manchester United.
Having seen off league leaders Leicester City in their previous encounter, Arsenal failed to maintain the pressure on the Midlands club as Arsene Wenger’s men slumped to a 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford, 18-year-old Marcus Rashford putting the Gunners to the sword with two goals.
Though Arsenal are winless in three games across all competitions, they have not lost back-to-back Premier League fixtures all season.
They ought to treat Swansea with caution, however. The Welsh side have emerged victorious from as many meetings (four) as Arsenal since their promotion to the Premier League in 2011.
But Cech is determined to bounce back in order to gather momentum ahead of next weekend’s crucial north-London derby at Tottenham, as the Gunners’ hopes of a first title since 2004 continue to be threatened by their near neighbours.
“We still have a chance, so we will go for it until the last minute,” Cech said after the reverse to United.
“This was a big disappointment for us and is a step back after last week, where we managed to overcome a deficit against Leicester at home. This is a step back but we need to keep working.
“It’s a step back but we can still make up for this. We have two important games coming up this week and if we manage to win both, the table might look better again.”
Arsenal are without Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain because of a knee injury and are still missing Jack Wilshere (ankle), Thomas Rosicky (thigh) and Santi Cazorla (knee).
Swansea do not have any injury concerns, 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 Tottenham.
The Welsh club took the lead through Alberto Paloschi at White Hart Lane but Nacer Chadli and Danny Rose struck to turn things around in the second half for title-chasing Spurs.
Just three points separate Swansea from the relegation zone but midfielder Leroy Fer is remaining upbeat.
He told the club’s website: “It’s disappointing to have lost and leave Spurs with nothing, but we have to keep our heads up and go again on Wednesday.
“There are positives to take from Sunday’s game, and we will take that to the Emirates on Wednesday.
“We have a strong squad here, and everyone is desperate to do their part to help the team get points.”
Key Opta Stats:
– Danny Welbeck has scored three goals in four Premier League games against Swansea.
– The Gunners have won eight and lost just one of their last 12 Premier League matches at the Emirates Stadium.
– Only bottom of the league side Aston Villa (10.1 per cent) have a lower shot conversion rate than Swansea City (11.1 per cent) this season in the Premier League.
– Arsenal have lost their last two competitive matches – they have not lost three in a row in all competitions since April 2010.
– This is Swansea City’s worst tally of points in a Premier League season after 27 games (27).