Joel Campbell made the most of Arsenal’s injury problems with a goal on his first Premier League start as Arsene Wenger’s men beat Swansea City 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
Without Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gabriel due to injuries sustained in a midweek League Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday, Arsene Wenger’s men were sluggish in the first half but clicked after the break as Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Campbell claimed maximum points.
A Bafetimbi Gomis one-on-one and Per Mertesacker’s apparent handball gave Arsenal scares, but Giroud glanced home a corner to register the 2,000th goal of Wenger’s reign shortly after the interval.
And the visitors doubled their lead through Koscielny midway through the second half when former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski spilled a cross, before Campbell marked his maiden top-flight start with his first goal for the club.
Swansea – let down by their lack of cutting edge – will feel hard done by at not having extended their recent hold on Arsenal, who keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table.
Wenger – also without the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere – will take heart from the clinical display from his patched-up side ahead of their Champions League clash at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Swansea had the better of the frenetic opening stages but Campbell curled an effort wide 15 minutes in before Gomis spurned Swansea’s first chance shortly after, dawdling when through on goal following a wonderful Jonjo Shelvey pass, allowing Hector Bellerin to sprint back and clear the danger.
The lively Gomis threatened again with a header shortly before Giroud turned an effort over the crossbar in similar fashion to Campbell’s earlier effort.
Despite both sides contributing to an entertaining first half, neither found an advantage before the break although the visitors were perhaps fortunate not to concede a penalty when Mertesacker appeared to handle Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick.
Giroud gave Wenger a scare late in the half when he suffered a knock during a tangle with Jefferson Montero, but the Frenchman recovered to open the scoring early in the second period.
Evading Ashley Williams, Giroud headed home Mesut Ozil’s corner to mark his 150th Arsenal appearance with a well-taken effort.
Sigurdsson forced Petr Cech into a smart save to his left shortly after, while the dangerous Andre Ayew continued to pose problems of the visitors’ back line.
Arsenal struggled to muster much attacking threat in the immediate aftermath of their opener, but doubled their lead eight minutes after the hour-mark when Koscielny prodded home after Fabianski was unable to take a catch.
Monk and his players were furious that Kevin Friend failed to award a foul following Bellerin’s cross, but it mattered little when Ozil jinked into the area and crossed for Campbell, who made the most of a rare opportunity up front with the final goal.
Swansea remain winless at home in the league since late August while Arsenal warm up for their crucial trip to Munich with victory.
Key Opta stats:
– Mesut Ozil has made more assists (22) than any other Premier League player since his debut in September 2013.
– Laurent Koscielny scored in back-to-back games for the first time in his Arsenal career.
– Joel Campbell is the sixth Campbell to score in the Premier League (after Kevin, Sol, DJ, Andy and Frazier).
– The Gunners have scored three or more goals in three consecutive away Premier League games for the first time since December 2013.
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