Monday, December 10, 2018

Swansea 3-1 Arsenal: Mkhitaryan’s debut soured by the soaring Swans

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On a cold and rainy evening in Wales, Arsenal were looking to make it two wins in two games in the league, while Swansea were trying to do the same thing after their huge victory over Liverpool at the same venue last week.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan started on the bench for the visitors as Swansea fielded an unchanged side from their last league game, and it was the hosts that started far brighter as they created a number of chances that saw put Arsenal under a lot of pressure.

However, against the run of play, Nacho Monreal was able to poke home to make it 1-0 before the Swans hit back immediately via Sam Clucas. Jordan Ayew then profited from a poor clearance from Petr Cech before Clucas notched his second goal of the game to win all three points for his side.

For Arsenal, it was another awful trip to Wales, and for the Swans, it was an extension of the elation they were feeling from their last Premier League game.

Swansea start brightly

Following their superb 1-0 win over Liverpool in their last game, Swansea needed to back up this display by putting Arsenal under pressure and trying to force them into mistakes. Carlos Carvalhal will have been all too aware of how important their start would be then.

It was probably as the manager would have wanted, minus a goal of course. Swansea looked to utilise the wet conditions to play some quick football as the ball skidded along the surface. Their lively start seemed to catch the Gunners by surprise as they were twice indebted to key blocks from their players.

Nathan Dyer’s persistence almost paid off as the winger forced Shkodran Mustafi into a poor clearance that fell to Jordan Ayew. The striker then hit an effort that took a deflection off the defender onto the turf before skidding on and bobbling over Petr Cech’s goal. From the resulting corner, Dyer created another chance which saw last week’s goalscorer Alfie Mawson free at the back post, but Aaron Ramsey threw himself in front of the ball, allowing Cech to collect.

While there was no reward for the home side initially, it was exactly the sort of start they would have wanted, and it saw the fans in buoyant mood, with ‘Carvalhal’s Barmy Army’ ringing around the stadium.

Nacho Monreal scores against the run of play

Arsenal’s goal came entirely against the run of play as far as chances were concerned. The home team started well and were showing promising signs and it took the Gunners until the 30th minute to record their first shot, with Alex Iwobi warming the hands of Lukasz Fabianski.

However, such has been the luck of the Swans this season that they found themselves behind despite playing so well. Mesut Ozil, as he so often does, popped up out wide and crossed the ball into Nacho Monreal, who has been enjoying a decent season in front of goal. The Spaniard was able to poke home from close range and give Arsenal a largely undeserved lead.

It was exactly what Arsenal needed as they have not had it all their own way at the Liberty Stadium in the past, and it was a goal that saw the confidence kicked right out of the hosts, who did not deserve to be behind.

Swansea hit back before the celebrations even finish

Just when Arsenal thought they could start to control the game they were dealt a punch that the Swans fully deserved to land.

Ozil, the assister for the Arsenal goal, was the key man again as he this time gave the ball away to Mawson who went marauding forward. The centre-half then channelled his inner midfielder to slide in a lovely pass to Sam Clucas who was able to take a good touch before finishing past Petr Cech, who had come out to close the angle.

The goal sent the fans into wild celebrations as they had probably assumed that the game was about to get away from them. Carvalhal will have been drilling into his team how important it is to show their grit and determination and the fact they are up for the fight of the relegation battle. Well, the Swans showed fighting spirit to get back on level terms before Arsenal’s fans had the chance to finish their celebrations.

Jordan Ayew punishes Arsenal before Clucas secures the points

When you think of Arsenal these days, it is their slick offensive play that comes to mind and not their rock solid defence. Indeed, they have been very poor at the back this season and it has undermined their campaign so far.

There was a moment of ineptitude at the back which was about as comical as it gets. Monreal’s quick throw-in was one that heaped pressure on Mustafi who in turn played a very poor back-pass to Petr Cech, and his clearance was awful, thus allowing Ayew to tap the ball home.

Just when Arsenal were really starting to put their mark on the match, they were undone by a piece of play that would be more at home in a comedy sketch than in a Premier League game.

Arsenal were then killed off in the game as Clucas notched his second goal of the match following a poor clearance from Monreal. The mistake allowed Ayew to burst into the box and square the ball to Clucas who smashed home to make it 3-1. It was no more than the Swans deserved as they had been incredibly brave throughout the contest, looking to match Arsenal.

Arsenal flounder in Wales

It was a game that few Arsenal fans would have thought they would lose, but they faced a long trip back to the capital of England after being forced to watch a demoralising loss for their side. Arsenal started slowly and were pegged back immediately after they scored, and despite dominating early in the second-half, they were undone by errors at the back, which has been the story of their season so far.

Swansea on the other hand have moved off the bottom of the table and they are out of the relegation zone. It seems incredible that two games ago they were adrift and staring at two huge matches against Liverpool and Arsenal with the potential of damaging losses. Instead, they have come out with six points against two of England’s best teams, and they didn’t ever really look like they were massively under pressure.

Swansea City: Fabianski 6 – Naughton 6, van der Hoorn 7, Fernandez 7, Mawson 8, Olsson 6 – Dyer 7 (Carroll 6), Fer 7, Ki 7, Clucas 8 (Routledge 6) – Ayew 8 (Bony 6) .

Unused subs: Nordfeldt, Abraham, Narsingh, Bartley.

Arsenal: Cech 4 – Bellerin 5, Mustafi 5, Koscielny 5, Monreal 4 – Ramsey 5, Elneny 5 (Mkhitaryan 5), Xhaka 5 – Ozil 6, Lacazette 5, Iwobi 5 (Giroud 5).

Unused subs: Ospina, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Kolasinac, Nketiah.

Referee: Lee Mason.


Benjamin Darvill

Ben is an English and creative writing graduate that is now working his way up in the world of sports journalism. Having been writing for the last four years, Ben has written for a number of websites specialising in sport, with football a particular passion. He is a long-suffering England fan and eternal optimist when it comes to the Three Lions.



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