The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Arsenal

Premier League | Liberty Stadium | Sat 28 Sep | 5:30pm

Billed as

Showcase for the Premier League’s brand of tiki-taka football.

The lowdown

David Moyes has conspiracy theories on why his Manchester United side were given such a difficult start to the season, but he should spare a thought for Michael Laudrup. With fewer international superstars at his disposal, the Dane has had to guide his Swansea City side through an equally tough start.

SWANSEA FORM

  • Birmingham 3-1 Swansea (LC)
  • Palace 0-2 Swansea (Prem)
  • Valencia 0-3 Swansea (EL)
  • Swansea 2-2 Liverpool (Prem)
  • West Brom 0-2 Swansea (Prem)

ARSENAL FORM

  • West Brom 1-1p Arsenal (LC)
  • Arsenal 3-1 Stoke (Prem)
  • Marseille 1-2 Arsenal (CL)
  • Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal (Prem)
  • Arsenal 1-0 Spurs (Prem)

After their opening six games, which includes Saturday’s home fixture against Arsenal, the Swans will have faced four teams in last year’s top eight.

Despite this, they have managed to chalk up seven points and steamroller Spanish giants Valencia in the Europa League.

It’s no surprise that Michu has been the Welsh club’s star performer so far. In Swansea’s last Premier League outing – a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace – he netted his fifth goal of the season and 20th in 40 appearances in England’s top flight.

These stats have caught the attention of this weekend’s opponents Arsenal. The Gunners are reportedly interested in bringing Michu to the Emirates Stadium after they missed out on Gonzalo Higuain and Luis Suarez over the summer.

But do they need him? Only Manchester City have scored more goals in the Premier League than Arsenal this season. He could always sit on the bench stroking Nicklas Bendtner’s little samurai beard.

Should that be too weird, he could just sit back and enjoy the show unfolding on the pitch. Top of the league and looking to extend their club record of consecutive away wins in all competitions, Arsenal are the team of the moment. If you include Wednesday’s win in the Capital One Cup (the reserves… ahem… beat West Brom on penalties), the Gunners have won 11 away games on the bounce.

Swansea have collected just one point from their two home games this season. Wednesday’s exit in the Capital One Cup at the hands of Birmingham will have done little to boost their confidence.

Team news

Just as they get Mikel Arteta back out on the pitch, Arsenal’s medical team welcome another wounded soldier into their sickbay: Theo Walcott. The England international is expected to be out for three weeks following stomach surgery. Don’t panic Arsenal fans, Bendtner is back, but it’s too soon for Tomas Rosicky. Ashley Williams and Pablo Hernandez are expected to return to Swansea’s starting line-up after a short injury lay-off.

Player to watch: Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)

He may have only played three games in an Arsenal shirt, but it’s fair to say he’ll never have to pay for a bag of chips in Islington again. Fans, pundits and team-mates alike are all waxing lyrical about the man who could solve a Rubik’s cube with his left foot.

Since signing from Real Madrid he has inspired three victories, all done with ruthless elegance. Stoke were his most recent victims. The German was accurate with 86 percent of his passes, including two assists.

Had Arsenal’s attackers made more of his cunning, their winning margin would have been greater – Ozil made 23 successful passes in the attacking third, seven of which led to goalscoring opportunities. Whoever is tasked with shutting down the master craftsman should take a lasso and tranquilizer and hope for the best.

LAST FIVE MEETINGS

  • Swansea 0-2 Arsenal (Prem, Mar 13)
  • Arsenal 1-0 Swansea (FAC, Jan 13)
  • Swansea 2-2 Arsenal (FAC, Jan 13)
  • Arsenal 0-2 Swansea (Prem, Dec 12)
  • Swansea 3-2 Arsenal (Prem, Jan 12)

The managers

Kindred spirits. Both believe in playing the beautiful game, rather than kick, b*llock and bite.

When the Premier League’s princes of possession go at it on Saturday, expect to see plenty of passing and not much defending. And that’s why we love the Premier League.

Facts and figures

  • Swansea have scored the two fastest Premier League goals in 2013/14 so far (Michu vs Crystal Palace 1:20 & Shelvey v Liverpool 1:27).
  • Arsenal are the only team to score in all five of their Premier League games this season.
  • Seven of the nine goals scored in the four games between Swansea and Arsenal last season came in the final 10 minutes of matches.
  • Both Premier League games between Swansea and Arsenal last season ended as 2-0 away wins.
  • Arsenal scored three goals from set-pieces in their last Premier League game, the first time they had scored this many in a single game since May 2010.
  • Midfield ace Mesut Ozil has assisted more Premier League goals than any other player this season (3).
  • Arsenal have the best shot conversion rate (20.4%) and shooting accuracy (61.1%) in the Premier League this season.
  • Arsenal have won four league games in a row, equalling their best run from last season. Only one team (Man United, seven) won more than four successive league games in 2012/13.
  • Arsenal will equal their best run of Premier League away wins if they win this match (eight).
  • All 11 of Arsenal’s Premier League goals this season have come from inside the penalty area.

FourFourTwo prediction

A good old-fashioned shootout. They’ve played each other four times in the Premier League, recording two wins apiece. Expect in-form Arsenal to add another notch in their win column – 3-1.


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