By Bulldog Drummond
And so to the final part of the match preview… and in case you missed the story thus far here it is
- Arsenal v Swansea. Mr Wenger on saints, billionaires and celebrity.
- Arsenal v Swansea City Saturday October 28 – The Match officials – a ref who makes a fool of himself
We are looking at Swansea and their away form: their away win was early in the season and against a team not doing very well. In fact Swansea have notched up quite a few away wins against teams where the headline would be writ large if they did not win… Here they all are
|15 Aug 2017||Cheltenham T v Swansea City||W||1-2||League Trophy|
|22 Aug 2017||MK Dons v Swansea City||W||1-4||League Cup|
|26 Aug 2017||Crystal Palace v Swansea||W||0-2||Premier League|
|19 Sep 2017||Reading v Swansea City||W||0-2||League Cup|
|10 Oct 2017||Newport County v Swansea||W||1-2||League Trophy|
As part of the 11 man defence away from home they also got a goalless draw against Tottenham at Wembley, but although Tottenham are not a total disaster at home this season, they are certainly (in the laughable terms used by some) not making Wembley a “fortress”.
Here is Arsenal’s home form – as already noted we’ve won every home game in all three competitions making seven games in all. This is the league form.
|10||Brighton and Hove Albion||4||2||1||1||5||4||1||7|
Thus we are starting to see a pattern; an all out attack by Arsenal against and all out 11 man defence by Swansea.
In terms of recent games Swansea have two wins in the last six matches
|23 Sep 2017||Swansea City v Watford||L||1-2||Premier League|
|30 Sep 2017||West Ham United v Swansea C||L||1-0||Premier League|
|10 Oct 2017||Newport County v Swansea C||W||1-2||FL Trophy|
|14 Oct 2017||Swansea City v Huddersfield T||W||2-0||Premier League|
|21 Oct 2017||Swansea City v Leicester City||L||1-2||Premier League|
|24 Oct 2017||Swansea City v Manchester United||L||0-2||League Cup|
Arsenal on the other hand have five wins in the last six, and indeed the run goes on further than that for it is now one defeat and one draw in the last 11. The other nine, in case you were wondering, were wins.
But we’ll stick to the last six for now…
|28 Sep 2017||FC BATE Borisov v Arsenal||W||2-4||Europa League|
|01 Oct 2017||Arsenal v Brighton and Hove||W||2-0||Premier League|
|14 Oct 2017||Watford v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|19 Oct 2017||Crvena Zvezda v Arsenal||W||0-1||Europa League|
|22 Oct 2017||Everton v Arsenal||W||2-5||Premier League|
|24 Oct 2017||Arsenal v Norwich City||W||2-1||League Cup|
As for the history of the matches between the two clubs…
|25 Mar 2014||Arsenal v Swansea City||D||2-2||Premier League|
|09 Nov 2014||Swansea City v Arsenal||L||2-1||Premier League|
|11 May 2015||Arsenal v Swansea City||L||0-1||Premier League|
|31 Oct 2015||Swansea City v Arsenal||W||0-3||Premier League|
|02 Mar 2016||Arsenal v Swansea City||L||1-2||Premier League|
|15 Oct 2016||Arsenal v Swansea City||W||3-2||Premier League|
|14 Jan 2017||Swansea City v Arsenal||W||0-4||Premier League|
So three Arsenal wins in the last seven – not so good, or to put a better spin on it three wins in the last four, with seven goals from Arsenal in the last two matches between the two sides.
The key fact however is that these days Swansea are a horribly defensive team away from home, hoping to frustrate, never to entertain.
But enough of that I hear you cry, what of the injuries?
We are stuck on five injuries, although the manager has said that Ospina and Chambers are back in training. Here is the top 12, incorporating Swansea. We’re in the bunch that takes in fourth to eighth place. Figures as always from physioroom.com
|Pos||Club||How many?||Last man down||What happened|
|1||Manchester United||8||A Herrera||Ankle Injury|
|2||Watford||7||R Pereyra||Hamstring Injury|
|3||West Bromwich Albion||6||G Barry||Back Injury|
|4||Arsenal||5||D Ospina||Groin Strain|
|4||Liverpool||5||G Wijnaldum||Knee Injury|
|4||Huddersfield Town||5||E Kachunga||Back Injury|
|4||Burnley||5||S Vokes||Abdominal Injury|
|9||Stoke City||4||B Martins Indi||Calf Strain|
|9||Crystal Palace||4||L Chung-Yong||Muscle Injury|
|9||Swansea City||4||M Olsson||Hamstring Injury|
|9||Bournemouth||4||J Defoe||Hamstring Injury|
What is interesting at the moment is how there is such bunching in the middle of the table with nine of the 20 teams (fractionally under half) in the league on four or five. And as I regularly say, Santi Cazorla should not be counted because he is not in the 25 nominated players, so he couldn’t play even if he suddenly was declared fit.
So here is our five man injury list, including two back in training and one not in the 25. Physioroom don’t have any latest news so I’ve added it.
|Man down||What’s he got?||Coming back to life?||The news|
|D Ospina||Groin Strain||November 2, 2017||Back in training|
|D Welbeck||Groin Strain||November 18, 2017||No|
|S Mustafi||Thigh Strain||November 18, 2017||No|
|C Chambers||Hip Injury||November 5, 2017||Back in training|
|S Cazorla||Plantaris Injury||January?||Not in the 25|
Now onto the team.
You will recall that we won the last match against an admittedly poor Everton team, but still with Arsenal playing with gusto and verve. That line up was…
Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Xhaka, Ozil, Lacazette, Alexis.
With the sandcastles: Macey, Holding, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud
No one is injured from that match, so the strong temptation must be to use the same XI – especially up front where that selection was what we have been waiting all season to see.
But there is the issue of Wilshere. As Walter pointed out this week, he played all the game against Norwich, and there is another Europa coming up. The Red Star game this Thursday is particularly interesting, not just because they look like the main challengers to us in the group, but also because a win would make qualification to the next round certain, meaning that more of the kiddies could be tried in the remaining two Europa games, if wanted.
So I’ll go with Walter and leave Jack on the beach for this one with a little run around later if all goes well. I’ll also go with Tony and keep Xhaka in the team despite the howls of anguish.
I have also mentioned many times in the past how Mr Wenger speaks so clearly about how he values Arsenal’s identity, its traditions, its style and its class and how the great past of Arsenal should always be a good to its future. But I think in the interviews before this game it was the first time I have known him ponder whether these matters concern people any more.
Speaking on his drive and ambition he said, “I was always hungry but I’m more hungry than ever because the demands are higher and because I didn’t win the Premier League for a long time and I want to do that before you get me out of here.
“I have always got something to prove. If I play 4 v 4 with you now, you will see that I will try to win. We can play 1 v 1 if you want. There are two ways to go – you ignore your age and you live like you live for ever or you think: ‘OK.’
“I am born for competition. I don’t know why and what happened to me but it is like that. No matter what I do. The desire to compete is my real need. It has never been financial. If it was financial, I would not be here.”
So to the team. I’m keeping it the same as I suggested before…
Koscielny Mertesacker Monreal
Ozil Lacazette Alexis
Macey, Debuchy, Elneny, Wilshere, Walcott, Iwobi, Giroud.
And one final snippet. I thought I would take a look at the yellow card table. You know how Huddersfield are being lauded, and all the commentators are saying what a wonderful team they are and what a breath of fresh air they bring to the Premier League. But when we take a look at the yellow cards list, well!
When Arsenal were mid-table in this list the club was called out for being dirty and cheating. But now Huddersfield are top… not a word.
Huddersfield have 21 yellows so far this season. Arsenal are in 18th position with nine. Swansea are 14th with 12.
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