Good *bleh* morning!
Another night of revelry sees me wake up in the middle of the afternoon, all weary. Another small weekend party turned out to be an all night affair and I sleep only after breakfast. Just another normal day I suppose.
Well, fear not. The weekend is here. And a good Premier League weekend to look forward to. Arsenal travel to Wales for their clash with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea have been a thorn in recent seasons to Arsenal, since their promotion in 2011.
Arsenal managed to narrowly beat them 1-0 post the mauling at Old Trafford, before Arsenal lost 3-2 in the away game. The following season, Swansea came to the Emirates and won 2-0, thanks to two late strikes from Michu. They proved to be no pushovers in the FA Cup either, as Arsenal drew them 2-2 in Wales, before a late Wilshere strike in the replay earned the Gunners progression to the next round. Another hard earned 2-0 win was secured in mid-March.
Arsenal are enjoying a good run in the league which sees them on top at the current moment. After the disastrous start to the season, losing 3-1 at home to Aston Villa, victories have been secured against Fulham, Tottenham, Sunderland and Stoke in the league, Fenerbahce and Marseille in the Champions League and a narrow win through penalties over West Brom in the League Cup.
Despite the growing list of injuries, which includes Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta until recently, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Abou Diaby, Yaya Sanogo, and now Theo Walcott, the manager has been able to ring in the required changes to keep a solid first 11 every week.
While the signing of Mesut Ozil has definitely lifted the spirits at the club, the form of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini have been nothing short of tremendous. With Flamini, Arsenal have now gotten that extra bit of bite, robustness and steel required in midfield, which had had been missing for some time now. Flamini’s spirited performances where he is constantly seen heckling the opposition and rallying his own defence has been one of the highlights of the season so far.
Ramsey on the other hand, has proved to be seamless between defensive midfield and attacking midfield. He seems to be getting into the right goal scoring positions at the right times. 7 goals already, 3 of them in the league.
Arsenal have also benefited from Olivier Giroud plying alone up front. With Premier League defences, the only thing constant is physicality. Giroud has been able to marshal well up front, giving the midfield more time to set up an attack and create space. His contribution up front has been absolutely vital.
Swansea come into the game in pretty mixed mood of mind. Having lost their opening game to Manchester United, by a margin of 4-1, they have gone on to lose to Tottenham 1-0, defeated West Brom away 2-0, drew Liverpool 2-2 in a lively encounter and beat Crystal Palace 2-0 away as well. In the midst of this they trounced Romanian side Petrolul 5-1, before losing the away leg 2-1, trounced Valencia at the Mestalla 3-0, and crashed out of the League Cup 3-1 to Birmingham City, just couple of days back.
Right, team news then. Arsene Wenger will most likely continue with the back 4 of Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Sagna. In midfield, Mesut Ozil will start, but there are doubts over the fitness of Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini. The manager however reiterated that there is only a minor possibility that they may not feature. Apart from that, Serge Gnabry could be given a rest, after his 120 minutes out in the League Cup. There have been rumors all over the internet, that Nacho Monreal could start on the left hand side. Mikel Arteta too may not be 100% having been substituted due to cramps at the Hawthorns.
Tomas Rosicky is expected to be fit in time for the visit of Napoli, Walcott about 3-4 weeks away, while there is still no definite timestamp on the returns of Podolski, Chamberlain and Cazorla.
Swansea are defintely without Pablo Hernandez, and are still waiting over the fitness of captain Ashley Williams, an Arsenal transfer target during the summer.
Here is how I expect the teams to line up.
Swansea will be a particularly hard team to deal with. An enterprising midfield of new signings Jonjo Shelvey from Liverpool and Jose Canas from Real Betis are slowly but surely forming a strong partnership. Up front is the livewire Ivory Coast international Wilfried Bony, signed from Vitesse over the summer. Add to that Michu, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge, 3 tricky players.
Arsenal will have to deal with the high pressing and quick passing game of Swansea. The Gunners have been successful in scoring the early goal, but have always given time and space to the opposition to equalize. This habit needs rectification.
Arsene Wenger celebrates the 17th anniversary of his unveiling as an Arsenal manager. Let’s hope it is a win to make it even more special.
Enjoy the game wherever you are!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
Fancy winning a copy of the official autobiography of Dennis Bergkamp, “Stillness and Speed”? All you need to do is answer these questions and send in your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday, 28th September 17:30 GMT (22:00 IST), i.e the kickoff time of today’s game. There are just 5 books to be won, so buck up! All the best!
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