Arsene Wenger has described Arsenal’s 6-0 humiliation at the hands of Chelsea on Saturday as simply “an accident,” and is keen to put it behind them when they host Swansea City on Tuesday. Arsenal found themselves 3-0 down and a man down in the opening 17 minutes at Stamford Bridge before Chelsea went onto add insult having already all-but ended Arsenal’s title chances. The Gunners now sit seven points behind Chelsea, albeit with a game in hand, but are also a point back of Manchester City, who have played two games fewer.
Worryingly for Arsenal, the result at Chelsea wasn’t an isolated one. In their visits to the Premier League’s top three this season, Wenger’s men have shipped an incredible 17 goals. While there is believed to have been a clear-the-air meeting with the squad in the aftermath of the defeat, in public Wenger was keen to focus on the positives of the club’s season rather than Saturday’s result.
“An accident has happened, that doesn't mean that you're not a good driver," he told Arsenal’s official website. "It just means that we have played about 40 games this season and it's not what happened on Saturday that reflects the quality of this team. We have 62 points that we earned hard with quality games and that's what we want to focus on, to get back to that quality. We go back to basics.
"You have to put that into perspective, we just came out of two convincing results at Bayern Munich and at Tottenham with a very solid defensive performance so you have to think that [Chelsea] was an accident. How do you deal with the accident? You repair them, you repair the damage and you go for the next one. The response has always been very strong and I'm convinced it will be again on Tuesday.”
After their two previous heavy defeats against Manchester City and Liverpool, Arsenal certainly went back to basics and grinded out uninspiring goalless draws at home to Chelsea and Manchester United. With the prize of at least an automatic qualifying spot for the Champions League to play for, even if the title is now out of their reach, such a result will not be so palatable against a struggling Swansea side.
Despite plenty of encouraging performances under Garry Monk, a porous defense has cost Swansea dear, not least into a 3-2 defeat to Everton at the weekend. The result leaves Swansea just four points above the relegation zone and still very much battling to avoid the drop with eight matches of the season remaining. And Monk is not counting on Arsenal being vulnerable on Tuesday, but is instead anticipating a stern test at the Emirates.
“We expect a reaction from them [Arsenal],” he said, according to Swansea City’s official website. “That’s the message to the players. But we’ll try and put on the right performance to get a result.
“I was very surprised by what happened against Chelsea, but obviously circumstances played a part in that. We have to be aware of that and try to counter it. We know it is going to be a very tough game and we’re in for a hard night.”
Swansea won the corresponding fixture 2-0 last season with two late goals from Michu. The Spaniard, though, has only scored two goals in the whole of this campaign, having spent much of it out injured. Yet, having returned to appear off the bench in Swansea’s last two matches, he could be included in the starting lineup for the first time in more than three months at the Emirates.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will be able to include Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after both had their suspensions revoked following the incredible case of mistaken identity against Chelsea that saw Gibbs sent off for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s handball. The fact that the shot was heading wide has meant that the offense was deemed not denying of a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Laurent Koscielny, however, is ruled out with a calf injury.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs
M: Flamini, Arteta
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Podolski
D: Rangel, Chico, Williams. Davies
M: Britton, Canas
Dyer, Michu, Routledge
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League encounter will kick off at 3.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC’s Premier League Extra Time, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.