Both Arsenal and Swansea have had inconsistent starts to the season, with neither really putting together a great win streak, however, both sides are great footballing clubs and regularly entertaining – striving to play attacking football every game – which makes you think this should be a great game for the neutrals.
Arsenal were handed a huge blow in mid-week as defender Laurent Koscielny was forced to go off in the game against Everton, with a muscle injury, which means Kieran Gibbs will probably be pushed back into the first team and Thomas Vermaelen will be moved back to his natural position of center-back.
Swansea don’t have any fresh injury concerns, but the absences of key-players Neil Taylor and Michel Vorm will be big misses, despite young Ben Davies filling in brilliantly at left-back for Taylor.
Arsenal have had an unremarkable start to the season, only winning five of their opening thirteen games, as they’ve already drawn six games this season. If they want to take maximum points against Swansea, they’ll be hoping for Theo Walcott to be on song. Despite having lots of problems off the pitch with his contract situation, he has drastically improved on the pitch and The Gunners have looked a different side when he plays. He provides the much needed width for them, and seems to have matured as he’s giving a much better return, scoring four goals and collecting four assists – making him their joint-top goalscorer and top assister - despite only starting four games. They’ll also want Spaniard Santi Cazorla to be in his best form, and to aim to pick apart the Swansea defence, and continue his great form, scoring four goals and getting three assists, and always looking a threat to the opposition defence. Mikel Arteta will also have to be on form if Arsenal wish to play their best, as he is an integral part of the team. With some of the best passing statistics in the league, he links the team together brilliantly and is one of the only Premier League players who comes close to the role of a regista, a role that hasn’t really ‘caught on’ yet in England. He helps the team retain possession, by spreading the play well and making crucial interceptions and challenges and has been a revelation since joining Arsenal on ‘Deadline Day’ last year. Without him, Arsenal aren’t the same team, and only won one game in which he didn’t play in last season – which, luckily for them, turned out to be the crucial last game against West Bromwich Albion.
Swansea started the season in great form, and after having a bit of a blip, seem to be steadying the ship again, as they’re undefeated in their last five, winning two. If they wish to extend this run they’ll be looking towards £2M buy Michu and midfielder Jonathan De Guzman to be on form. Michu has been a revelation since joining from Rayo Vallecano, scoring eight goals in his first fourteen games. Whilst De Guzman has been The Swans’ creative force, picking out key passes from the deeper midfield role, collecting three assists and completing nineteen key passes. However, a key player this season for Swansea has been Wayne Routledge, who didn’t tend to feature very often when Brendan Rodgers was in charge last season, as he seemed to favour Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair, bit with the latter leaving, the door opened for Routledge and he hasn’t looked back since. He’s Swansea’s joint top assister and second top scorer, turning his career around after falling under the radar in the last year or two and despite being against one of the best right-backs in the league in Bacary Sagna, he will still probably be a constant threat to the defence.
It’s a tough game to predict, despite Swansea starting well, I feel they haven’t really got going, and Arsenal have played relatively well, but then they have had games where they haven’t really turned up. A draw seems the most likely result with these two teams constantly drawing lately, however, with Arsenal having a good run of fixtures now and the home advantage, I think they’ll nick a win in an attempt to kickstart and great run of form, to propel them up the table.