Preview by Numbers: Swansea City v. Arsenal

Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Saturday, September 28
12:30 p.m. EDT, 17:30 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Mark Clattenburg
    • Assistants: Simon Beck and Stephen Child
    • 4th Official: Andre Marriner
  • This Match, Last Year: Swansea 0 - 2 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 8 Arsenal wins, 5 Swansea wins, 2 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W // L-W-W-W-W
  • Swansea's League Form: L // L-L-W-D-W
  • Weather: Scattered Light Rain, 17 C / 63 F
I love this picture.
Arsenal's roll continued, albeit barely, on Wednesday night after a penalty shootout in West Bromwich saw the Gunners through to the fourth round of the League Cup. West Brom let Arsenal off the hook a few of times, especially toward the end of extra time and most certainly in the shootout. Arsenal's reward for sneaking by is a date with Chelsea at the Emirates, in a midweek match before Arsenal plays Liverpool, Dortmund, and Manchester United in an eight-day span. So, you know, no problem...

Back to the business at hand, however, and it's a tricky road fixture in the league as Arsenal head to Wales to take on a Swansea side that stumbled out of the gate this season, but has rounded into form since the last international break. Arsenal's fixture list, of course, does not get any easier, with Napoli visiting on Tuesday before another trip to West Brom next Sunday.

The Gunners have done well to rebound from their opening day loss, rising to top of the league in just four games. Staying at the top of the league over the remaining 34 games is probably too much to ask (ending there is the goal, of course,) but it wouldn't hurt to keep checking off the tricky fixtures with three points.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Walcott (stomach,) Cazorla (ankle,) Rosicky (thigh,) Sanogo (back,) Podolski (hamstring,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee,) Diaby (knee)

Mikel Arteta played 95 minutes
on Wednesday before coming
off with a cramp. I suspect he'll
appear from the bench tomorrow.
It doesn't look like there's going to be much of a change in Arsenal's injury situation between Wednesday's League Cup tie and tomorrow's match.

Theo Walcott's minor stomach surgery was a success; I suspect he'll be back after the October international break. Santi Cazorla, meanwhile, is hopeful that he will be back for next week's return trip to the Hawthorns. Tomas Rosicky is the next due back and he could be available Tuesday against Napoli if all goes well (but all never goes well when it comes to Arsenal injuries.)

The result will likely be a largely unchanged side from the XI that beat Stoke last week, including Serge Gnabry, who ran so much against West Brom on Wednesday that I think his legs nearly fell off. Mikel Arteta might slip in as well to give someone in midfield a breather; I suspect that would be either Mathieu Flamini or even Jack Wilshere, but not in-form Aaron Ramsey or Mesut Ozil.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Gnabry, Giroud.

Swansea Squad News

Out: None
Doubts: Williams (ankle,) Hernandez (hamstring)

Wait a minute, Swansea have no injuries? That's unfair, though it does make my research for writing this section a little easier.

Ashley Williams has a slight problem with his ankle, though he was able to play the full 90 minutes against Crystal Palace last weekend; I would expect he and Chico Flores to be the partnership at center back. Pablo Hernandez, however, has not played since scoring at West Brom on September 1.

If Hernandez passes fit, I don't expect him to start, as it would appear that Michael Laudrup will start an unchanged XI from last week's win over Palace. Swansea play a 4-2-3-1, with Jonjo Shelvey and Leon Britton in the holding roles, Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge out wide, and Michu playing behind a central striker, likely Alvaro Vazquez, as record signing Wilfried Bony played in the League Cup Tuesday.

Current Form

The last time Arsenal won eight straight road games in the
league, the eighth won the league in Manchester.
Technically, when a match goes to penalties it is considered a draw, so Arsenal's penalty shootout win over West Brom actually snapped the Gunners' seven match winning streak across all competitions and their 10 match road winning streak. That being said, they've still won seven straight Premier League road fixtures and will look to make it eight straight league road wins for the second time in the Premier League era (that came at the end of the Double-winning 2001/02 season, but was snapped with a draw at West Ham in the second week of the following season.)

Swansea opened the season in last place after each of the first two weeks of the season, following losses to Manchester United and Tottenham. Since then, the Swans have righted the ship a bit, going unbeaten in three league matches (away wins at West Brom and Crystal Palace and a home draw with Liverpool.) They opened Europa League group play with a 3-0 win over 10-man Valencia as well. However, their changed squad for the League Cup fell 3-1 at Birmingham City on Tuesday (then again, I think we know a little something about losing to Birmingham in the League Cup ourselves.)

Match Facts

Nacho's first Arsenal goal won this match last year.
Arsenal and Swansea met approximately ten billion times during the course of last season, with Arsenal slightly getting the better of the results. Okay, fine, it was four meetings, two in the league and one FA Cup tie that required a replay. The first meeting came just around when Arsenal started to hit their first pack of doldrums in early December. A 0-0 affair suddenly ended 2-0 to the visiting Swans when Michu scored in the 88th and 90th minutes, then did that hand thing. What's with that celebration? (Editor's Note: I do know what's with that thing, but that's not going to stop me from finding humor in it.)

Literally the next day, the two sides were drawn together in the third round of the FA Cup. Swansea led 1-0 through Michu (of course) before Arsenal took a 2-1 lead late. Swansea earned a replay with an equalizer from a set piece just a couple of minutes later. That replay ended 1-0 to the Arsenal after a late Jack Wilshere goal. The league meeting at Liberty Stadium was the last of the four matches, which Arsenal went on to win 2-0 after goals from Nacho Monreal and Gervinho. That was the first league match for Arsenal after the loss at White Hart Lane and kicked off the 10-match unbeaten run that saw them clinch fourth.

Arsenal and Swansea have met a total of eight times in league play and have split the results evenly, four wins apiece. Swansea won both meetings in 1981/82, Arsenal won both meetings in 1982/83, each side won at home in 2011/12, and each side won on the road last year.

The Referee

Presented without comment.
The referee is County Durham-based Mark Clattenburg; I'm pretty sure he was listed as Tyne & Wear-based last season, but Durham is just south of there... maybe he moved down the road, I don't know. Arsenal last saw Clattenburg as referee in their 2-1 loss at Tottenham in March.

As you may recall from the "Match Facts" section (if you don't, you have a very short attention span,) Arsenal played Swansea four times last season; incidentally, Clattenburg was the referee for two of them, though both were at the Emirates and not at the Liberty.

Arsenal, historically, have a strong record with Clattenburg, but last year lost twice (to Michu in the league and Spurs as mentioned earlier) and won only once (the FA Cup replay against Swansea.) Aside from those two matches for Swansea, Clattenburg also worked the Swans' 2-0 loss at Chelsea in late April.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Tottenham Hotspur v. Chelsea; White Hart Lane, London
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. Manchester City; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Fulham v. Cardiff City; Craven Cottage, London
  • Saturday: Hull City v. West Ham United; The KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Saturday: Manchester United v. West Bromwich Albion; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Saturday: Southampton v. Crystal Palace; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Sunday (early): Stoke City v. Norwich City; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sunday (late): Sunderland v. Liverpool; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Monday (night): Everton v. Newcastle United; Goodison Park, Liverpool