Preview by Numbers: Swansea City v. Arsenal

Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Sunday, November 9
11:00 a.m. EST, 16:00 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Phil Dowd
    • Assistants: Darren Cann and Scott Ledger
    • 4th Official: Roger East
  • This Match, Last Year: Swansea 1 - 2 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 9 Arsenal wins, 5 Swansea wins, 3 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-D-L-D-W-W
  • Swansea's League Form: L-D-D-L-W-D
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 9 C / 49 F
The media now has hundreds of stock photos like this one.
I'm not going to say much more about Tuesday; odds are you have either been reading about it incessantly since it happened (likely because you're still angry and should probably calm down by now) or you've been avoiding reading about it entirely (which has been my choice.) People tend to get very hyperbolic after results like that one.

From a pure preview perspective, I do feel obligated to note that the draw leaves Arsenal's qualification to the knockout phase in a more precarious situation than you'd think: if Dortmund beat Arsenal on matchday five and Anderlecht beat Galatasaray (which is in Belgium,) then the Belgians would be just two points behind Arsenal with the ability to face a Dortmund side with nothing to play for on matchday six. That would therefore require Arsenal to get at least a draw in Turkey to be sure. Dangerous stuff, indeed.

There's an international break looming on the horizon; after Sunday, Arsenal don't play again until they host Manchester United on the 22nd. The way I see it, Arsenal can go into this break in one of two ways: with nerves settled after three points in South Wales, or with confidence in pieces after more dropped points.

Regardless of what you think about the state of the team, the manager, or the personnel, we've got to pull together through this and support the boys in red and white. Let's get back on track with a win.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Arteta (hamstring,) Ospina (thigh,) Koscielny (Achilles,) Ozil (knee,) Debuchy (ankle,) Giroud (ankle)

Theo Walcott also recently returned to full synchronized
swimming training.
The tide on Tuesday turned (well, it had started turning already, but it really turned) when Mikel Arteta was removed with a hamstring strain; Arsene Wenger reported in Thursday's presser that it's a grade one injury, which usually means about two weeks. Arteta will be out this weekend, but should be back after this timely international break.

Jack Wilshere, on the other hand, will be available after missing the last two matches with two different problems; as I reported in the picture comment on Tuesday, Jack has not completed 90 minutes for Arsenal (for a variety of reasons, both injury and tactical) since the League Cup loss to Southampton in late September.

In incredible news, Olivier Giroud apparently returns to training next week (!) which could put his return to action a full month ahead of where it was expected to be back when he was first injured in August. Theo Walcott has been called up for the England squad, which isn't rushing things at all, thanks Roy. He joins five other Arsenal players in the Three Lions squad.

Laurent Koscielny could be back in training right after the international break (please please please please please,) though it's hard to really know what Wenger means by "a little chance." That probably means no chance, right? Meanwhile, David Ospina, Mathieu Debuchy, and Mesut Ozil remain long term absentees.

As for this week's XI, it's a road game, so I don't expect Wenger to shake anything up on defense, despite all of their failings. I still think Theo needs another cameo appearance or two before getting any starts; he's only played 13 minutes so far. Personally, I'd start Jack Wilshere over Mathieu Flamini, but I admit I could end up totally wrong on that.

Predicted XI: Szczesny, Chambers, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, Welbeck.

Swansea Squad News

Out: Britton (knee,) Richards (knee), Donnelly (ankle)
Doubts: Tiendalli (groin,) Amat (knee)
Suspended: Shelvey (one match, two bookings)

Jonjo Shelvey's red card just gives the chance for a player
on loan from Spurs to shine. That worries me a bit.
Defenders Dwight Tiendalli and Jordi Amat could both be available again after being out with groin and knee injuries, respectively; both have been back in full training. Leon Britton has just returned to training from a knee injury that has kept him out all season, but he will be too short to return to the pitch this weekend. Swansea will also be without Welsh defender Jazz Richards (I didn't realize Jazz was a Welsh name,) and forward Rory Donnelly

For the second time in three weeks, Arsenal will face one of their former goalkeepers; the Gunners will hope to have the same success against Lukasz Fabianski as they had against Vito Mannone at Sunderland. Swansea have a very threatening forward core, as Wilfried Bony leads the line with Gylfi Sigurdsson playing just behind him. The key to the match could be the holding roles played by Ki Sung-yueng and Tom Carroll, the latter of whom is on loan from Tottenham and will come into the XI after Jonjo Shelvey's red card last weekend.

Predicted XI: Fabianski, Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Carroll, Ki, Dyer, Montero, Sigurdsson, Bony.

Current Form

Here's Alexis Sanchez to help you feel better
about things.
Arsenal extended their unbeaten streak to five matches across all competitions on Tuesday, dating back to the loss at Chelsea, but the circumstances surrounding the 3-3 draw were, of course, less than ideal. It was the first time Arsenal conceded three at all since the loss to Everton last April and the first time they allowed three at home since the disaster against Aston Villa that opened last season. Arsenal have picked up at least a point from 14 of their last 15 Premier League matches.

Swansea opened the year with three wins on the bounce before starting to struggle. They then went winless in five, with draws against Sunderland and Newcastle, before defeating Leicester and drawing Everton. That leaves the Swans with 15 points in the table, good for 6th place. They have only lost once at home this year, 1-0 to Southampton in September. They'll be buoyed by a good road point at Goodison Park last weekend, especially in the way they saw out a 0-0 draw on ten men.

Match Facts

Is Michel Vorm wearing surgical gloves?
Arsenal took four of a possible six points from Swansea last season, winning in Wales in September while playing out a topsy-turvy draw at the Emirates in March.

The Gunners' win at the Liberty was their second straight in the league, after a loss in 2012 and a draw in the third round of the 2013 FA Cup Third Round. Serge Gnabry opened his Arsenal account with the game's first goal in the 58th minute and Aaron Ramsey added a beautiful goal just four minutes later; Ben Davies pulled one back nine minutes from time but Arsenal held on for the 2-1 victory. In the reverse fixture, played in the days following the 6-0 loss at Stamford Bridge, Swansea led 1-0 for much of the match before Arsenal scored twice in two minutes to take the lead; the Swans got out of London with a point after a Mathieu Flamini own goal in injury time.

Swansea have just the one win in four tries against Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium since their promotion to the Premier League in 2011; Arsenal led that match 1-0, then trailed 2-1. Theo Walcott equalized in the 69th minute, but Danny Graham put Swansea back ahead for good almost straight from the restart.

The Referee

"I don't know where the pies went!"
The referee is Staffordshire-based Phil Dowd. This is the first time Arsenal have seen Dowd this year (they still have not yet seen, among big name referees, Mike Dean, Chris Foy, Lee Mason, Neil Swarbrick, or (LOL) Andre Marriner this season.) Last year, Arsenal only saw Dowd twice: first for the League Cup loss to Chelsea and then again on Boxing Day for the 3-1 win at West Ham.

This is the first time Swansea will be seeing Dowd this season as well; last year, the Swans went winless in four matches with Dowd in the middle, losing 4-1 to Manchester United on opening day, drawing 0-0 with West Ham last October, losing 3-2 to Manchester City on New Year's Day, and falling 1-0 to Chelsea in April, during which defender Chico Flores was sent off on 16 minutes after collecting two bookings just 120 seconds apart.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Liverpool v. Chelsea; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Saturday: Burnley v. Hull City; Turf Moor, Burnley
  • Saturday: Manchester United v. Crystal Palace; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Saturday: Southampton v. Leicester City; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Saturday: West Ham United v. Aston Villa; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Saturday (late): Queens Park Rangers v. Manchester City; Loftus Road, London
  • Sunday (early): Sunderland v. Everton; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Sunday (early): Tottenham Hotspur v. Stoke City; White Hart Lane, London
  • Sunday (early): West Bromwich Albion v. Newcastle United; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich