Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Swansea City

Emirates Stadium, London
Monday, May 11
3:00 p.m. EDT, 20:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Kevin Friend
    • Assistants: Mark Scholes and Richard West
    • 4th Official: Robert Madley
  • Reverse Fixture: Swansea 2 - 1 Arsenal
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 2 - 2 Swansea
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 9 Arsenal wins, 6 Swansea wins, 3 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-W-W-W-D-W
  • Swansea's League Form: W-W-D-L-W-W
Oh, now it makes sense.
Happy belated St. Totteringham's Day to you and yours! Arsenal's win over Hull City, after Spurs had lost to Manchester City on Sunday, means that the Gunners will finish the season ahead of Tottenham for the 20th consecutive time.

But, on to more important matters. Arsenal's magic number -- that is any combination of points earned by the Gunners or points dropped by those chasing them -- is just one to finish above Liverpool (and thus, in the Top Four™.) After Manchester United's loss to West Bromwich Albion last weekend, Arsenal's magic number to pip United is just five. If Arsenal win and United lose this weekend, the Red Devils will be unable to catch Arsenal, no matter what happens at Old Trafford next week.

As for second place, Arsenal's magic number to pip Manchester City is 10, since City can only finish with 79 points. That's three wins and a draw in the final four matches. So, as long as they win their home games, Arsenal can still finish second with a draw at Old Trafford. Of course, it would be delightful to win there twice in one season, so Arsenal should focus on that. Arsenal are only two goals back on goal difference as compared to City, so nine points would be sufficient if Arsenal grab the tie-breaker.

But, as I said, you gotta win your home games, and that continues with Swansea at the Emirates on Monday. As I stress often, Arsenal can't claim all 10 of those magic points at once; the league structure dictates that you can only take them three at a time, no matter how greedy you might be.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Welbeck (knee,) Debuchy (hamstring,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin,) Arteta (match fitness)
Doubts: Ramsey (ankle)

Aaron Ramsey, shown here being dashing, is about 50-50
after getting kicked 7,000 times at Hull.
Prior to the Hull match, the surprise was that Danny Welbeck did not make the squad with a knee problem. Arsene Wenger's words on that front don't sound very promising, as he said, "there is no major damage but we have to see how it progresses." That could mean anything in the world of Arsenal. He's been out of training for over a week, so there's almost no chance he takes part in this one.

Aaron Ramsey is 50-50 after nearly getting destroyed in the Hull match. He hasn't been in training all week, despite notching a goal and an assist after the initial injury. Mathieu Debuchy, injured in training over a week ago, is still out, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remains out as well, and Mikel Arteta lacks match fitness.

The only question that surrounds the squad selection is at right wing, if Ramsey, Welbeck, and the Ox are all unavailable; how will Wenger find a way to not start Theo Walcott now? With that in mind, my prediction is that Rambo passes fit. That would make this five straight league matches with an unchanged XI; the Hull match marked the first time Arsenal kept the same squad for four straight games since 1996.

Predicted XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Alexis, Ozil, Giroud.

Swansea Squad News

Out: Oliveira (ankle,) Amat (foot,) Routledge (ankle,) Naughton (ankle)
Doubts: Gomis (hamstring,) Bartley (knee,) Carroll (ankle)

The blue team looks sad. Who is that? Sunderland?
Bafetimbi Gomis, who scored the winner in the reverse fixture, is a doubt with a hamstring injury he suffered against Everton a month ago; the French striker has missed Swansea's last three matches. Other doubts include former Arsenal defender Kyle Bartley and midfielder Tom Carroll, who is on loan from Tottenham.

Nelson Oliveira, who is on loan from Benfica, is ruled out with an ankle injury. Ex-Tottenham defender Kyle Naughton is out with an ankle injury of his own, as is Wayne Routledge (technically, he's also an ex-Tottenham player, though he only made five appearances for Spurs.) Jordi Amat, the Spanish center back, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a fractured metatarsal. Swansea has had to recall two players, Dwight Tiendalli and Jazz Richards, from loans at Middlesbrough and Fulham, respectively.

Oh, also, they have Lukasz Fabianski. I feel like that's a storyline, too.

Predicted XI: Fabianski, Taylor, Williams, Rangel, Fernandez, Shelvey, Dyer, Montero, Sigurdsson, Cork, Gomis.

Current Form

Francis Coquelin is floating in celebration.
The form train keeps on rollin' for Arsenal. Across all competitions, Arsenal are now unbeaten in their last 11 matches. They have also won 13 of their last 14 matches overall since the North London derby loss. Power shift, indeed. There's not much more to be said about Arsenal's streak; five wins from their final five and they'll coast into a second place finish with a trophy in tow. Not too shabby.

As for Swansea, they've been sitting in eighth since the end of March, having pipped West Ham to the slot. Swansea started the season brightly, but settled into ninth spot for much of the winter. They opened the year on a three-match winning streak but then went winless in five and have been comfortably in the top half of the table, yet not challenging for Europe at the same time ever since. The Swans have won four of their last six, with just one loss in that span, though it came against a Leicester side that is, admittedly, fighting for their Premier League lives.

Match Facts

Oh right, this was one of those games where we had to wear
the change kit because our home shorts would've clashed.
Swansea won the reverse fixture 2-1 back in November; Arsenal lost again a week later to Manchester United, marking the only time this season that Arsenal have lost consecutive league fixtures. Anyway, back to the loss at the Liberty, and Arsenal had led 1-0 on 63 minutes through Alexis Sanchez. Swansea, however, scored twice in three minutes, with the winner coming in the 78th from Bafetimbi Gomis, taking advantage of his height... well, advantage, over Nacho Monreal playing at center back.

This fixture last season ended 2-2 in a midweek fixture played just days after Arsenal's 6-0 setback at Stamford Bridge. Swansea led 1-0 at halftime, but it was Arsenal who struck twice in quick succession to take a 2-1 lead. Unfortunately, a Mathieu Flamini own goal in the 90th meant it was two points dropped for the Gunners.

Arsenal have only beaten Swansea once in the league at home since their promotion in 2011. They also won an FA Cup replay at the Emirates in January of 2013. Both of those wins came by a 1-0 scoreline.

The Referee

Kevin Enemy.
The referee is Leicestershire-based Kevin Friend. Arsenal have seen Friend three times this year, for the 2-2 draw at Everton in August, the 2-0 win at Sunderland in October, and the 2-1 win at QPR in March. Many of Friend's calls in that Everton match felt like they went against Arsenal. Four different Arsenal players were booked to Everton's one, while Arsenal were whistled for 18 fouls to Everton's 10. Arsenal's comeback, however, and subsequent wins means they still have not lost a match with Friend as the referee, with six wins and three draws over nine matches.

Friend was the referee when Swansea lost 4-2 at Chelsea in September, drew 0-0 at Everton in November (in which Jonjo Shelvey was sent off,) and won 2-0 over QPR in December.

Friend also took charge of last weekend's Crystal Palace v. Chelsea match, in which he awarded Chelsea a penalty that led, though not directly, to their 1-0 league title clinching win.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Everton v. Sunderland; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. West Ham United; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Hull City v. Burnley; KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull
  • Saturday: Leicester City v. Southampton; King Power Stadium, Leicester
  • Saturday: Newcastle United v. West Bromwich Albion; St. James's Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Tottenham Hotspur; Britannia Stadium, London
  • Saturday (late): Crystal Palace v. Manchester United; Selhurst Park, London
  • Sunday (early): Manchester City v. Queens Park Rangers; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Sunday (late): Chelsea v. Liverpool; Stamford Bridge, London
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and is also pretty sleepy. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat, which might contain some kind ofzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.