Preview by Numbers: Swansea City v. Arsenal

Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Saturday, October 31
11:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Kevin Friend
    • Assistants: Edward Smart and Harry Lennard
    • 4th Official: Andy Davies
  • This Match, Last Year: Swansea 2 - 1 Arsenal
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 9 Arsenal wins, 7 Swansea wins, 3 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-L-W-W-W-W
  • Swansea's League Form: L-D-L-D-W
Glass half-full: Arsenal's loss on Tuesday, crashing them out of the League Cup, means they will not have to play the next round of the competition, which would have been Stoke City away.

Glass half-empty: Random chance totally doesn't work like that and you can't say the drawing would have gone exactly the same way if Arsenal were involved.

Glass half-empty: If they won, Stoke might have lost, and then the next round would have been Chelsea away.

Glass half-empty: No, it doesn't work like that. Stop saying that.

Glass three-quarters of the way empty: We have no fit right wingers.

Glass three-quarters of the way empty: Swansea are Arsenal's biggest bogey team right now.

Glass empty: I'd like another pint, please.

Glass full: Here's to three points!

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Walcott (calf,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring,) Arteta (ankle,) Ramsey (hamstring,) Ospina (shoulder,) Welbeck (knee,) Wilshere (ankle,) Rosicky (knee)

To those who hate this kit, I hate to break it to you, but we'll
be wearing it in Munich next week.
Eight! Eight players out injured, AH! AH! AH! And seven of them are midfielders (I'm including Theo Walcott as a midfielder here because he'd be starting on the right wing this weekend if he were healthy.)

Three-week injuries to Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will basically leave Arsene Wenger with two tactical choices: he could either bring in Joel Campbell on the right or shift Alexis Sanchez over, bring Santi Cazorla forward on the left, and start Mathieu Flamini.

Quotes from Arsene Wenger's press conference yesterday seem to indicate that the manager will opt for Campbell on the right, as that would allow him to keep the remaining 10 positions operating normally. Shifting Cazorla forward would essentially make two changes instead of one, possibly disrupting the team's offensive rhythm.

Arsenal will play three critical games in nine days with almost no depth to fall back on, so they're going to have to weather a bit of a storm here...

Also, FYI, I can play right wing.

Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Coquelin, Cazorla, Alexis, Campbell, Ozil, Giroud.

Swansea Squad News

Out: None
Doubts: Routledge (calf)

Here's that nightmare I was telling you about.
WHAT? None? Can we average out our lists here? That's just not right!

The only doubt is an extremely slight doubt over Wayne Routledge, who has a calf injury. Routledge has not played since September 22, so I would not expect him to start anyway.

Therefore, there's not much of a need for Garry Monk to change his XI very much. He might opt for a more defensive minded strategy in midfield against the likes of Arsenal, perhaps starting Jack Cork instead of Ki Sung-Yueng, but the other 10 players should be those that started against Aston Villa last weekend.

Predicted XI: Fabianski, Naughton, Williams, Fernandez, Taylor, Shelvey, Ki, Ayew, Montero, Sigurdsson, Gomis.

Current Form

Andre Ayew scores the winner at the weekend.
Tuesday's debacle aside, Arsenal still have a four-match winning streak in the Premier League, so that's something! They will look to extend that streak to five matches for the first time since their eight-match run last spring.

After going unbeaten in their first four league games of the season, Swansea then went winless in five, including losses to Watford, Southampton, and Stoke. Last weekend, they finally won again, beating Aston Villa 2-1, a Swans win that finally cost Tim Sherwood his job with Villa. It was Swansea's first win since August 30 against Manchester United, a period which included crashing out of the League Cup in the third round to Hull City (Hull, meanwhile, advanced over Leicester this week to make the quarterfinals.)

During the winless run, Swansea had fallen from fourth to 14th in the table. They currently sit 12th after last weekend's desperately needed win.

Match Facts

What happened to the Fabianski who used to drop the ball
into his own net, huh?
With Arsenal needing a bounce-back from Tuesday night's loss, Swansea is not exactly the team they want to play, as the Swans have become a bit of a bogey team for the Gunners in recent year. In fact, Swansea was the only team to take all six possible points from Arsenal last season.

At the Liberty last November, Arsenal 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. At the Emirates in May, Gomis had the winner again, against the run of play, in the 85th minute. Arsenal had 68% possession, took 23 shots, and put nine on target, but ex-Gunner Lukasz Fabianski kept the clean sheet.

All-time in league play, Swansea have more wins than Arsenal against each other, by a six to five margin. Arsenal are winless in their last three against the Swans.

The Referee

Oh, that's what number Bellerin wore last year.
The referee is Leicestershire-based Kevin Friend. I've definitely made the "more like Kevin Enemy, amirite?" joke here before, as Arsenal's record is not great with Friend in the middle. In fact, Friend (Enemy?) was the referee for the aforementioned loss to Swansea at the Emirates back in May. He was also in charge of Arsenal's 2-2 draw at Everton, as well as wins at Sunderland and QPR last year.

Swansea's record with Friend was similarly mixed last season, with wins over Arsenal and QPR, a draw with Everton in which Jonjo Shelvey was sent off, and a 4-2 loss at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.

Friend has only taken charge of eight matches in total this season, tied for fewest in the Select Group. He was in charge of the cup tie between Stoke and Chelsea earlier this week, in which he sent off Stoke defender Phil Bardsley. Even in those eight matches, he's already shown four red cards.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Chelsea v. Liverpool; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Saturday: Crystal Palace v. Manchester United; Selhurst Park, London
  • Saturday: Manchester City v. Norwich City; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Saturday: Newcastle United v. Stoke City; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Saturday: Watford v. West Ham United; Vicarage Road, Watford
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Leicester City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Sunday (early): Everton v. Sunderland; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Sunday (late): Southampton v. Bournemouth; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Monday (night): Tottenham Hotspur v. Aston Villa; White Hart Lane, London
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and is running out of ideas for this section. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to give him some ideas.