Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Swansea City

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, October 15
10:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Jonathan Moss
    • Assistants: Harry Lennard and Marc Perry
    • 4th Official: Neil Swarbrick
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 1 - 2 Swansea City
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 10 Arsenal wins, 8 Swansea wins, 3 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: D-W-W-W-W-W
  • Swansea City's League Form: L-L-D-L-L-L
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 61 °F / 16 °C
What a time for an international break. Arsenal ran their winning streak to five in the league just before our two week break, thanks to a skin-of-their-teeth 1-0 win over Burnley. It's so-far so-good on all fronts: top of the group in Europe, fourth round of the League Cup, and now they're just two points off the top of the table. Of course, there's a lot of football left to be played this season.

So, that brings us to Arsenal's bogey team, Swansea City. Arsenal have only beaten Swansea at the Emirates twice (once in the league, once in the FA Cup) since Swansea's promotion in 2011. Throw into the mix the fact that they'll likely have some form of bounce under a new manager and you've got a recipe for a tricky fixture.

Obviously, as this is an American-run blog, you can bet I have opinions about Swansea's new manager, Bob Bradley. When Bradley was let go as the U.S. men's national team's manager back in 2011, I felt that it was the right decision, that he had taken the program as far as he could and some new ideas were necessary. I do, however, find some of the commentary about him to be a bit hyperbolic; for example, he received a lot of praise from some channels from almost winning promotion with a French second division club.

Arsenal will play seven games in 23 games before the next international break: two Champions League fixtures, a League Cup tie, and four league matches. It's not exactly the time to start dropping points again.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Giroud (toe,) Ramsey (hamstring,) Mertesacker (knee,) Welbeck (knee)
Doubts: Coquelin (knee,) Jenkinson (knee)

He looks good in #10.
Arsenal had a few scares over the international break, but they come back from the lull in better shape than they were going in. Francis Coquelin is back and supposedly available. Carl Jenkinson has been back in full training for a while; I'm curious if he'll get a run out in the League Cup in a few weeks.

The "out" column has a few of the same stragglers, of course. Both Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey missed international duty with France and Wales respectively and both remain out of action for Arsenal. Nothing has changed regarding Per Mertesacker or Danny Welbeck, either.

As I mentioned, there were a few scares during the break. Hector Bellerín had to come through an ankle problem he picked up in training with the Spain U-21s, while Mesut Özil was removed at halftime of Germany's win over Northern Ireland on Tuesday. Both have passed fit, however.

With the Gunners on such a good run of form going into the break, it's hard to see Arsène Wenger make any changes, unless Francis Coquelin were to slide back into the XI.

Predicted XI: Čech, Bellerín, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Iwobi, Walcott, Özil, Alexis.

Swansea City Squad News

Out: Dyer (ankle)
Doubts: Fernández (groin,) Llorente (rib,) Montero (foot)

Holding midfielders (Michael Bradley and Ricardo Clark)
tended to sit deep while their attacks were generated down
the flanks, through Dempsey and Donovan. Also, I forgot
about Robbie Findley.
It's hard to know what to expect from a team that's bringing in a new manager, tactically. We'll start with the injury news, as Nathan Dyer is out with an ankle problem until November. There are 50/50 doubts over Frederico Fernández, Fernando Llorente, and Jefferson Montero, the latter of whom has given Arsenal trouble in the past due to his pace.

As Bradley hasn't managed in the United States in about five years, it's hard for me to speak to what his tactics are going to be at Swansea. Back then, he was known to be conservative defensively, with a deep backline, fullbacks that don't push forward too far, and a relatively deep midfield. The U.S. used their wide players, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, to generate their attack. The XI pictured above was the U.S.'s starting XI against England to open the 2010 World Cup. The tactics might be conservative, but they're not what would classically be considered "negative" either. They sit deep, but don't really park the bus either. Google "empty bucket" for more.

Predicted XI: Fabiański, Rangel, van der Hoorn, Amat, Naughton, Fer, Britton, Cork, Routledge, Sigurðsson, Bastón.

Current Form

I joked in the beginning of the last preview, which was all of two weeks ago now, that Arsenal were on a downward trend. They've gone from a 4-0 win, to a 3-0 win, to a 2-0 win, to a 1-0 win. I made a graph of that, just so you can really visualize it.

All jokes aside, Arsenal are unbeaten since opening day, a streak that has now reached nine. It's five in a row in the league and five in a row across all competitions as well. It's Arsenal's longest winning streak in the league since last October; they haven't won six straight since an eight-match run late in the 2014/15 season. So, let's keep that train rolling.

Swansea, however, are moving in the other direction, so much so that they sacked manager Francesco Guidolin. After beating Burnley on the opening day of the season, Swansea have not won in six league fixtures, losing five and drawing one. They've lost 2-0 to Hull, 2-1 to Leicester, 1-0 to Southampton, 3-1 to Manchester City, and 2-1 to Liverpool. They did get a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, but they blew a 2-1 lead in that one. They've also been bounced from the League Cup by Manchester City, 2-1. They actually had to play City twice in four days, which is just... not advisable.

Match Facts

Ashley Williams bundles in a cross to give Swansea the winner
in this fixture last year.
Arsenal split with Swansea in the league last season, which each side winning away from home. Overall, the Gunners have only one win in their last five meetings with the Swans.

At the Liberty Stadium last October, Arsenal looked shaky for a half but eventually cruised to a 3-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium. The Swans missed a number of chances to draw first blood and the match remained scoreless at halftime. Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock four minutes after the restart. Laurent Koscielny later scored from a Łukasz Fabiański mistake to double the lead, then Joel Campbell scored his first as a Gunner to make the three points safe.

At the Emirates in early March, just days after Arsenal stumbled miserably at Old Trafford, the Gunners suffered an even more damaging loss in a must-win fixture. Joel Campbell opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour, but Wayne Routledge equalized before halftime and Ashley Williams scored a 74th minute winner. With the two losses, Arsenal slipped to six points back of Leicester City with ten games to play; Leicester only dropped six more points over the final ten fixtures. Also, Petr Čech hurt his calf coming forward for a corner at the end.

In 2014/15, Swansea won both league meetings, as Bafétimbi Gomis scored the winner on two occasions. The Swans won 2-1 at the Liberty and 1-0 at the Emirates. He's on loan at Marseille this season, so that's a plus for Arsenal.

Arsenal have not won a league fixture against Swansea at the Emirates since Andrei Arshavin's fluke goal gave the Gunners a 1-0 win on September 10, 2011. They did win an FA Cup replay at home against the Swans in January of 2013, also 1-0, thanks to a late Jack Wilshere goal.

The Referee

The referee is West Yorkshire-based Jonathan Moss. Arsenal had a record of 11 wins from 11 matches with Moss as referee, including the 2015 FA Cup Final win over Aston Villa. Then, the middle of last season hit. Moss was in the middle for Arsenal's damaging 1-1 draw with Norwich City in November, then found himself in the middle of Arsenal's Boxing Day destruction at Southampton. The Gunners righted the ship again in Moss matches with a 2-0 win over West Brom last April, so now they're record is 12 wins from 14.

Swansea have only one league win this season, but guess what? Moss was the referee for that match. That came in the opening match of the year, 1-0 at Turf Moor against Burnley. It doesn't sound like there was much referee intervention in that, unlike another team's 1-0 win at Turf Moor. Last year, Swansea lost both of their matches with Moss in the middle: 2-1 to Manchester United and 1-0 to Southampton. 

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Chelsea v. Leicester City; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Saturday: Bournemouth v. Hull City; Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
  • Saturday: Manchester City v. Everton; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Sunderland; Bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Tottenham Hotspur; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Saturday (late): Crystal Palace v. West Ham United; Selhurst Park, London
  • Sunday (early): Middlesbrough v. Watford; Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
  • Sunday (late): Southampton v. Burnley; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Monday (night): Liverpool v. Manchester United; Anfield, Liverpool
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 motivation to be more clever. I mean, it's gotten so bad that this was literally the same thing he said for this corresponding fixture last season. Get it together, John!