Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. Swansea City

Emirates Stadium, London
Saturday, October 28
10:00 a.m. EDT, 15:00 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Lee Mason
    • Assistants: Harry Lennard and Derek Eaton
    • 4th Official: Lee Probert
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 3 - 2 Swansea
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 12 Arsenal wins, 8 Swansea wins, 3 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: W-D-W-W-L-W
  • Swansea's League Form: L-D-L-L-W-L
For the first time in my six years of writing for this website, I missed two consecutive match previews, so I will start off by offering my apologies. On the other hand, I got married over the weekend, so I think the excuse is pretty legit. Also, Arsenal won both of those matches, so how much can you really complain? Arsenal are 3-0 in games where I have failed to write a match preview since I started here in February of 2011, so maybe every loss has been my fault?

Fingers crossed that the match at Watford was a blip instead of a derailment. Arsenal have responded well by winning in Belgrade and at Everton, then coming from behind with their reserves to beat Norwich in extra time of the League Cup. Since the 4-0 loss at Anfield, Arsenal have won nine, lost once, and drawn at Chelsea. Not too shabby for a club in crisis.

It's a big week for Arsenal as we steamroll towards the November international break: the Gunners have Swansea and Red Star Belgrade at home before a trip to Manchester City next weekend. City have yet to lose this season and Arsenal are nine points back of the top spot in the league. Winning the title is likely a pipe dream, but Arsenal are only four points out of second, so reclaiming a top four finish is completely doable.

But to do that, you have to win the games you are supposed to win and you absolutely must win your home games, so nothing less than three points on Saturday against the Swans would be acceptable.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Ospina (groin,) Welbeck (groin,) Mustafi (hamstring,) Cazorla (Achilles? Is that what it is? I keep forgetting)
Doubts: Chambers (match fitness)

Arsenal have no fresh injury concerns heading into this weekend's match and Arsène Wenger will be tempted to start the same XI that swashbuckled their way to a win at Goodison Park.

My absence in writing these previews meant that I had failed to realize that David Ospina was hurt until Matt Macey started against Norwich on Tuesday. The Colombian, who has a groin problem, is out for tomorrow but could start against Red Star Belgrade this coming Thursday.

Calum Chambers (thigh) is back in full training, but Arsenal are still without Danny Welbeck, Shkodran Mustafi, and, of course, Santi Cazorla.

Predicted XI: Čech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerín, Kolašinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Özil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Swansea Squad News

Out: Olsson (hamstring,) Bartley (knee,) Sanches (thigh,) Bony (hamstring)

Martin Olsson picked up a hamstring injury in Swansea's League Cup loss to Manchester United on Tuesday. He joins a list of injured players that also includes former Arsenal defender Kyle Bartley. As a result, Àngel Rangel will come in at right back, pushing Kyle Naughton to the left.

Arsenal will avoid facing Renato Sanches, the Portuguese Wunderkind who is on loan from Bayern Munich and is out with a thigh injury, as well as Wilfried Bony, who transferred back to his former club this summer, and is out with a hamstring problem.

Arsenal will not, however, avoid facing their former goalkeeper in Łukasz Fabiański. So, you know, do what you will with that.

Predicted XI: Fabiański, Rangel, Fernández, Mawson, Naughton, Britton, Carroll, Fer, Narsingh, Abraham, Ayew.

Current Form

As mentioned at the top, Arsenal have nine wins from their last 11 fixtures, though that includes the League Cup win over Norwich City, which was 1-1 after regulation. So, if you want to get super technical, it's eight wins, two draws, and the one loss at Watford. But, really, nine wins sounds better, doesn't it? And they did win the game in question, so I'll allow it if you will.

As for Swansea, they were knocked out of the League Cup by Manchester United this week and currently sit 15th in the table, with eight points. They are out of the relegation zone on goal difference alone; their -4 is best among the four clubs sitting on eight points. It is worth noting, however, that the Swans have picked up two good road draws at Southampton and Tottenham, though maybe picking up points at Wembley isn't something worth writing home about? They also picked up a win at Crystal Palace, meaning five of their eight points have come on their travels, and that their road record is better than their record at the Liberty Stadium. Across all competitions, they have lost four of their last five since beating Reading in the League Cup's third round.

Match Facts

Swansea have often been a bogey team for Arsenal; however, the Gunners took all six points from the Swans last season.

Arsenal made it difficult at the Emirates last year, however. Theo Walcott put Arsenal up 2-0 with a brace within 33 minutes, but Gylfi Sigurðsson pulled one back for the visitors on 38 minutes. Mesut Özil made it 3-1, but Borja Baston pulled another back on 66 minutes and Granit Xhaka was sent off four minutes later. Arsenal were forced to defend their one-goal lead with 10 men for 20 minutes, but held strong and came away with the 3-2 victory.

Prior to that match, Arsenal had 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.

Things were much easier at the Liberty Stadium in January. Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal a 1-0 halftime lead, but the Gunners added three more in the second half, through two own goals and an Alexis Sánchez tally, to come out of Wales with a 4-0 victory.

The Referee

The referee is Lancashire-based Lee Mason. Arsenal have yet to see Mason this season, but Swansea have had him once, for their 2-1 home loss to Watford. Huh, losing 2-1 to Watford, what a novel concept.

Last year, Arsenal saw Mason only once, for their 3-1 home win over Stoke City in December. Swansea also had him only once last season; oddly, it was also a loss to Watford. I'm sensing a theme here.

Swansea have not won with Mason since November 28, 2012 and are winless in their last eight with him in the middle. Arsenal have not lost with Mason since April 18, 2010 and are unbeaten in 17 with him. Plenty of draws in both lists, however, though Arsenal have only lost twice in 24 matches with Mason in the middle, and Swansea have only won four out of 20.

Around the League
  • Saturday (early): Manchester United v. Tottenham Hotspur; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Saturday: Crystal Palace v. West Ham United; Selhurst Park, London
  • Saturday: Liverpool v. Huddersfield Town; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Saturday: Watford v. Stoke City; Vicarage Road, Watford
  • Saturday: West Bromwich Albion v. Manchester City; The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Saturday (late): Bournemouth v. Chelsea; Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
  • Sunday (early): Brighton & Hove Albion v. Southampton; The American Express Community Stadium, Falmer
  • Sunday (late): Leicester City v. Everton; King Power Stadium, Leicester
  • Monday (night): Burnley v. Newcastle United; Turf Moor, Burnley
John Painting is a contributing writer to the Modern Gooner and a fictional mad scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat to foil his fiendish plot for world domination.