Swansea City won away at Arsenal for the third time in 4 games at the Emirates Stadium as they recovered from an early Campbell goal to turn it around and win 2-1 thanks to goals from Wayne Routledge and Ashley Williams.
Francesco Guidolin couldn’t make the second trip to London in 4 days as he was in hospital recovering from a chest infection, but he’ll be delighted to see his side come back from a goal down and win a game despite making 6 changes to the one that deservedly lost at Spurs on Sunday.
It was a shock to see so many changes to the team, and it looked like the Swans were just saving players for the next 3 crucial games against sides competing near the bottom of the table.
Early on, it looked like the changes weren’t going to pay off at all. Arsenal were all over us in the early exchanges, and Arsenal were soon starting to waste some great chances in front of goal, although the woodwork did have to come to our rescue too.
Fer made his debut, Gomis replaced Paloschi, Routledge returned, while Kingsley replaced Taylor at left back – who- along with Britton – were missing from the matchday squad.
Alan Curtis adopted a diamond formation from kick off, but after struggling early on – especially in the wide areas against Arsenal’s overlapping full backs, the Swansea coach soon switched to a 4-3-3. Gomis, who started off in a wide position, with the striker and Routledge either side of Ayew, moved to the centre, with Ayew and Routledge playing in wider areas to assist the two full backs in defensive duties.
But Arsenal were still having plenty of good attacking moves in the wide areas as both Routledge and Ayew weren’t dropping deep enough to limit the gaps.
Sanchez saw a shot come back off the post and straight into Fabianski’s hands, as Arsenal pushed for an early goal. It came via Campbell, who beat the offside trap to brilliantly finish past the former Arsenal goalkeeper – Fabianski.
Swansea’s defensive play, work rate and closing down wasn’t intense enough. There was a lack of urgency in trying to regain possession, and you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that it might be a long evening for the Swans – but they equalised out of nowhere.
Arsenal lost focus for a split second as they though they had won a free kick just outside the box, but play continued as Cork slipped the ball through for Routledge who slotted the ball past Cech to make it 1-1 going into the break.
Alan Curtis made a change at the restart, Ki – who had a poor game and was well off the pace, was taken off for Sigurdsson – who produced the magical moment – sending in a wicked ball from a wide free-kick to allow Williams to get the vital touch to send it past Cech and into the net.
Sigurdsson’s energy and desire to hunt for the ball was much needed, and it seemed to rub off on his team-mates – well most of them apart from Gomis at least.
Gomis had moments of decent play, but he lets himself down time and time again with an awful first touch and poor choice of pass. His first touch – even from a basic pass he receives, sees the ball move 2 or 3 yards away from him that easily allows the opposition to rob him of possession. He was fortunate to last the full 95 minutes as Paloschi would have done a far better job in holding the ball up and helping the team keep hold of possession.
Swansea also made some much needed adjustments in the second half. Both Ayew and Routledge were far more effective in defending in wide areas to prevent moments where the two full backs were left trying to compete with two attacking wide players.
Fabianski wasn’t called upon as often as he was at Spurs – nowhere near in fact as Arsenal’s finishing and final decision making in the final third was woefully poor – especially for a side who desperately needed a win to keep their title hopes alive. Spurs looked like potential champions on Sunday, Arsenal certainly didn’t tonight.
But there was always a chance they could re-take the lead. Swansea are always vulnerable at set pieces but they did well to clear corners, and the home side never came close from scoring at this particular type of set piece.
Williams got the all important winner, and what a moment it was with 16 minutes to play – plus another 5 of injury time. It was a superb outswinging ball in from the right from Sigurdsson. It was whipped in, right around Arsenal’s defensive line-up – forcing Cech to claim it, but Williams managed to get in front of the keeper to bundle it in. He raced over to the away fans over at the far corner as the Swans anticipated another win at Arsenal!
Swansea did defend for the remaining 16 minutes, but it wasn’t backs to the walls like it’s been in recent games. They didn’t sit so deep and just invite pressure, they looked to keep possession for longer and hit balls up for Gomis. It was a far better balance between defence and attack as Arsenal were never able to create many clear cut chances – just 3 shots on target in the entire game.
Another memorable night at the Emirates for the Swans, a huge 6 points clear now of the three sides below them, and a much healthier goal difference too! THE JACKS ARE STAYING UP!