Friday, 9 September 2011

Arsenal's Premier League Game With Swansea City Previewed.

It's been almost two weeks since the shambles that was Arsenal's 8-2 defeat away to Manchester United in the Premier League. It was a day that will live long in the memories of Arsenal fans, but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. It was Arsenal's worst result in over 100 years, and it left an awful lot of questions to be asked of the Arsenal squad and management.

The transfer window closed only a few days later, but Arsenal sprang into action and signed five experienced players who were all a minimum of 26 years old. The new players were welcomed by the vast majority of Arsenal fans, and their arrival proved even more important with the news that Jack Wilshere and Thomas Vermaelen were to be sidelined for the next few months. The Arsenal team that lost to United was devoid of leadership, and both of those players bring that and an awful lot more to the team.

Arsenal still have problems with suspensions after three red cards in their first three games, and the ban Alex Song received as well. Thankfully Emmanuel Frimpong will be available after missing the United game through his one game suspension, but Song, Gervinho and Carl Jenkinson are all still unavailable. Both Song and Gervinho are certain starters along with Wilshere and Vermaelen which leaves Arsenal missing four of their strongest line up.

Thankfully Per Mertesacker and Mikael Arteta arrived on deadline day, and I expect them both to start against Swansea. Andre Santos would probably be a certainty to start too, but he hasn't played since the Copa America and a fit again Kieran Gibbs will probably get the nod instead. I think that both Yossi Benayoun and Park Ju Young will start on the bench, but they should hopefully get the chance to receive a welcome from the home fans at some stage.

Theo Walcott has been passed fit which means Arsenal's attacking trio should be the same as it was against United with Aaron Ramsey being the only midfielder retaining his place. Arteta and Frimpong should play in the middle with him, and I'm dying to see how well Arteta can fit into the Arsenal style of play. His ability at set pieces will be a real asset to team, as I can't remember the last time Arsenal scored from a free kick.

The return of Bacary Sagna should also help to strengthen the Arsenal defence after he missed the United humiliation through illness. I would imagine Laurent Koscielny will take the last remaining defensive role with Wojciech Szczesny in goal of course. Arsenal need to defend a whole lot better as a team, but Swansea are nowhere near as good as United.

I'm hoping for the players to get a rousing reception from the home fans to help them put August's league form behind them. The Premier League only really starts for Arsenal against Swansea, and they are playing catch-up on the pace setters. The uncertainty over the squad and late transfer dealings saw only one point gained out of nine in August, but the three games in September are all games Arsenal should and hopefully will win.

After the visit of Swansea to the Emirates there's a trip to Blackburn Rovers and then a home game against Bolton Wanderers to finish the month off. There are of course Champions League and Carling Cup games to be played too, and hopefully a strong month from Arsenal will go  long way towards banishing the feeling after the United defeat. I'll be heading over to see Arsenal take on Sunderland in the first game after the next international break, and it would be great if their league position is a lot healthier by that time.

Swansea have played quite well since their promotion, but they have very little end product so far. They have failed to score in all three of their Premier League games, but they have also managed to keep two clean sheets. They have made very few changes to the team that was promoted via the playoffs, and Arsenal have a far better team available to them.

As long as Arsenal approach the game in the right manner and play with the passion and pace required in the Premier League I think they should have a relatively comfortable victory. I'm predicting a 3-0 win with Robin Van Persie scoring at least one goal, and Walcott possibly getting his fourth goal of the season so far. Arsenal haven't created too many chances in the league so far this season, but if they can't create them against Swansea they could have a real struggle ahead of them this season.

I was highly impressed with the performances of Alec Oxlade-Chamberlain for the England under 21 team last week, and I hope he gets a chance to come on and impress at some stage against Swansea. I didn't think it was fair on him to introduce him away to United with Arsenal 3-1 down, and to bring him on in place of Arsenal's only defensive midfielder. The best possible introduction for him should be at home against a team Arsenal are already running ragged, so he can have a chance to build some confidence and show what he can do.

It's great to finally have Premier League football back after two weeks of boring international football, and I'll be on the edge of my seat as tomorrow's game kicks off at 3pm. I don't think it's live on TV in this part of the world so I will be looking for a good stream to watch the game. Arsenal will hopefully get the first of seven wins in 23 days before the next dreaded international break takes over our screens.

No matter how bad the defeat against United felt I am and always will be an Arsenal fan, and I'll be cheering them on in every single game they play.


That's it for today.

Here's a look at how well Arteta can strike a free kick.



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