I don’t like this particular fixture that we’ve got today. It was this same fixture about this time last year that I was almost banned from watching The Arsenal with family members around, because of the profanities that I was firing in the direction of the flat screen, as everybody was around celebrating my birthday. Let’s just say my two year old niece learnt words that mummy and daddy didn’t use when she was at home.
The game is made all the more difficult with injuries that are mounting, but our poor record at The Liberty hardly makes for putting ones mind at ease. Since they have been in the Premier League, we’ve rarely had an easy afternoon against them and given the two teams respective league positions over the last four years, you’d expect us to have a better home and away record. But to date in the Premier League era we’ve won four, lost four and drawn two. One of the draws and wins for us was in the FA Cup, so Swansea actually have a better Premier League record than we do.
What is most surprising, is that apart from last season at The Emirates, Swansea have always come to play football against us and rather than us serving them up a bit of beat down, they’ve usually matched us. So today I’m not expecting anything but a difficult afternoon for the team in Wales.
I’m not sure how Gary Monk will set up against us, as he’s changed his style a couple of times this season based on the opposition. Normally you’d expect a team like Swansea to sit deep and catch us on the counter, which could be the tactic today with players like Montero able to have a run at us. However, rather than a Calum Chambers slightly out of position at right back, we have our own speedy Gonzales in Hector Bellerin who will come back in today, so hopefully he won’t get as much joy down our right hand side as he did last season.
If Swansea do play deep and hit us on the counter, then it will be Jonjo Shelvey who we’ll need to stifle I think, because he’ll look to play as a type of quarterback pinging longer diagonal balls to the wide men to spring quick moves. That’s where a higher press may work to our advantage and I hope what Arsene said last weekend about all of the players tracking and tackling more, comes in handy.
Oh, and one more thing Arsenal, don’t give any free kicks away on or around the edge of our own D, because Siggurdson will take advantage. The guy has a mean free kick on him and we were on the end of one last season, so let’s just hope that Coquelin and Cazorla are disciplined in that area.
As for us, I think we’ll see the usual (available) suspects, with just the decision wide right being the main headache Arsene has to consider. I think he will go for Campbell again and as I’ve been saying all week, he needs to step up. If he has a quiet game today, then the whole “yeah, but look at the quality of players he’s playing with” argument from the midweek defeat to Sheffield Wednesday goes completely out of the window. Joel will be up alongside the best of what Arsenal has to offer today, so he needs to show he’s worthy of a starting place.
Moneychester City are going to tonk Norwich today, so nothing else other than a win will doodle-do for us. Id we draw perhaps it’s not the worst result in the world, but we’ll have another tough game next weekend and I can see there being a gap open up between us and City if we draw or lose for two consecutive weeks in the league. But that’s what life is like at the top. The margins for error are negligible and if you’re going to win the league, you need to win these types of games, away from home, when you’ve got a few players injured. The squad is going to be tested to its limit and this week feels like it could be a season definer, what with Bayern and the Spuds looming on the horizon. So often these weeks have turned in to nightmares in the recent past, so if this Arsenal team really has moved on, if they really are to be champions, you have to imagine they have to pick a minimum of four points from the next two league games.
Come on Arsenal, let’s do this!