Arsenal will be ready to pounce on any potential slip-ups by leaders Manchester City as they travel to South Wales for a tricky game against a Swansea City side that did the double over them last term.
The hosts’ victory at lowly Aston Villa was a hugely welcome result after a build-up tinged by a number of malicious rumours concerning boss Garry Monk, who has done an exceptional job throughout his 20-month reign. It came after his first real run of poor results, culminating in an unimaginative display against Stoke City in their last home match, but his team responded strongly to going a goal behind and it was the former club captain’s inspired summer signing Andre Ayew who was there to put away the winner.
On balance it was a game which they were perhaps fortunate to win, but the Swans have the ability within their squad to return to being a side that every team in the Premier League approaches with a degree of caution, and their ability to rise to the big occasion will ensure Arsenal will be wary of this clash. Meanwhile, it was a Gylfi Sigurdsson free-kick which provided their equaliser in the West Midlands, and the Gunners know all about his quality from dead-ball situations.
Only goal difference is keeping Arsenal off the top of the table, and they certainly have been the team to watch of late, scoring 13 times in their last four Premier League outings. It was slightly more nervy last time out against Everton as their mammoth effort to beat Bayern Munich the previous midweek looked to catch up with them a little, but goalkeeper Petr Cech was there to preserve all three points and prove how valuable a summer acquisition he was. However, he was powerless to prevent a shock Capital One Cup defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in midweek.
In terms of the battle to start of the lone striker, the scales have now tipped back into the favour of Olivier Giroud, who was excellent throughout against the Toffees and provided a crucial focal point to their attacking play, an element of the game which is arguably not in the repertoire of the now injured Theo Walcott. Also in sparkling form is Mesut Ozil, who claimed the assist for Giroud’s opener and is now showing his obvious quality on a more consistent basis.
Swansea are back to full-strength following the news that Wayne Routledge has recovered from a calf problem.
That loss at Hillsborough was costly for Arsenal as they lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to injury, and they miss out along with David Ospina, Aaron Ramsey, Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta.
Last Meeting: Arsenal found it tough to break through against Swansea in November 2014, but eventually managed it in the second half when Alexis Sanchez forced the ball from close range. However, the game changed on a double substitution from the home side as a foul on Modou Barrow allowed Gylfi Sigurdsson to curl home a delightful free-kick, and then Bafetimbi Gomis rose to head home powerfully and win it.