By Richard Clarke at Emirates Stadium
Miguel Michu struck twice in the last three minutes on Saturday to consign Arsenal to their fourth Premier League defeat of the season.
A tight game seemed destined for a draw before the Swansea midfielder played a one-two with Luke Moore and stroked home the opener.
The goal left Arsenal chasing the game and, in the last minute, Nathan Dyer chased down Carl Jenkinson on the right flank. The ball fell kindly for the onrushing Michu, who steadied himself before beating Wojciech Szczesny.
The goals arrived just as it seemed that both sides had settled for a point. Swansea had been super in the first half but Arsenal were better after the break.
So a disappointing day for Arsenal and a defeat they can ill-afford.
They must dust themselves down and battle their way back to form.
Wenger made four changes from the side that had drawn at Everton in midweek.
It was the usual kind of rotation from the manager given his side are playing two massive games per week at the moment.
Everton, Swansea and, next weekend’s opponents, West Brom were all around Arsenal in the table. On Tuesday, Wenger will take his side to Olympiacos in the hope of securing top spot in Champions League Group B.
These are busy and important times.
However, this afternoon, Arsenal’s start was as cold as the temperature in North London. The home side had struggled for attacking fluency during their two trips this week and they created precious little in the opening quarter-hour.
And, at that point, they nearly fell behind. Itay Shechter spread the ball wide to the unmarked Angel Rangel on the right. Szczesny stood his ground to make a crucial double save.
Swansea were being Swansea. Passing, passing and passing as usual. It was not always incisive but they were creating more than Arsenal.
In fairness the home side got going as the half-hour approach. Jenkinson’s cross was whipped away from Gervinho had at the last second, Podolski’s shot was blocked and Cazorla headed the ball into the hands of Gerhard Tremmel.
Swansea would reply with their best chance of the game. Michu beat Per Mertesacker to nod Dyer clear through the middle. Vermaelen stormed back to deflect the midfielder’s effort over the bar.
The chance seemed to dent Arsenal’s confidence and restore Swansea’s dynamism. It was easy to see why the Welsh side were so admired this season. Impish and inventive, they constantly tested Arsenal but only came close when Jonathan De Guzman’s free-kick skimmed the net.
In the dying seconds of the half, Podolski’s ambitious cross found Gervinho but the Ivorian slid his header wide.
It had been an uninspired half for Arsenal but they were better immediately after the break.
Wilshere set up Cazorla in the opening minutes but the Spaniard drive his shot straight at Tremmel.
Gervinho was baulked by Chico Flores and the crowd appealed for a penalty. Referee Mark Clattenburg did not give the foul but, in any case, replays showed the incident was outside the area.
There was a much better shout soon afterwards when Rangel blocked off Cazorla.
The Swansea defender rippled the sidenetting just after the hour as the visitors start to flex their muscles once more.
It prompted Wenger to make a bold double change – Giroud and Oxlade-Chamberlain for Gervinho and Podolski.
The French striker was in the action immediately, chasing down Chico and seemingly being brought down by the Swansea defender when clean through on the edge of the area. The referee thought otherwise.
Cazorla then volleyed into the hands of Tremmel. Arsenal had been much better in the second half and, overall, now had control.
However Swansea were still a handful. Michu thumped a shot at Szczesny and substitute Moore blazed wide.
With 10 minutes remaining, Wenger withdrew Wilshere for Tomas Rosicky. It was the Czech international’s first appearance this season because of a tendon problem.
By now, Swansea were sensing an upset. With seven minutes left, substitute Dwight Tiendalli played a one-two with Moore to go clear in the right-hand channel.
Again Szczesny stood up to save at the near post. The Polish international had been crucial for Arsenal this afternoon.
The keeper could do nothing about the Spaniard’s late brace however.
Those two late sucker-punches will hurt Arsenal but there is still time to recover this season.
- Vermaelen (C) Yellow Card
- Wilshere 80
- Gervinho 67
- Podolski 67
- Oxlade-Chamberlain 67
- Rosicky 80
- Giroud 67
- Williams (C)
- Guzman 75
- Michu Goal! Goal!
- Shechter 67
- Tiendalli 75
- Moore 67