Arsenal moved two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory at Swansea on Saturday evening.
Early second-half goals from Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey saw Arsène Wenger’s side complete a dogged but deserved win. Ben Davies reduced the arrears nine minutes from time but the visitors held on with something to spare.
Arsenal were average in the first half but they responded after the restart with strikes of quality. They also dug in when required in the final minutes.
The win equaled the Club record for away wins in the Premier League. Gnabry’s goal also saw him become Arsenal’s second youngest scorer in the competition.
But the most important fact of the day was Wenger’s men now have clear daylight at the top.
Before kick-off, the manager’s team selection saw him revert to the XI that had seen off Stoke City last weekend.
Only Per Mertesacker and 18-year-old Gnabry retained their places from the midweek win at West Brom in the Capital One Cup.
The early pace was frenetic and dictated by Swansea. Their only real chance came when Jonjo Shelvey smashed a drive just over the bar from distance.
Arsenal gradually gained their poise. Ramsey fired over a flat cross that the leaping Mertesacker nodded wide. The Welshman then drove a shot wide himself.
As the pace died down, the chances died out. The first 45 minutes would elapse without a legitimate shot on target.
Just before the half-hour, Swansea thought they were about to score when Michu slid in as Wojciech Szczesny tried to usher the ball out and Wayne Routledge fired towards an empty goal from an acute angle.
Referee Mark Clattenburg ruled that Spaniard had not saved the ball before it went over the byline. In any case the effort drifted wide of the far post.
The half was not a stinker but it was pretty stale and both sides were looking to the break when the clearest chance emerged.
Gnabry drove forward, danced around a couple of challenges before slipping Olivier Giroud into space on the left of the area.
It was the type of chance the Frenchman has been burying this season. This time he slid his shot wide.
Arsenal needed the change at half-time. They had not been dominated but they had been slighty inferior to their hosts.
That would alter at the start of the second half. The visitors had more energy and vitality.
Within 17 minutes of the restart they would have a 2-0 lead - both from breakaways.
Just before the hour, Ramsey cleverly tucked a reverse pass into the path of Gnabry, who drove home his first goal for the Club into the far corner of the net.
Five minutes later, Giroud’s backheel allowed Ramsey to fire home his eighth goal of the season into the roof of the net.
Inbetween those strikes, Mesut Ozil had spurned a clear chance to score when, after being sent clear on the left, he telegraphed his shot and Michel Vorm saved.
The Arsenal goals had come from Swansea pressure. Having conceded twice, that was only going to continue.
The Welsh side had already added big-money striker Wilfred Bony from the bench. They began to create pressure and Szczesny had to dive full length to his right to save Nathan Dyer’s rasping effort.
In the 75th minute, Bony pounced on Jack Wilshere’s error but the angle was too tight to beat Szczesny.
Nine minutes from time the Ivorian produced a lovely flick from which the onrushing Davies nudged home from close range.
Swansea mounted pressure late on but Szczesny’s handling was brilliant.
And the team in front of him had handled this tough-looking game with the perfect blend of skill and strength.
- Gnabry 78 Goal!
- Flamini Yellow Card
- Ozil 88
- Ramsey Goal!
- Wilshere 90
- Monreal 88
- Jenkinson 90
- Arteta 78 Yellow Card
- Davies Goal!
- Chico Yellow Card
- Guzman Yellow Card
- Shelvey 61
- Routledge 64
- Canas Yellow Card
- Pozuelo 64
- Bony 61