Arsenal face Swansea City at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Tuesday night.
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SERGE OF HOPE
One of the most encouraging aspects of Arsenal's 2-1 victory at Swansea in September was Serge Gnabry's electric performance. The Germany youth international had already caught the eye with some impressive cameos off the bench, but his goalscoring display in south Wales really announced his arrival.
In only his second start for the club, the 18-year-old offered a real threat from the right flank - although he does not tend to hug the touchline like traditional wingers. Gnabry's preferred position is at No 10, just behind the central striker, and his natural tendancy is to cut inside into this zone.
At the Liberty Stadium, he played as many successful passes from this more central area (green squares in Fig 1) as on the right flank. In addition, the one 'key pass' he made (yellow square) to create a goalscoring opportunity for a team-mate was right in the middle of the zone a No 10 tends to populate.
Mesut Ozil to Gnabry was the most prolific passing combination of that game from an Arsenal perspective, and as our graphic above (Fig 2) shows the teenager was found most often cutting inside from the right flank.
In fact, as our average position graphic above (Fig 3) shows, Gnabry was often right on the shoulder of Ozil (No 11), tucked in from the flank, with Bacary Sagna (No 3) providing the width from right back.
Gnabry scored his first senior goal for Club in the 57th minute, and once again he was stationed further inside than a traditional winger might be (ball symbol in Fig 1). The young German's constant movement caused real problems for the Swansea backline, and his ability to swap positions with Ozil lent the Arsenal attack a dynamic edge.
The teenager's last start for the Gunners was in the 2-2 draw with Southampton on January 28, but should he get the nod on Tuesday night his fine performance in south Wales should fill him with real confidence.
ARSENAL v SWANSEA CITY - MATCH FACTS
- The away side has scored two goals in five of the last six meetings between Arsenal and Swansea in all competitions
- Arsenal have lost none of their last 13 Premier League home games (W10 D3), conceding just four goals in that run
- There has never been a league draw between Arsenal and Swansea, with the Gunners winning five and the Swans four of the nine meetings
- The Gunners have not conceded a first-half goal in any of their last 11 Premier League matches at the Emirates. The last opposition player to score in the first half there was Stoke’s Geoff Cameron in September
- Arsenal have won just three of their last eight Premier League games (W3 D2 L3), just one more than Swansea have in their last eight (2)
- If the season had started on January 1,Swansea would be in the relegation zone, two points away from safety
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