By Rob Kelly at Liberty Stadium
Olivier Giroud scored Arsenal’s 2,000th goal under Arsene Wenger on the way to a highly-impressive victory at Swansea City.
Both sides created a host of opportunities in south Wales, but it was the France international, compatriot Laurent Koscielny and Joel Campbell who were on target to secure three precious points.
The match got off to a sluggish start, although Campbell - in for his first Premier League start - came close, before Hector Bellerin made a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Bafetimbi Gomis.
Giroud wasted a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when he fired high and wide, but he made amends at the start of the second half by heading the Gunners in front.
Suddenly the game opened up as the hosts committed men forwards, and Petr Cech had to be alert to palm away a firm Jefferson Montero effort.
Just as the pressure was starting to build, Koscielny gave the Gunners some breathing room as he forced the ball over the line from close range.
Campbell then capped off a highly-encouraging individual performance when he scored his first-ever Premier League goal after fine build-up play.
These are the sort of games you need to win if you are to challenge for the title - and the Gunners underlined their credentials with a ruthless performance that perfectly sets things up for a big week ahead.
SETTING THE SCENE
Much of the talk in the lead-up to this match had revolved around who would start on the right flank - and it was Campbell who got the nod.
In the absence of Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, the Costa Rica international was in for his first-ever Premier League start - and just his 15th appearance in Arsenal colours.
Campbell was one of seven changes to the side that had lost to Sheffield Wednesday in midweek, with the likes of Alexis, Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla all restored to the starting XI.
Youngsters Matt Macey and Alex Iwobi were named on the bench, while Swansea started with Gomis up front - the French striker who twice scored the winner against the Gunners last season.
The game got off to a tentative start, with both sides happy to feel each other out in the opening exchanges - although Nacho Monreal had a sight of goal but dragged his shot wide.
The Gunners soon started to grow into the match, and Campbell came within inches of breaking the deadlock with a brilliant first-time effort that sailed just past the far post.
But the threat Swansea posed was soon writ large when Shelvey played Gomis clean through on a goal with a fine slide-rule pass. The French forward raced on, but hesitated as he went around Cech which allowed Bellerin to slide in and steal the ball of the striker’s foot right in the nick of time.
It was a big let off for the Gunners, who soon found themselves under further pressure as Gomis tested Cech with a firm header from Montero’s cross.
Back Arsenal came, and Giroud had a golden opportunity just before the half-hour as Alexis found him in space in the area, but the France international blazed his effort over the bar.
Campbell threatened again with a snap-shot from the edge of the area, but former Gunner Lukasz Fabianski was equal to it.
The Gunners made the perfect start to the second half as Ozil whipped in a corner from the left and Giroud found himself unmarked in the area, diverting his header into the bottom corner.
It was Arsenal’s 2,000th goal under Wenger and could not have come at a better side, as they sought to establish their dominance on a well-contested affair.
But Swansea came straight back at the Gunners, with Cech having to dive full length to palm away Montero’s fizzing effort from the edge of the area.
Arsenal kept the tempo up as they sought to put the game to bed and they had their reward in the 68th minute when Koscielny took advantage of a Fabianski error to force the ball in from close range.
The home fans were not happy, but referee Kevin Friend insisted there was no foul after Koscielny challenged Fabianski in the area, before stabbing the loose ball into the bottom corner.
Campbell then put the seal on a fine individual performance in the 74th minute when he got on the end of Ozil’s ball across the face of goal, took a touch and bent it into the far corner.
It was a fine way to cap a brilliant afternoon’s work for the Gunners ahead of a week that is sure to test them to the limit. But on this evidence, they have nothing to fear.
Referee: Kevin Friend
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