By Chris Harris at Emirates Stadium
Arsenal clung on to win a thriller that will be remembered for Mesut Ozil’s stunning volley.
Two predatory finishes from Theo Walcott put the Gunners in charge but Gylfi Sigurdsson threw Swansea a lifeline before the break.
Ozil’s magic moment came next, a perfectly-executed volley that flew past former Gunner Lukasz Fabianski. Not a bad way to mark your birthday.
But once more the two-goal advantage was squandered, Gonzalez Borja Baston finding space to sweep home from inside the box.
Arsenal’s task was magnified when Granit Xhaka was shown a straight red card, but they survived a few scares to grab all three points.
This was a frantic game that could have been wrapped up much earlier. But the result was the right one - and Arsene Wenger’s side edge closer to the top of the table.
SETTING THE SCENE
After five straight wins, Wenger saw no need to make changes as Premier League football resumed on a bright, mild day in north London.
Ozil was fit to start on his birthday and Petr Cech made his 50th appearance, while Francis Coquelin - back from injury - and Lucas returned to the squad.
Swansea haven’t had much joy this season but their record at the Emirates sounded a note of caution - three wins in five top-flight visits.
The visitors had Fabianksi in goal and a new manager to impress as Bob Bradley took charge for the first time.
The fear after international breaks is that momentum is lost, but Arsenal started fluently enough.
The tempo was high, the movement was imaginative and Swansea were pulled left and right as the home side looked for an opening.
Ozil had the first glimpse of goal but failed to connect with a low ball from Monreal. Shkodran Mustafi went closer with a firm header from an Ozil corner.
Swansea rallied and almost caught the hosts out on the break. Modou Barrow found Leroy Fer in too much space on the edge of the box and he fired just over.
Xhaka was denied by a good block after Ozil picked him out 20 yards from goal. Then a defensive lapse let Arsenal in for the opener.
Walcott started the move with a short pass to Alexis, and his lofted first-time ball found Bellerin running in behind. He headed across goal, Jordi Amat failed to clear and Walcott nipped in ahead of Fabianski to apply the finish.
An audacious Alexis lob bounced just wide as Arsenal turned up the heat, and another key pass from Ozil found Bellerin for a shot that Fabianski diverted behind.
Seconds later, it was 2-0. Jack Cork mistimed his clearing header into the back of Sigurdsson, and Walcott pounced for his second close-range finish.
You sensed Arsenal could run riot but there was a twist seven minutes before the break. Xhaka was dispossessed by Sigurdsson 25 yards out and he ran on to beat Cech with aplomb.
Sigurdsson’s goal made the start of the second half more fraught than it should have been. But Ozil calmed everybody down with an absolute beauty.
Walcott had just been denied his hat-trick by a fine Fabianski save but the keeper had no chance when Ozil met Alexis’ deep cross with a perfectly-executed volley.
It ripped past Fabianski and into the roof of the net. One to watch again and again on Arsenal Player.
Suddenly the swagger was back in Arsenal’s game, but that dissipated when another two-goal cushion was surrendered. It was a simple move too, Barrow racing down the right and squaring for Baston to sweep past Cech.
Wenger brought on Coquelin for Iwobi in an attempt to shore up the midfield. But that midfield was soon depleted when Xhaka was sent off for a trip on Barrow.
It looked harsh but Arsenal had to get on with it - and they had 20 minutes to hold out.
Tempers frayed as play was pulled back with Ozil through on goal after a quickly-taken free-kick. Nerves were frayed when Barrow squandered a golden chance for Swansea.
Barrow, causing problems on Swansea’s right, set up Sigurdsson but he cleared the crossbar.
On came Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Ozil and Alexis as Arsenal prepared to dig in. Just as significantly, off went Barrow.
Walcott had a chance to clinch the win but rolled his shot agonisingly against the inside of the post.
He skied an easier effort in stoppage time, but Cech was forced into two late saves at the other end in a frenetic finish.
The relief at the final whistle was palpable. Job done - just.
Referee: Jonathan Moss
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