By Josh James at the Liberty Stadium
A tremendous second half attacking display gave us all three points at Swansea. In truth there was little sign of what was to come during a turgid opening half hour. However Olivier Giroud's fifth goal in his last five outings shortly before the break was the catalyst for further goals in the second period. After a blistering start to the second 45 minutes, Alex Iwobi twice saw shots deflect past Luksaz Fabianski. The first looked goalboand before looping off Jack Cork and over the keeper, the second needed a bit more help from the Swansea man - this time Kyle Naughton – to end up in the net. Alexis added a fourth, lashing home from inside the area, as we convincingly wrapped up our first away win since early December.
Setting the Scene
Late heroics have defined our last two matches - and the Gunners savior against Bournemouth and Preston North End, Olivier Giroud, retained his place up front for the trip to Wales. Four players – Petr Cech, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny – were reintroduced to the side after the FA Cup third-round victory. Skipper Koscielny was making his 200th Premier League appearance. As expected, there was no place for new signing Cohen Bramall, but Danny Welbeck was included in a Premier League squad for the first time since May. Just like the last time we faced them, the Swans had a manager taking charge of his first league game for the club, though Paul Clement did oversee their FA Cup defeat at Hull last weekend. The hosts, who named former Gunner Lukasz Fabianki in goal, came into the match in 19th position, and with five defeats in their last six matches.
The game took 10 minutes or so to find any pattern, with both sides looking tentative. It was Swansea who had the first few efforts on goal. Kyle Naughton broke forward from full back to test Cech with a low angled shot from the edge of the area, which the Czech stopper did well to turn away for a corner. Jack Cork and Gylfi Sigurdsson both saw strikes from roughly 20 yards sail just over the bar as the hosts continued to press. Alexis had Arsenal's first attempt, also from the edge of the area, but his low shot was easily gathered by Fabianski at the near post. In truth it was a sluggish opening from Arsenal again though, and we struggled to get in behind the Swansea defence until the move which led to the opening goal. Aaron Ramsey burst into the box with purpose, and cut the ball back across goal, but the stretching Giroud failed to make contact when a tap-in seemed inevitable. To his credit Alexis kept the move alive, and sent the ball back into the area for Ozil to head down. This time the French striker made no mistake from close range, for his 10th goal of the season. It was our first real moment of invention, and served to settle the Gunners. The half ended on a controversial note though. Referee Mike Jones booked Ki Sung-Yueng for simulation, when the home crowd were convinced he was tripped in the box by Koscielny. Replays suggested the ref got the decision spot on.
In contrast to the first half, we started brightly after the interval, buzzing around the Swansea defence with plenty of intent. Ramsey was denied by a good Fabianski save low down when he worked space in the box, but the second goal was on the cards, and duly arrived 10 minutes after the restart. There was more than a touch of good fortune about it though, Iwobi's low shot struck Cork and looped high over Fabianski and into the net. It was no less than we deserved after a pulsating start to the second half. If there was debate about whether it was Iwobi's strike or an own goal, he certainly couldn't claim the third for himself. The young Nigeria winger - who made his Premier League debut in this fixture last season - fired a low cross-cum-shot which cannoned off Naughton and flew past Fabianski. The Gunners were rampant now, and Iwobi was instrumental in the fourth goal too. He won possession outside the box to feed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. His cutback was intended for Ramsey, but instead the ball fell for Alexis to gleefully smash home. Alexis and Ozil were then withdrawn with the points safe, much to the former's obvious displeasure, but aside from two long-range efforts from Granit Xhaka, there was little more goalmouth action. After late drama in the previous two games, it came as a welcome relief to have the points sewn up with plenty of time remaining.
Referee: Mike Jones
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