The Breakdown

The Breakdown: Arsenal v Swansea preview

We return to Premier League action on Saturday when Swansea City are the visitors to Emirates Stadium.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke examine our opponents in detail to pinpoint their strengths, dangerman and areas to target.

MC: Paul Clement made his name as assistant manager to Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, before taking charge of Swansea early in 2017. His good relationship with Ancelotti has come in handy, as Swansea surprisingly loaned Portuguese wonderkid Renato Sanchez from Bayern in the summer.

AC: I like Clement, I think he’s a smart manager. He’s got a lot of good players but not that many game changers. Statistically, if you look at the division, they’ve had the fewest number of shots per game in the league, and the fewest number of shots on target too. They’re on averaging two shots on target per game, which is pitiful really. Creatively, they’re struggling and defensively they’ve been a touch open too. They’ve got the third worst record when it comes to conceding shots. Their best player, arguably, has been Fabianski.
MC: Clement started the season playing 3-5-2 or a diamond midfield, but has settled upon a 4-3-3 system which sometimes looks more like 4-3-2-1. Crucially, Swansea have seemingly found a reliable lone centre forward. Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham has scored four times already this season, and his movement and interplay have been very impressive.
MC: Abraham is supported by two very direct counter-attacking players. Jordan Ayew has tremendous speed but somewhat inconsistent end product, while Luciano Narsingh is similarly speedy and operates in wider areas. Both can drift out of matches, but offer a huge threat on the break.
MC: Without a more advanced playmaker, Swansea’s key man is probably veteran Leon Britton, who wears the captain’s armband and provides neat, reliable short sideways passing. He still achieves among the highest pass completion rates in the Premier League.

AC: I do like Tammy Abraham. I think he holds the ball up well. In his first few weeks, I thought he was too nervous, he wasn’t involved enough and didn’t chauffeur the ball. Since he’s scored, though, he’s got more and more confident and now I think he’s feeling like he’s the main man. That should help him develop and blossom as a player. 
MC: Whether Arsenal can specifically target this weakness is questionable, but bizarrely, since the start of last season Swansea have conceded 11 own goals, which is over twice as many as any other Premier League side. 

AC: They’ve got two wingers who are fairly quick and try to make things happen, but what they lack is a real creator. Since Sigurdsson’s gone, they’ve really lacked it. They’ve got Tom Carroll but he doesn’t unlock the door enough and they really struggle to create openings. I think Swansea are in for a tough year.

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