Before every Arsenal fixture, we'll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners' next opponents.Arsene Wenger's team host Swansea City in the Premier League on Tuesday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Gareth Vincent. MICHAEL COXIt’s rare to witness an opposition side arrive at the Emirates and attempt to dominate, but Swansea City are proactive with their approach and comfortable in possession from goalkeeper to centre forward, so Arsenal might see less of the ball than normal on Tuesday.
The appointment of Garry Monk as interim manager was an indication that Swansea were determined to continue with their philosophy of positive passing football. The 35-year-old had no previous managerial experience and is still registered as a player, making a League Cup appearance in September, but played under Kenny Jackett, Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup, each of whom focused upon passing football during their time in charge.
"Swansea City are proactive with their approach and comfortable in possession from goalkeeper to centre forward"
The statistics tell the story - Swansea average the highest average possession in the Premier League, 60 per cent, and boast the highest pass completion rate at 86 per cent. The emphasis upon neat, technical football means a slight problem with physicality, however, and Swansea win fewer aerial duels than any other side.
Deep-lying midfielder Leon Britton was in and out of the side under Laudrup, but has started every league game under Monk, and is the epitome of Swansea’s methodical ball retention. He barely ever attempts a forward pass, instead distributing the ball carefully towards the flanks, where Swansea attack with great pace.
Swansea focus their attacking down the right, playing 39 per cent of their passes down that side compared to 28 per cent down the left. Nathan Dyer has often played on the right, with fellow speedster Wayne Routledge on the left.
The shape and balance of Swansea depends upon the identity of the man at the top of the midfield triangle. De Guzman acts as a third central midfielder and causes overloads in the centre of the pitch, converted winger Pablo Hernandez brings forward running and dangerous dribbling, while Michu - who returned last weekend after a three-month injury lay-off - is a second striker and scored two late goals in this fixture last season.
Upfront, Wilfried Bony has enjoyed a good first Premier League campaign, and is comfortable both receiving the ball in the channels, and battling in the air - and has a knack of scoring very late in games.GARETH VINCENT, SOUT WALES EVENING POSTIt's been a difficult season for Swansea, as the change of manager would suggest. it hasn't lived up to expectations in terms of where the team is in the league. Having come ninth last year, they were hopeful of finishing in mid-table again, which is still possible if they have a good run between now and May. I think the Europa League has probably had an impact - Swansea have not been in Europe for a long time and, with a small squad, it hasn't been easy to cope with all the extra games.
"Wilfried Bony has had a really good year, especially considering it's his first in the Premier League"
They haven't hit the heights that they did last season in the league either and there's still a lot to do to make sure that they are in the Premier League again next season. I probably didn't expect it to be this difficult for Swansea although I thought that some of the big pundits' predictions talking about Swansea possibly troubling the top seven at the start of the season were a big optimistic.
Ben Davies, the young left back, has had another very good season. He looks every inch a quality Premier League full back. On the other side, Angel Rangel has been good too, with Ashley Williams solid at centre half. Wilfried Bony has had a really good year, especially considering it's his first in the Premier League. When Michael Laudrup was in charge, he wasn't always in the starting eleven but he's up to 19 goals in all competitions, which is a very good return.
Hopefully Tuesday's game will be easy on the eye, with Arsenal renowned for their football and Swansea more recently building up a reputation for playing attractively. It will be very tough for Swansea - Arsenal don't lose many at home and Swansea are struggling for form. Any kind of result will really please Swansea but it's got to the stage now where they have to get results.
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