Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side travel to Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Swansea are one of the few Premier League sides capable of outpassing Arsenal, thanks to their long-standing emphasis upon high-tempo possession play, and this is usually an evenly-contested fixture. Both teams have won two apiece of their four Premier League meetings at Liberty Stadium.
"Fixtures between Swansea and Arsenal tend to start cautiously before opening out later"
Swansea’s victory over Aston Villa last weekend was, surprisingly, their first since defeating Manchester United back in August, and it seems unlikely Garry Monk will make significant changes ahead of this game.
There’s a familiar face in goal, with ex-Gunner Lukasz Fabianski an ever-present this season. He’s protected well by captain Ashley Williams and Federico Fernandez, two technically accomplished but physical defenders who track opponents tightly. Neil Taylor is a steady left-back, while Kyle Naughton charged forward repeatedly against Villa last weekend, assisting the winning goal.
Monk will probably stick with a central midfield combination featuring the extremely composed, authoritative Ki Sung-Yeung alongside the more dynamic, energetic Jonjo Shelvey. There’s a chance he could add Jack Cork for extra passing quality, although this is unlikely.
Swansea’s front four is exceptional. Gylfi Sigurdsson plays as a No 10 and is a talented creator - and has also hurt Arsenal previously with his free-kicks. On the left, meanwhile, Jefferson Montero started the season in fine form and was superb in this fixture last year by hugging the touchline, as a graphic depicting his dribbles shows.
Right-sided Andre Ayew is tremendously quick and capable of moving inside to become a second striker, while Bafetimbi Gomis will lead the line. He’s an excellent all-round striker who scored the winner at Liberty Stadium and at the Emirates last season, but has a tendency to be caught offside. He’s been flagged 23 times this season - amazingly, that’s 14 times more than any other Premier League player.
Fixtures between Swansea and Arsenal tend to start cautiously before opening out later. From the eight fixtures over the last three seasons, 19 of the 20 goals scored have come after half-time.
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