We return to Premier League action against Swansea City on Saturday, and ahead of the game tactical expert Michael Cox analyses our opponents in detail.
Paul Clement was appointed as Swansea’s third manager of the season last week, after the Jacks dismissed Francesco Guidolin in October, then had an unhappy three-month period with Bob Bradley. This is only Clement’s second job, having taken charge of Derby in 2015/16, but he boasts tremendous experience as a coach and assistant, most notably under Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, PSG, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Clement has been in charge of just one Swansea match so far, last weekend’s 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Hull City, and therefore it’s difficult to judge his strategy so far. However, he fielded a 4-3-3 system in that match, and is unlikely to deviate significantly from that. Expect just one striker: Borja Baston started last weekend but Fernando Llorente could lead the line here. Gylfi Sigurdsson has often been fielded as a false nine, but is more likely to drift inside from the wing.
Swansea have generally been among the most intelligent, methodical passing teams in the Premier League over the past half-decade, and they still boast some extremely reliable passers. Leon Britton is still an option in the centre of the pitch, while Ki Sung-Yeung plays a deeper, more disciplined holding role and Jack Cork is a good all-rounder. Leroy Fer provides more energy and drive, pushing forward into goalscoring positions.
Sigurdsson has often played well against Arsenal in the past, and is the man they must stop here. He scored a superb, long-range free-kick at the Liberty Stadium a couple of seasons ago, and netted at the Emirates earlier this season when dispossessing Granit Xhaka and firing home. He’s renowned as a fine playmaker, but his long-range shooting ability is probably his main attribute.
AREAS TO TARGET
Swansea have conceded the most goals in the Premier League: 45 in 20 games, a completely unsustainable rate if they wish to survive this season. There’s a lack of a reliable partnership at the back, with Federico Fernandez, Alfie Mawson, Jordi Amat and Mike van der Hoorn all possibilities for this weekend. With Olivier Giroud in such good form, Arsenal might go more direct than usual.
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