Swansea and Arsenal play at the Liberty Stadium tonight in the Premier League, with the game set to kick off at 7:45pm. Swansea are bottom of the table, while Arsenal are sixth.
After Swansea beat Liverpool at home in their last league game, they’ll be hoping that there will be another upset on the cards tonight when they host Arsenal. They’re bottom of the league, but they’re hoping that new manager Carlos Carvalhal can really improve things and keep them up.
A win tonight wouldn’t lift them out of the relegation zone, but they would only be behind Stoke on goal difference. A win actually will lift them out of the bottom three, as they will move ahead of Stoke on goal difference.They have improved already since he came in, and defeat to Spurs is the only league game he has lost in his four games in charge. They beat Watford and Liverpool during that run, while they got a draw against Newcastle at St. James’ Park. If they can keep it up they have a real chance of staying in the Premier League, and they’ll know that they’re more than capable of upsetting Arsenal tonight.
We all know how poor Arsenal are away from home, and Swansea will be looking to make it really difficult for the Gunners tonight. They can really trouble Arsenal if they don’t give them any time on the ball and defend well. Swansea have a decent record against Arsenal, and have won five of their 13 Premier League games against them. They’ve beaten them in Wales before, and they’ll be trying to take some confidence from those games.
Carlos Carvalhal said: “Tomorrow we will be playing against a very strong team. They have everything to win the game – a fantastic manager, fantastic squad and a fantastic dynamic.
“They are one of the best teams in England and one of the best in the world.
“We will fight and try to find the best strategy to block them and, at the same time, try to explore their weak points.
“We’ll fight for the three points, but it will be a very difficult game. We must concentrate and, if we do, we have a chance.”
Renato Sanches with miss the game after suffering a hamstring injury at the weekend, but the Swans will have Federico Fernandez available.
Arsenal are looking for a win to keep them in touch with the top four. They’re currently sixth in the table, and are three points behind Spurs in fifth, while there’s a five point gap between the Gunners and Liverpool, who are fourth. They can’t afford to drop more points on the road as they’ll see the top four slowly drift away from them. Their form has been a bit up-and-down of late, but they’ll go into this one with a bit of confidence after beating Crystal Palace in their last league game, while they also beat Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final to set up a game with Man City in the final at Wembley. They’ll be looking to keep that little run going and try to close the gap on the sides ahead of them.
As I have written a number of times before, I have little or no confidence in them when they play away from home. They have dropped so many points away from home this season, and they also went out of the FA Cup against Championship side Nottingham Forest. Their away record hasn’t been anywhere near good enough. They have won just three of their 12 away games so far this season, and that’s really poor for a club with aspirations of challenging for the league title. Obviously, they haven’t managed to do that in recent years, and they won’t do it this year either. They need to sort things out if they want to qualify for the Champions League for next season through finishing in the top four, but I’m not confident they’ll manage that. Maybe the signing of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, along with the imminent arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will rejuvenate them and they’ll go on a better run of form, but only time will tell.
Arsene Wenger was asked about Liverpool losing to Swansea, and he told Arsenal.com: “When you don’t win you are criticised and I think Liverpool tried and what is a good warning for us is that Liverpool are an attacking team – you cannot criticise them for not attacking, they are very dangerous going forward and they didn’t manage to score against Swansea. That is a good warning for us that we have to produce absolute total offensive performance.”
When asked whether it’s more difficult to face clubs like Swansea these days, he said: “Yes, it makes it more difficult and I agree completely with you. When you anticipate the league you think as well that you have to make your ground up before April because in April you have a few teams. What we noticed last year is that some of the teams who battled to be safe, once they were safe they lost many games and so it was more difficult to make ground up after April because some teams, once they’re safe, they gave up and were a bit less focused and lost easy games. You could see scores of 4-0 after 20 minutes for example and so that’s why this period is vital for us.”
Arsenal will more than likely give Henrikh Mkhitaryan a debut after joining from Man Utd last week, while Olivier Giroud could be in the squad again after overcoming a hamstring injury. Danny Welbeck is still out.
I think Arsenal should have more than enough quality to win this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Swansea were to beat them. Arsenal falter far too much when they play away from home, and we know Swansea are capable of a shock after they beat Liverpool last week. It could be a tough test for the Gunners, but it’s a game they really have to win if they want to challenge for the top four. Swansea will be delighted if they can take anything from the game, but if they’re beaten narrowly they won’t be too disheartened either. I think this one should be a decent one, and it’s one I’m looking forward to.
I won’t be able to get the team news up here as I won’t be home from work by the time it’s announced, but you’ll get that on Twitter. Enjoy the game.