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March 16, 2013
• Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Referee: J. Moss
• Attendance: 20583
Nacho Monreal 74'
Y. Gervinho 90'+
Shots on Target
That's all from me Rhys Turrell, head over to Goal.com's main site for all the reaction to today's Premier League action. Until next time, goodbye!
In any case, a good game of football, and both manager's will be reasonably happy with how their side's got on.
Michael Laudrup will happy with how his side got on in a tie which has little real significance for them. They showed real ability at times, but lacked that pure top-quality needed to break Arsenal down.
It's a second-consecutive 2-0 win for Arsenal, and this was a fine win against a very good Swansea side. For visitors were second best for parts of this contest, but they stayed in the game, and took their chance when it came. It's a huge three points as they look to close the gap to the top-four, and if they take momentum from their showing this week, they may well yet salvage their season.
90' + 2'
Arsenal have seen out the final moments with wonderful composure, and gone closer to a second than the hosts have a consolation.
90' + 1'
Assist Aaron Ramsey
90' + 1'
GOAL! It's all over now! Great counterattacking from Arsenal as Giroud picks up the ball on the halfway line and plays the ball wide to Ramsey on the right, he squares across the edge of the penalty area for the unmarked Gervinho who taps home past a helpless Vorm. A vital three-points for Arsenal.
There will be three minutes of added time.
Santi Cazorla profits from that pressing, and as he shoots he must think he's bagging all-three points for his side, but his effort is deflected wide of the goal for a corner.
What Arsenal are also doing very well now is to press Swansea high up the pitch, now allowing their hosts to build-up play from the back.
Now it is Swansea turn to be frustrated by their opponents excellent defensive shape. Pablo does well in a central position and tries to find Michu, but they can't find anyway through the narrow and tight Arsenal backline.
Five minutes to go now. You would expect Arsenal to hold on from here, and they've looked very dangerous on the counter in the last couple of moments.
Yellow Card Mikel Arteta
Charlie Scott reports: "Swansea think they have scored! Half the Liberty Stadium are celebrating as Jonathan de Guzman's free kick from the left flies into the side netting. Unsurprisingly their mistaken glee is met with jeers and laughter from the Arsenal fans in the ground."
De Guzman takes the free kick, but instead of trying to find a team-mate he aims for the near post - and misses. What a waste.
Chance now for Swansea from a free kick in a dangerous area. They built-up play well with plenty of verve and pace, and the only thing Jenkinson could do there was to bring down Pablo. Big chance.
We're 10 minutes away from full-time, and what a big win this would be for Arsenal. They haven't played great, but they could well claim all three-points. And with Swansea opening up a little, this game could end 0-2.
It's all Arsenal now! Swansea win a corner which is punched clear by Fabianski and met by Walcott who sprints the entire length of the pitch before blasting a shot towards goal which is well blocked by a defender. The move eventually breaks down as the home side get bodies back.
Believe it or not, Gervinho is doing quite well here. He holds the ball well on the edge of the area before cutting inside onto his right foot and shooting at goal. His effort was comfortably saved by Vorm, however.
Assist Olivier Giroud
GOAL! Well, that was a crappy one, but they all count! Nacho Monreal has his first goal for the club. Santi Cazorla picked the ball up outside the area and drove forward well into the box before passing square. The ball fell to Williams but under pressure from Giroud his clearance only reached the edge of the area where Monreal found it and belted low towards goal where it squirmed under Michel Vorm.
Gervinho's first touch sees him run past an out-of-position Ashley Williams and dart into the penalty area, but his pull-back is weak, and easily cleared by the Swans. A good start for the Ivorian, though.
Universal boos for ex-Cardiff man Aaron Ramsey as he replaces Diaby, while Oxlade-Chamberlain comes off for Gervinho.
Once again Swansea's ability to defend sees an Arsenal attack come to nothing. The Gunners have to move the ball sideways such is the strength of their defensive shape, and eventually Santi Cazorla is robbed of the ball by a hungry Angel Rangel. Excellent play.
Charlie Scott reports: "With 65 minutes gone Michael Laudrup decides it is time for a change as he injects some more pace into his side by bringing on the nippy Wayne Routledge for Ki Sung-Yueng. The winger is greeted by chants of "Super, super Wayne!!" by the Swansea faithful. Not sure I agree with that adjective but there you go."
Theo Walcott has been very quiet this afternoon. Olivier Giroud has been given a run through the middle, and perhaps Theo is sulking, but either way he has not been that involved in much of the action so far.
Swansea are well settled into their rhythm here, and a goal for Arsenal does not look likely. Wenger may well need to make a change here to spice up his team, and spark them into life.
Carl Jenkinson is receiving some treatment for a blow to his leg. He's been very impressive today, and Arsene Wenger will be hoping that is not a serious problem.
We've played an hour, and it's still goalless. The more this wears on, the more you see that just one goal will win this game. Can Swansea make it a league double over Arsenal? At the moment they look the more likely to score.
Pablo, who has been very lively down the left today, has an effort himself with his right peg, but it is wide of the far post. He jinked in from the flank and past a few defenders, but was unable to keep his shot under control. Fine player though, he's had a good game.
Charlie Scott reports: "Arsenal are growing in confidence at the Liberty Stadium, with Santi Cazorla the latest player to come close to making it 1-0. The former Villarreal attacker held off a challenge from Ashley Williams and forced Michael Vorm into a smart stop low to his right after being set up by a nifty touch from Olivier Giroud."
Swansea create a chance now, but Michu blasts high over the bar. Pablo picked up the ball on the left and played a ball square across the pitch which was met by his fellow Spaniard on the edge of the area in a central area, but his shot was well over the bar. Poor effort.
Abou Diaby. The most frustrating player in the Premier League? He does well again in an advanced area, but his insistence on dribbling and not passing see's him forced wide of the area before he overruns the ball and it goes behind for a goal kick. Very annoying for his team-mates, he should have used the ball much better.
Swansea have taken the initiative in this tie in the past couple of moments, with the likes of Ki, Michu and Pablo all linking up well to probe the Arsenal defence. They haven't found a way through yet, though.
Charlie Scott reports: "That is pure nonchalance from Swansea's defence! The back four and their goalkeeper have just casually moved the ball about between themselves as Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain snapped at their heels. Even the usually mundane Garry Monk was involved with a cheeky lob over Olivier Giroud to eventually clear the ball."
It's well worth noting once again how good Leon Britton is for the Swans too. In his deep-midfield role he has just turned defence in attack for the home side with his close control and ability in a tight position freeing Michu on the counter. Good play.
Ki has been very impressive for Swansea today. A real powerful presence in the centre of midfield, he has a wonderful ability to spread the ball across the park quickly. A wise investment when he joined from Celtic last summer.
Jenkinson is winning the latest battle in his war with Ben Davies this afternoon. He's won a fair few corners for his side today, and he's just won another.
Abou Diaby must have read my stinging criticism before half time. He's come out and dribbled past at least five defenders, but as he's advanced on goal he's let fly, and his shot is well high over Vorm's crossbar. It was a wild swing in the end. So much promise with this player, but not fulfilled...
Arsenal get this second-half underway.
The two teams are out, and kick-off is imminent.
I have to agree with Charlie there. Arsenal have looked OK, and in Oxlade-Chamberlain, they have a player who could win this game for them - he has been brilliant. The hosts have had several openings, but not so much a clear-cut chance, and they'll need to be more clinical in the second if they are to claim all-three points here.
Charlie Scott reports: "The whistle goes for half-time in Swansea and Arsenal's game at the Liberty Stadium with the score at 0-0, but both sides have had opportunities to score. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must be pretty distraught after seeing two fine efforts crash against the woodwork for Arsenal, while Michu wasted a decent chance for Swansea when he shot wide after spinning past the statue-esque Per Mertesacker."
45' + 1'
Swansea whip in a corner, but it is easily cleared, and the referee calls for half-time.
Ah Abou Diaby! The rangy Frenchman has been quiet throughout, but here he picks up the ball around 30 yards from goal and drives forward, but lacks the ability to find a final clinical pass, and the move breaks down. Very frustrating because Arsenal had options there.
Swansea win a free kick out wide on the right, but the delivery in from Pablo is weak, and easily cleared by the visitors.
Charlie Scott reports: "Open up the top drawer and pick that one out. Oxlade-Chamberlain has hit the bar AGAIN for the Gunners, this time with a swerving strike from 30 yards. Swansea allowed him to move forward with the ball and he wasted no time in smashing a shot at goal with the outside of his right boot. Fortunately for Michael Vorm it cannoned off the crossbar and away to safety."
Oxlade-Chamberlain hits the bar - again! Santi Cazorla drives across the pitch around 25 yards from goal before running into his team-mate, who takes the ball from him and belts a shot at goal which bounces off the top of the bar. Very close from the England midfielder.
Despite my pre-match predictions of several goals, I can only really see one-goal in this contest. It is a tight, cagey affair with neither side creating many clear-cut chances. You feel the side that score first may just hold on to win.
Arsenal are enjoying their strongest spell of the game just at the moment, with first Monreal crossing into the area, and then Oxlade-Chamberlain driving forward towards goal and being denied by a horde of defenders. Swansea's shape at the back has been excellent. They are not only brilliant with the ball, but they're also wonderful without it!
The Swans try to catch Arsenal on the counter-attack following the corner, but Nathan Dyer's one-man crusade comes to nothing as he is met by a wall of Gunners defenders.
Walcott shows a bit of strength now to hold off the brick wall-looking Ashley Williams on the edge of the area to get a shot off. His effort is blocked, though, and goes behind for a corner.
Swansea almost go ahead through Michu! Ki once again picks up the ball centrally and drives towards goal, and finds the run of the Spanish striker who powers a shot towards Fabianski's near post, which the Pole does well to turn behind for a corner. Except the linesman raises his flag for offside. Nice play though, and a much more dangerous chance than Arsenal have mustered all half.
Oxlade Chamberlain and Monreal are linking up well down the left, but as yet their trickery and skill has lacked an end product. A moment or so ago the pair shared some flicks and touches which looked very pretty, but the ball ran dead when Giroud was screaming for a cross into the area.
Arsenal are starting to see a lot of the ball now, but are finding Swansea very resolute and hard to break down. Arteta is doing well, but seems to be a little too deep to affect the action directly.
Charlie Scott reports: "Why Theo Walcott is ever allowed to take set pieces for Arsenal when Santi Cazorla is on the pitch I do not know. The Spaniard won a free kick after drawing a foul from Jonathan de Guzman 25 yards from goal, only for Walcott to muscle in and take it. The England international's attempt was poor and failed to beat the Swansea wall."
Yellow Card Jonathan De Guzmán
Danger from an Arsenal free-kick around 25-yards from goal. Walcott confidently strides up to it, but tamely strikes into the wall.
Panic at the back for Swansea. Arsenal build-up play excellently with Jenkinson finding Walcott in the right channel before the England man pulls a cross into the area. It evades almost everyone but the Swans fail to deal with it and Abou Diaby pokes the ball towards the target before Giroud attempts a shot which is smothered by Vorm.
Swansea's left-back Ben Davies is having an exciting duel with Carl Jenkinson this afternoon. The half-Finn, half-English right-back is getting to much help from his winger, but nonetheless is just about holding his own so far.
Santi Cazorla has a chance for Arsenal. He jinks in and out just outside the area and finds a bit of space before unleashing a shot at goal which Michel Vorm does well to keep out.
Charlie Scott reports: " Swansea are out-Arsenaling Arsenal at the moment. Michael Laudrup's side have just put together a mammoth passing move that ended with Angel Rangel bursting through on the right and dinking a shot just wide of Lukas Fabianski's goal after latching on to a neat through ball from Sung-Yueng Ki. Despite both teams having chances it remains 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium."
The home side are well on top here, and once again they go close. Michu this time finds space in the box and receives the ball but is unable to finish under pressure from Fabianski and two defenders.
That really was a perfect demonstration of how to play wonderful passing football. Swansea were patient and advanced up the field with the ball before finding the right pass and penetrating Arsenal's defence. If the pass had been through to Michu, they may have scored.
Swansea go close. After superb build-up play, which must have lasted a few minutes, a ball from Ki is slid through to Angel Rangel and the right-back beats the offside trap, but his shot is tame and wide of goal from a fairly central position.
That said Swansea are of course well famed for their excellent possession football, and they certainly have the ability to mix it with the best on their own patch.
Arsenal are just getting a little more control into this game now, with Arteta beginning to dictate play from his deep-lying position.
Charlie Scott reports: "The Ox hits the crossbar for Arsenal! The former Southampton man cuts in from the left before curling a delicious shot against the woodwork from 15 yards. Swansea had looked dangerous before that fine effort from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain."
We are only in the early stages, but it is end-to-end stuff at the Liberty. Swansea are very fluid on the counter-attack so far, and Pablo Hernandez has looked a real threat down the left, as has Nathan Dyer down the right.
Good start here, and Arsenal go close with a shot that hits the crossbar. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain finds space on the edge of the penalty area and cuts in and past the defender before placing his shot high across the goal which hits the bar and bounces clear. Good play.
Nathan Dyer has the first real chance of the contest. The wideman picks up the ball in an inside position near the edge of the area and under minimal pressure places a shot well above the crossbar. Poor effort, he had time and space to do better.
Arsenal win the ball well, however, and Carl Jenkinson does well down the right to win a corner. The first of the game. It is swung in and is met by Giroud, but it is a difficult effort and he puts it high and wide with a shot on the turn.
The home side kick-off and start brightly by retaining the ball for the first minute, and even manage a foray inside Arsenal's half, which comes to nothing.
OK, we're ready for kick-off at the Liberty and Swansea will get us underway.
The two sides are out of the field, and the pre-match nonsense will soon be over.
Also, don't let the irony of the English team wearing Red, and the Welsh team wearing White today get in the way of you enjoying the action. Those shirt colours will of course be reversed in the huge Rugby Union Six Nations clash later this afternoon between the two countries.
Michu has three goals against Arsenal already this season, could he add to that tally today?
One thing we can almost be certain of today is that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not play the full 90 minutes. Since joining Arsenal from Southampton in the summer of 2011, the 19-year-old has only completed four-full games for the club (and two of those have been in 'dead rubber' Champions League games).
We're 20 minutes away from kick-off at the Liberty Stadium. A big game for Arsenal today - but I guess that goes without saying. With Tottenham and Chelsea not playing until tomorrow, the Gunners have a great chance to put some real pressure on the side's currently occupying the top-four places.
I'm going to opt for a scoreline of Swansea 1-2 Arsenal today. What do you think? Let me know your predictions via Twitter @rhysturrell.
So, what to make of today's game? Arsenal should be buoyed by the victory in Munich, however being just two days ago, they may come into this game a little fatigued. On the other hand no one could really excuse Swansea heading to the beach early, with a first-ever major trophy and European qualification in the bag for the Swans.
Arsene Wenger sticks with Lukas Fabianski in goal, meaning Wojciech Szczesny must once again settle for a place on the bench. Club captain Thomas Vermaelen is also a substitute. There are three changes from the side which won 2-0 at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, with Tomas Rosicky, Aaron Ramsey and Kieron Gibbs being replaced by Nacho Monreal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby.
Arsenal: Fabianski; Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Diaby; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Walcott; Giroud. Subs: Szczesny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ramsey, Gervinho.
Leon Britton returns from injury and Nathan Dyer is recalled to the starting XI for the Swans this afternoon after last week's loss at West Brom. The goalscorer in that match - Luke Moore - is dropped to the bench, as is midfielder Wayne Routledge.
Swansea: Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies; Britton, de Guzman, Ki; Dyer, Hernandez, Michu. Subs: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Bartley, Lamah, Routledge, Shechter, Moore.
The teamsheets are in, and here are the two sides, starting with the hosts.
I'm Rhys Turrell and I'll be taking you through all the action from the Liberty Stadium as the visitors look to get themselves back into Champions League qualification contention.
Good afternoon and welcome to Goal.com's coverage of this afternoon's Premier League clash between Swansea City and Arsenal.
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