WTTGT Writer: Matt Mace
SWANSEA 3-2 ARSENAL
Arsenal failed to close the gap on fourth place as they succumbed to their seventh league defeat of the season losing to Swansea in a thrilling clash at the Liberty Stadium which saw the Gunners’ defensive frailties exposed by a very good performance from the Welsh side.
The team news for Arsenal saw Captain Robin Van Persie return to the starting line-up, while an injury to Mikel Arteta saw Yossi Benayoun take his place alongside Alex Song. Johan Djourou and Ignasi Miquel occupied the full-back positions.
It took the visitors just four minutes to open the scoring as Andrei Arshavin fed Van Persie who delayed his shot but eventually found the net with his right foot to give his side a dream start.
Swansea reacted well to going a goal down and were awarded a penalty ten minutes later when Aaron Ramsey tripped Nathan Dyer in the penalty area and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Scott Sinclair stepped up and equalised for the Swans despite Szczesny diving in the correct direction with a cool finish.
Arsenal almost retook the lead moments later when Van Persie’s effort found its way to Ramsey who rounded Michel Vorm but his shot was cleared off the line.
After a positive start from the visitors it was the hosts who looked more like getting the next goal. But it was the Gunners who almost got it when Benayoun won the ball in midfield, found Van Persie in acres of space but this time the Dutchman’s shot was saved by Vorm. Dyer then stung the hands of Wojciech Szczesny, as an entertaining first 45 ended all square.
Theo Walcott had the first chance of the second half racing onto a van Persie pass but fired over from a good position. Arshavin also blazed over after being picked out by Ramsey. Dyer then curled Swansea’s first chance of the second period well wide.
Joe Allen went close with a shot from outside the area, but minutes later the hosts took the lead as Ramsey lost possession in midfield to Allen and he found Dyer who finished expertly, lifting the home fans with the goal. The hosts continued to apply the pressure with Arsenal looking all over the place.
In a bid to change the team’s fortunes Arsene Wenger brought on Thierry Henry and Tomas Rosicky in place of Arshavin and Benayoun. The substation made a difference as Walcott equalised when he latched onto Djourou long pass to chip over Vorm, but straight after the restart Swansea regained the lead as Danny Graham beat the offside trap to slot past Szczesny.
Per Mertesacker failed to hit the target from close range after van Persie’s corner had dropped right to the Germans feet but he couldn’t take advantage. In the last throw of the dice for Arsenal, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced the German defender.
A last ditch tackle from Djourou denied the Swans a fourth before Ramsey went close with a header and Rosicky volleyed over Chamberlain’s cross as the visitors searched for another equaliser, then Laurent Koscielny was thwarted by Vorm.
The final whistle was met by a huge roar by the home fans as they claimed their biggest scalp of the season, as Arsenal quest for top four finish suffered another blow.
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