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Top of the table Arsenal must prepare for tougher tests after shooting down the Swans

Swansea
1 Arsenal 2 – Gnabry And Ramsey Strike To Ensure Arsenal Serge Clear

With
earlier results going in our favour, Arsenal went clear at the top of the
Premier League table with a 2-1 win at Swansea City, making it 12 away wins on
the bounce and carried on our impressive early season form.

Our starting XI was unchanged from last weekend’s victory
against Stoke City, but it was Swansea City who settled quicker but could only
shoot from distance as Jonjo Shelvey’s early attempt failed to test Wojciech
Szczesny.

Arsenal then grew into the encounter and Kieran Gibbs
crossed from the left attractively but couldn’t find anyone in the penalty
area. Per Mertesacker then headed wide an Aaron Ramsey cross, before the
Welshman himself had a chance that he dragged wide having been teed up by
Mathieu Flamini.

Swansea looked the more likely to make something happen in
a relatively low key opening exchange as Arsenal struggled to get going at
times. There was a scary moment for Szczesny in the 26th minute as
he got caught in position inside his area, allowed the ball to roll out of play
but Michu attempted to keep the ball alive and it was then sent across goal but
the linesman had already flagged for a goal kick.

The best chance of the half came in stoppage time. Serge
Gnabry picked up the ball in the middle and drove forward penetrating the
Swansea defence, before setting up Olivier Giroud who could only fire wide
despite a great first touch.

Arsenal came out stronger after half time and had the
first shot on target in the match as Gnabry tested Michel Vorm following a
quick break. We then had a speculative penalty appeal for handball rightly
rejected and Szczesny was called upon to rush out to deprive Michu of an
opportunity, before the deadlock was broken in the 58th minute.

And what a goal it was too. There was some beautiful one
touch build up play involving Ramsey, Giroud and Jack Wilshere, before the
former slid the ball through to the path of Gnabry and the 18-year-old was
composed and confident as he took a touch and drilled it past Vorm into the
bottom corner for his first ever Premier League goal.

A minute later it should’ve been 2-0, as Ramsey charged
forward on a break and set up Mesut Ozil with a perfect chance to open his
account for the Club, but the German picked the wrong shooting option and gave
Vorm a fairly routine stop at his near post.

We didn’t regret that miss for long as in the 62nd
minute we doubled our advantage. It was like an Arsenal counter attack of old,
starting with Szczesny who enabled a quick breakaway. Ramsey played a blind yet
delicious flick in the Swansea half in the direction of Wilshere, who won a
tough 50-50 ball and drove forward before passing to Giroud inside the area.
Most strikers would’ve taken the shot on from there, but the Frenchman teed up
Ramsey, screaming for the ball, and the Welsh Wizard calmly beat one player
before smashing it into the roof of the net to silence the crowd that had been
booing him for most of the game because of his Cardiff City history.

From here Arsenal seemed to sit back and allow Swansea to
push forward, soaking up the pressure that was inflicted on us. Nathan Dyer had
a long range shot well pushed away by Szczesny, and the Polish ‘keeper was
again called to action after a Wilshere mistake allowed Wilfried Bony in on
goal at a tight angle.

Mikel Arteta came on for the excellent Gnabry, and the
Spaniard immediately won a free kick from which Mertesacker headed wide. The
home side then pulled a goal back as Ben Davies volleyed home following a nice
one-two with Bony from outside of our area to set up a nervous final few
minutes.

Swansea had a penalty appeal of their own rejected in a
similar fashion to ours, and Arsene Wenger made further changes bringing on
both Nacho Monreal and Carl Jenkinson for Ozil and Wilshere respectfully as
Arsenal shut up shop in the closing moments. Swansea maintained some late
pressure but Arsenal and Szczesny were equal to everything and the game
finished with Arsenal heading two points clear at the top of the table.

It was another very impressive display from Arsenal
against a side we have struggled with in the past. Swansea seemed to dictate
the flow of the game in the first half yet in the second period we tightened up
and were the better side, making our chances count when they became available.

Ramsey rightly took the Man of the Match plaudits after
another dominating display, grabbing an assist and another goal whilst also
controlling things in the middle of the park and putting in a good defensive
shift too alongside the ever-effective Flamini.

But it was young Gnabry who really caught the eye. He was
the man looking to make things happen on the ball in the final third but he
also tracked back to support Bacary Sagna admirably in defence, all the more
impressive after he completed 120 minutes in the Capital One Cup midweek. It’s
hard not to get excited about Gnabry’s potential and the more he plays the
better he’ll get. Let’s just hope that he can stay fit and continue to learn,
and then we might well have another gem of a player on our hands.

Elsewhere, Wilshere was particularly impressive despite a
slow start and both Giroud and Ozil played a positive part in our victory
although both will be disappointed not to have scored. Defensively we looked in
total control throughout the game, the Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny
partnership continues to go from strength to strength, and Gibbs is quietly
going about his business in an excellent fashion right now. Szczesny, despite
one shaky moment, looked very assured and was in control of everything that
Swansea had to offer in the nervy late moments.

All in all, another very positive result and the players
and management alike are right to receive the praise they’re getting currently.
It’s especially impressive given the amount of key first team players who are
currently out injured (Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas
Podolski, Tomas Rosicky and, err, Abou Diaby), so despite there being natural
concerns about whether our squad is strong enough to cope with the inevitable
injuries, they’re doing a damn good job of it at the minute.

How long that continues we’ll have to wait and see.
Fixtures come thick and fast now with the Champions League and Capital One Cup
in full flow so fatigue is likely to become more of a problem as we have fewer
options to rotate. We’ve beaten the clubs we expect to beat so far this season,
but the true test is set to come with big fixtures coming in the next 6-8 weeks
against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester
United.

Whilst it’s natural to be excited and feel good about our
position at the moment, calls for this being our year for the title are a touch
premature I think. We’ll have a much better idea of our chances once those
aforementioned fixtures have passed and see where we sit in the ladder as we
head towards the busy winter season.

But for now let’s continue to enjoy our impressive form
and excellent football as we next take to the field on Tuesday evening to face
Napoli in what will be a tough Champions League tie at the Emirates Stadium.

Matt
Littlechild


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