Arsenal vs Swansea City. 11th May 2015. Emirates Stadium.
Monday night’s Premier League game sees Swansea travel to the Emirates to take on an in-form Arsenal.
A win for the Gunners would almost guarantee them a top three finish and Champions League football next season, while Swansea would retain an outside chance of catching Southampton in seventh place with three points here.
The Welsh side can complete a rare double over Arsenal following their 2-1 victory over Wenger’s men earlier in the season. Swansea came back from 1-0 down with goals from Sigurdsson and Gomis to seal a memorable victory – although the home side are a different beast these days to the vulnerable outfit that turned up in South West Wales six months ago.
The North London club have battened down the hatches at the back and developed a ruthless streak that has seen them win 11 of their last 13 Premier League games and book another Wembley appearance in the FA Cup final.
They will start here as clear favourites and their first half performance, when they dismantled Hull with a breath taking display of attacking football, last time out should serve as a warning to Garry Monk and his team.
Alexis Sanchez looks to be back to his imperious best after grabbing the headlines in recent weeks. A goal of the month belter in April against Liverpool was followed up with two well-taken goals against Hull, the Chilean midfield maestro is firing on all cylinders after a mid season lull and looks set to be the key man again.
Another Arsenal midfielder who is enjoying his football is Welshman Aaron Ramsey. The 24 year-old has scored five goals in his last nine appearances and his through ball to tee up Sanchez against Hull was a joy to behold. Ramsey, however, will be subject to a late fitness test after picking up a knock in the same game.
Gylfi Sigurdsson will need to have a big game if the Swans are to leave North London with anything and would relish, being an ex-Spurs man, to derail Arsenal’s impressive run of form. The 25 year-old midfielder registered a goal and assist in Swansea’s previous away match and looks danger once again.
An honourable mention should also go to Jefferson Montero who will be full of confidence after registering his first league goal in 27 appearances for Swansea in the 2-0 win over Stoke City.
Arsene Wenger will be sweating on the fitness of Aarson Ramsey for the visit of Swansea but they have an abundance of riches in midfield with Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, Tomas Rosicky and TheoWalcott able to fill the void. Mikel Arteta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, however, miss out through injury.
Meanwhile, Mathieu Debuchy remains a long-term absentee and Danny Welbeck is rated doubtful with Oliver Giroud almost certain to lead the front-line for the hosts.
Garry Monk will need to decide on whether striker Nelson Oliveria is fit enough to start on Monday night after limping off against Stoke last weekend, or should he gamble on the fitness of Bafetimbi Gomis, who could return after missing the last three games with injury?
Gomis’ strength and power will be a major asset in unsettling the Arsenal defence but Oliveria did catch the eye with an impressive showing against Newcastle.
Meanwhile Wayne Routledge and Kyle Naughton make up the other Swansea players missing through injury.
Everything points to a home win here. Arsenal have arguably been the most in-form team in the Premier League since the start of the year and will be eager to finish the season as runners-up to Chelsea.
The Gunners are playing with a swagger at the moment and have tightened up their defence – conceding just two goals in the last seven league matches at the Emirates – so another clean sheet looks on the cards given Swansea’s injury concerns upfront.
Swansea and Garry Monk should be given credit for their highest ever points tally in the Premier League but facing Arsenal in their own backyard is a daunting proposition at the moment.
From a betting perspective, the trends show that goals tend to appear in the second half when these two teams meet. 21 of the last 22 goals scored in this fixture have been in the second period, so the 1.83 on over 1.5 goals in the second half looks a solid bet.
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