Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Wilshere, Ramsey, Flamini, Ozil, Gnabry, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Vermaelen, Monreal, Jenkinson, Arteta, Ryo, Bendtner
Arsenal moved back to the top of the table with a 2-1 win over Swansea at the Liberty Stadium this evening. As expected, Arsene Wenger brought back big guns like Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere and Giroud, while Serge Gnabry kept his place despite playing 120 minutes in midweek.
The home side seemed to settle into the game more quickly with JonJo Shelvey having the first attempt, firing over from distance, before Arsenal saw a Kieran Gibbs cross roll across the 6 yard box.
Per Mertesacker then headed powerfully wide after an Aaron Ramsey cross as the Gunners tried to get a hold on the game. Olivier Giroud might have done better with a Mesut Ozil pass in the 12th minute but found himself robbed on the edge of the box.
Aaron Ramsey almost added to his goal tally this season when he drilled a 25 yard shot just wide of Vorm’s post while at the other end Bacary Sagna and Kieran Gibbs both had to be alert to cut out incisive Swansea passes.
There was a goalkeeping scare when the previously assured Szczesny looked to see the ball out of play. The ball did go out but Swansea poked it back in and played it across goal at which point the linesman had his flag up.
The half was mostly about possession with both defences playing well and cutting out the chances, so it was no surprise that it finished without an attempt on target. However, Arsenal had a glorious chance to go ahead in first half injury time.
Serge Gnabry went on a great run through the centre of the Swansea defence, he played it into Giroud who had a clear sight of goal but he dragged his left-footed shot wide of the far post.
It was the young German who had the first shot on target early in the second half. Arsenal worked it through midfield out to Gnabry on the right hand side, he cut back inside and took a left footed shot which was easily saved by Vorm.
It was telling then that it was the 18 year old who broke the deadlock in in the 58th minute. A good spell of Arsenal possession saw us to get to the edge of their box. Giroud had it, a Swansea foot took it away from him but played it Ramsey who clipped it first time into the path of the young German who drilled it into the bottom corner. 1-0.
Moments later the yellows doubled the lead. Szczesny played it out quickly, we stormed upfield, Wilshere won the ball with a crunching tackle and after some great interplay between him and Giroud they fed Ramsey who stepped inside and smashed home his 8th goal of the season.
Wilfried Bony saw his shot blocked by Koscielny as the Swans pressed for a goal, and Wojciech Szczesny had to be on his toes to push a powerful Nathan Dyer effort around the post. The Pole had to be smart again as Bony took advantage of a Wilshere/Gibbs mix-up to deny him space at the near post.
Mikel Arteta replaced the impressive Gnabry in the 77th minute as Arsene Wenger looked to shore up the game, but the home side got one back in the 81st minute. Davis cut in from their left hand side, he was tracked by Sagna but played it into a teammate on the edge of the box. He played it over the defence, Davis kept running and poked it past the onrushing Szczesny.
Laudrup’s men then claimed a penalty as Sagna booted the ball into Flamini’s hand but referee Clattenburg waved play on. Monreal replaced Ozil in the 88th minute as Swansea dominated possession in the final stages.
Wojciech Szczesny was confident in goal, claiming a series of crosses and corners as the pressure was on, and the Gunners hung on for 3 valuable points.