Arsenal are playing Swansea, who are second bottom of the Premier League at this moment, and everyone in the world (or at least 99 out of every 100) would be predicting 3 points for the Gunners today, but we all know that things are never so cut and dried in the Premier League.
Swansea fans will also get to see their new manager Paul Clement at a home game for the first time, and Arsene Wenger knows that this could also be a factor in the game. Le Prof said: “In the Premier League it’s difficult,”
“When you’re fighting not to go down, of course [it’s tough] but it’s as well an opportunity for [Clement] to be responsible in the Premier League. I think when you have an opportunity like that at his age, you don’t turn it down.
“The difference between coaching and managing is more about resistance to stress, to pressure and being used to being in the frontline. It’s more on the psychological front than on the technical front.
“But we have to make sure we keep our season on track. We play away from home in a Premier League game so we want to focus on being at our best. We have played many away games recently and this is another one that is very difficult.”
Wenger is right that we are finding away games difficult, in fact we have only won 1 of our last 5 in the League, but that also has to be compared with Swansea’s home record and that shows that the Swans have only won 2 of their 10 League games at the Liberty Stadium this season. They have also conceded 23 goals in that run, which is equal to the amount that Arsenal have scored in their 10 away games.
In the 5 years that Swansea have been in the top tier, Arsenal have never NOT scored at their ground, and have a total of 10 goals in that period, although Swansea actually won 2 of those games. So although most of the stats and facts point towards an Arsenal win, there must still be an element of doubt when talking about one of our bogey teams….
Okay so onto which team Wenger is likely to play today. With most of stars back except for Bellerin, I think our line-up won’t be too hard to predict. Gabriel will be pushed back out to the right. With Coquelin in the treatment room it looks like Xhaka will have Aaron Ramsey alongside him. Ozil is back so he will displace Iwobi, although after Wenger named the Nigerian international as one to watch in the game preview, it makes me think he will be returned to the wing, especially after his brilliant game against Preston.
Wenger said: “The trick about him is that you forget how old he is when you seem him play. You never imagine that he’s 20 years old.
“I believe as well, looking back where he was one-and-a-half years ago and where he is today, what is very interesting with Alex Iwobi is that he is consistently moving upwards.
“He can provide, he can get into positions between the lines, he turns very quickly and can drive the game forward. He has very fast decision-making and you always feel that he can accelerate the process whenever he gets the ball. That is a very interesting quality. He has a huge availability. He passes and moves and always wants the ball.
“He had a little dip this year that was more physical, but his passion for the game, his love for football gives me a very strong basis to continue to develop him. I think we’ll see much more from him.”
So, I think he will be back on the wing, with Alexis also staying out wide, as Giroud seems to have made himself undroppable as well! So here is my prediction…
Gabriel – Mustafi – Koscielny – Monreal
Xhaka – Ramsey
Iwobi – Ozil – Sanchez
Looking at that line-up, I’m thinking that perhaps I would prefer to see Iwobi and Ramsey swap places, but that is just a little afterthought. Does that look like a good enough team to beat Swansea?
As for the score, I think it is not going to be as easy as we think, but we will edge it 2-1 again!