Swansea City v Arsenal – January 30, 2018 – Bet365 Stadium – 20:00 hrs – Premier League preview
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Swansea City should consider themselves unlucky to be still at the bottom of the Premier League table. Since the time their new coach, Carlos Carvalhal, took over from a beleaguered John Clement on December 28, the Swans have lost in just one of their last six games under the Portuguese.
Swansea played with width in their memorial win against Liverpool on Monday night at the Liberty Stadium. The 5-4-1 formation adopted by Carvalhal consisted of a packed defense and midfield that didn't allow much leeway to the Liverpool forwards. The defensive trio of Mawson, Federico Fernandez and Mike van der Hoorn were outstanding. As was Lukasz Fabianski, who was exceptional between the posts.
The wide game that the Swans have adopted of late has seen the speedy winger Nathan Dyer blossom. The feeding from the right wing to striker Andre Ayew has been effective under Carvalhal's tutelage. He could seriously trouble the inconsistent Arsenal defense when the Gunners come visiting on the 30th.
Arsene Wenger's boys showed that they could win vital games. Even without their star striker Alexis Sanchez, off on a record signing to Manchester United.
The Gunners booked an entry into the EFL Cup final by beating Chelsea 2-1 at the Emirates. Wenger’s strategic move of sending mid-fielder Mohamed Elneny to man the defense paid off. Chelsea were able to land just two shots on goal. Nacho Monreal at the back played a vital role and showed attacking skills, too. This was evident from the goal he scored in that game.
Arsenal also handed a rejuvenated Crystal Palace one of their worst defeats of the 2017-18 Premier League season. It wasn't the usual suspects for Arsenal who scored. Barring Alexandre Lacazette, unlikely folks from the defense like Monreal and Laurent Koscielny chipped in with goals.
The breaking news at the Emirates is that Pierre Emerick Aubameyang switches places in an exchange deal. It will see striker Alexis Giroud head towards Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang, who was one of Bundesliga's top scorers in the 2016-17 is expected to fill in the large shoes of Alexis Sanchez. The Dortmund striker will bring in the much-needed creativity upfront and goal-scoring opportunities Sanchez was known for and should make a perfect foil to Ozil and Lacazette when the Gunners go on the attack. What better opportunity for the 28-year old Frenchman to get off to a good start than a contest with a lesser opponent like the Swans.
Swansea have beaten Arsenal twice in the six times they have met each other since 2015, but have been beaten in all their three previous outings with the Gunners. Under Carlos Carvalhal, the hosts will look to reverse that trend and they do have an outside chance to do that.
Meanwhile, Arsenal fans will be keenly waiting for the £53 million new-signing, Aubameyang, to start off at the Liberty stadium next week.
Buoyed by their EFL Cup semi-final win, the visitors look the favorites to wrap up Tuesday's game (even without their star signing) with a possible score-line reading 2-1 or 3-1 in their favor.
Arsenal, though, will find themselves positioned in the 6th spot they presently are in, irrespective of the result at the Liberty stadium, but nevertheless they will take in three points with open arms any day.