Arsenal will travel to Wales to take on Swansea City at their Liberty Stadium on Saturday. The Gunners, who are 2.20 with Unibet to win this Premier League encounter, desperately need the three points on offer here to keep pace with Tottenham and Chelsea, both of whom have home games this weekend.
Coach Arsene Wenger’s men recently got knocked out of the UEFA Champions League too, which means that it will be yet another season without a trophy for them. While they have failed on every front so far this term, they cannot afford to finish outside the top four, and therefore, need an almost flawless end to the season in order to qualify for the Champions League again.
Their task won’t be easy though as their Welsh opponents are no joke, especially when playing in their own backyard. In fact, Arsenal have won just one and lost two of the last four encounters between these two sides. The Gunners did beat them 1-0 in their latest meeting, which took place at Emirates Stadium in January, but that win too came courtesy of an 86th-minute Jack Wilshere goal.
What Is Being Said In the Press?
Swans manager Michael Laudrup has once again tried to put pressure on Arsenal players by reminding them that they cannot afford to lose this one.
He said: “They are still five points behind fourth place in the Premier League and I think they will now be going for that, and they have to believe until the very end. They will try to keep this confidence, Arsene Wenger knows after Saturday’s game there is an international break, so it is very important for them.
“Chelsea are at home this weekend, so if they win and Arsenal don’t win here, they would be eight points behind and with only nine games to go that may be too big a gap. So it is a very important game for them to keep alive the possibility of going into the Champions League next season.”
While Wenger agrees with Laudrup comments about his team, he is confident that his men can get the job done despite the tricky nature of Saturday’s game.
“I believe we have the quality to be in the top four. It’s about consistency now. The top priority is to be in the Champions League. It’s our main focus,” the Frenchman said.
“It’s a difficult place to go and we’ll need to repeat the game we had at Bayern Munich. We must win at all costs,” he said of the trip to Wales.
Arsenal Team News
Left-Back Kieran Gibbs, who played full 90 minutes in Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat of Bayern Munich, will likely be rested. January signing Nacho Monreal will take his place on the left side of the Arsenal defence.
Captain Thomas Vermaelen and first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny both missed the game against Bayern but are expected to be available for selection this weekend.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere has picked up a new ankle injury and will be out of action for the next three weeks. His place in the centre could be taken by Abou Diaby, who is nearing match fitness.
Left-forward Lukas Podolski is also nursing an ankle injury and he joins full-back Bacary Sagna (knee) in the treatment room.
Swansea City Team News
The Swans are sweating over the fitness of midfielder Leon Britton, who is struggling to shake off his hip injury which he picked up last weekend. He faces a late fitness test but Chico Flores and Kemy Agustien are definitely out of tomorrow’s game due to ankle and thigh injuries respectively.
Fit-again full-back Neil Taylor played for Swansea’s Under-21 side in on Thursday but is unlikely to be risked against the Gunners.
Probable Starting Line-Ups
Arsenal: Fabiański, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey, Walcott, Rosicky, Cazorla and Giroud.
Swansea: Vorm, Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies, Britton, Ki, Routledge, Guzman, Hernandez and Michu.
There is little doubt that Swansea have overachieved this season. Their PL status has long been secure and they have also tasted cup success, but they don’t have anything else to achieve now. They will be playing in the Europe League next season, thanks to their Capital One Cup triumph so moving up the table is not going to do them any more good except for simply glorifying their end-of-the-season position.
On the other hand, Arsenal’s most important battle, which is to finish among the top four clubs, is still being fought. They have bigger reasons to do well in this one, and that could tip the scales in their favour.
Swansea City 0-2 Arsenal