Arsenal-Swansea City Preview
Following a three-week run of dominance over all competitions, Arsenal hope a growing injury list won't derail their current Premier League surge.
Fresh off a League Cup exit and uncertain what exactly their lineup will look like, the top-flight co-leaders seek a fifth consecutive league victory Saturday against Swansea City at Liberty Stadium.
Things could not have gone better for Arsenal (7-1-2) during a four-game stretch starting Oct. 4 when it rolled to a 3-0 win over Manchester United. They followed with another 3-0 victory at Watford, an impressive 2-0 Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich that revived their knockout round hopes and last Saturday's 2-1 win at Everton.
However, the fun ended Tuesday when the Gunners were upset 3-0 by Sheffield Wednesday in League Cup play. Theo Walcott (calf) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) were both injured in that contest, adding to a M.A.S.H. unit that includes Danny Welbeck (knee), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Mikel Arteta (ankle) and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring).
Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain will both miss this contest, Wednesday's crucial rematch at Bayern and next weekend's North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur.
'"We hope they are light injuries, but they are out until after the international break,'' said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose side trails Manchester City on goal differential and has scored eight goals in their last two top-division road contests.
Wenger will have Olivier Giroud to lean on after he scored in his last second straight league match last weekend. The French star served as a substitute the previous six league games before returning to the lineup against the Toffees.
''He recently made the difference coming on, (last weekend) he made it by starting," Wenger said. "I have interesting options. I just have to be wise enough to use him at the right moment.''
Giroud has one goal in five matches against Swansea City (3-4-3), which took both meetings from the Gunners in 2014-15. Though Arsenal have gone winless in three straight against the Swans, Swansea coach Garry Monk knows his side must be in top form once again.
"We've had some good games against them in recent years and had two good results against them last season," Monk told the Club's official website.
"We know that when we are at our best we can give anyone a game in this league and we'll need to be at that level on Saturday. If we do that we are in with a chance of getting the result we want."
Bafetimbi Gomis scored two of the Swans three goals against Arsenal last season but has none in six straight Premier League matches after recording one in each of the first four. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Andre Ayew each scored last Saturday as the Swans ended an 0-2-3 stretch with a 2-1 win at lowly Aston Villa.
"There are no easy games in the Premier League," Monk added. "Of course you want to play at your best, but when you don't it's still important to pick up points. Each team will have a period where they will suffer and its about how you deal with that.
"Our effort and commitment is always there and its about continuing to do the right things and working hard on the training ground."