Swansea vs. Arsenal match preview

I have no explanation for this.

Liberty Stadium, Swansea, which is in like Wales or something
Sunday 15 January, 2012 11am ET
TV: Fox Soccer
SWA (13th) LDDWW | ARS (5th): WDWLW
SB Nation's Swansea blog: there isn't one

As two of their closest rivals for Champions League qualification dropped points at home today, Arsenal look to capitalize against a tough-to-beat Swansea side in Wales. A win would take Arsenal four points clear of Liverpool (who drew 0-0 at home to Stoke City) to make 5th a bit safer; it would also move them back within a point of Chelsea for 4th (they beat Sunderland [who can't finish to save their lives] 1-0 at home) and within seven of 3rd place Tottenham Hotspur (who drew Emmanuel Frimpong and Wolverhampton 1-1 at home).

The last time Arsenal were in this position, they answered with a lackluster loss at Fulham, though at least a bit of that could be explained by fatigue. That's not an excuse this week - it's been almost a week since Arsenal had a game of any kind, and several regulars (most notably Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott) were rested. With other squad selection still up in the air, this still is a match Arsenal need three points from, no matter what.

Swansea were a tough out when they came to the Emirates earlier this season, with Arsenal taking the points only after the usually-awesome Michel Vorm rolled a ball off his own fullback's foot and to Andrei Arshavin, who put it in for the match's only goal. Granted that match was the first one after the Old Trafford Debacle, and it was only a week and a half after the transfer deadline deals that re-made this team; still, if we're to rely on another Vorm mistake to win, three points are unlikely. This isn't to say I think Arsenal can't beat Swansea, only that the attack needs to be better than it was in the opposite fixture and, frankly, since the 0-4 victory at Wigan in December.

This is especially crucial due to Swansea's tremendous home form. They've lost only one time at Liberty Stadium this season in all competitions (0-1 to Manchester United) and have allowed only four goals at home in the league all season. This is partially because of the play of Vorm, but Swansea defend well all around (as we saw at the Emirates) and are tough to break down. This is okay, though, because we've been really good at that lately.

Wait, what? Oh.

On the positive side, Thierry Henry! This week Arsene Wenger said he has the quality to play on the wing (which I had assumed was already a thing) and that he and van Persie can play together in attack. This leads me to think there's at least an outside chance he could start. That's probably not going to happen, but I could definitely see him seeing some significant second-half time. He also said some stuff about Arshavin so...yeah, he's probably going to play too. Prepare yourselves emotionally for that. If I were a betting man (I'm not, due to my poorness) I'd bet Arshavin starts and Henry comes on at the 55th or 60th minute.

In other team news, evidently Tomas Rosicky and Per Mertesacker are both ill, evidently, and their availability is questionable. That's not awesome news because Rosicky is pretty good, and Mertesacker's replacement is Sebastien Squillaci. On the positive side, Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny weren't total crap together against Leeds. On the negative side, Swansea are better than Leeds. So prepare yourselves emotionally for that, too.

Lineup:

Szczesny
Djourou - Koscielny - Squillaci - Miquel
Song - Arteta
Ramsey
Walcott - van Persie - Arshavin

Prediction:

I played a really good game against them in FIFA 12, okay? So I'm pretty sure we're going to win this game 4-1.

Ah crap, no we're not. I'm going with Swansea 1-2 Arsenal because there's not much of a chance of Arsenal scoring four against this defense. Or more than two; honestly one is most likely, but I'm hoping for two. On the other hand, van Persie and Henry might both have hat tricks, AND THEN WHO'D BE LAUGHING?! All of us, probably.

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