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Arsenal 3-2 Swansea City: Too close for comfort

The Gunners held on to all 3 points with 10 men.

Arsenal v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal held on with 10 men to win 3-2 at The Emirates against Swansea City, denying Bob Bradley any points on his Premier League managerial debut.

Arsenal remained unchanged from their previous match at Burnley, with Francis Coquelin and Lucas Perez back on the bench for the Gunners.

Arsenal were dominant early, controlling possession but not creating too many good chances. Like the Burnley match, the final ball was slightly off from the Gunners. Unlike the Burnley match, Arsenal were given a gift in the 26th minute. After Hector Bellerin headed a lofted ball into the danger area, Jordi Amat did not realize that Theo Walcott was right behind him in front of goal. Theo picked Amat’s pocket and slipped it in by former Gunner Lukasz Fabianski.

Theo doubled his tally 7 minutes later as Santi Cazorla’s corner fell right to him. The winger was able to control the ball, turn, and fire home. It was all too easy.

It looked as if Arsenal would run away with things, but a Granit Xhaka error let the Swans back in the match. Trying to play the ball out from the back, Xhaka miscontrolled the ball, Gylfi Sigurdsson claimed it, and curled a left-footed shot past Petr Cech. The ball was well hit, but Cech might have done better if his boots hadn’t been set in concrete.

Swansea City looked better after the goal, and carried that form over into the second half. The Gunners, however, reasserted their 2 goal lead when Alexis Sanchez found the birthday boy, Mesut Ozil, for a beautiful goal. Alexis lofted a cross into the box to find the run of Ozil who hammered a volley past Fabianski into the roof of the net.

The Gunners continued to be the far more dangerous of the two sides, but the dangerous Modou Barrow skinned Nacho Monreal and fired in a cross that Borja Baston hit past Cech to make it 3-2 in the 66th minute.

Francis Coquelin came on for Alex Iwobi in the 68th minute to help hold onto the lead, but unfortunately, it was about to get more complicated.

In the 70th minute, Xhaka clipped Barrow’s heel then got more of the attacker’s leg with the next swing of his boot on a Swansea City breakaway. Referee Jon Moss must have deemed the kick violent conduct, as Xhaka was shown a straight red card instead of the normal yellow for a cynical, counterattack-breaking foul. It was an odd day for the Swiss international who, other than his mistake directly leading to a goal and a straight red card, had probably his best performance for Arsenal yet. Highs and lows.

Swansea City piled on the pressure after that moment, and had a couple of good chances. Most notably, Sigurdsson had another chance to double his tally but fired over the crossbar and Leroy Fer headed straight to Cech on another occasion.

The Gunners still managed to create multiple dangerous moments with 10 men. Theo should have upped his tally to three late but his shot went off the post and out for a goal kick.

Theo Walcott, again, should have had a hat trick thirty seconds before the final whistle blew, but fired his shot over. It was great work from substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to shrug off Fer and burst into the box. His cross to Theo was perfect, but Theo couldn’t keep his shot down.

All in all, it was a fairly impressive performance by the Gunners with 11 men, and solid resilience playing a man down.

With Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur drawing on the day, Arsenal are level on points for 1st in the Premier League table, behind City by 1 goal in goal difference.