Arsenal host Swansea this Saturday following the international break, with the Swans managing one draw and four losses in their last five games. Swansea have only scored five goals and conceded 10 in the last five games, thus they’re not exactly in the best form. This is a side, however, that has managed to pick points from the Gunners in the past and have not lost in the last three meetings, so here are the key battles to look for in the upcoming match…
Sanchez vs van der Hoort and Amat
Alexis Sanchez has been in blistering form. The winger-turned-striker (remind you of anyone?) has found his feet, scoring four in his last five and is coming up against a defence that has conceded 10 in the same period of time. Dropping deep, playing on the shoulder or looking to cut in from wide, Sanchez will be looking to turn and twist the CB pairing who haven’t looked very good. Amat and van der Hoort have in fact given away two penalties in their last couple of games and have looked very uncomfortable against pace, something Sanchez has an abundance of. The two centrebacks could be in for a long night with Sanchez’s movement and pace.
Sigurdsson vs Mustafi and Koscielny
Sigurdsson has scored one and assisted another over the course of the last four matches and remains the main creative source for the Swans. Mustafi and Koscielny will not only need to be tight to their man during the course of open play, but will also have to be wary of fouling Sigurdsson, as he is a superb freekick taker. Kosielny and Mustafi, however, have looked superb so far. They defend on the front-foot but also have the pace to cover runs in behind. Having lost two and drawn one against Swansea in the last three games, the defence will need to keep its momentum and remain stable and solid as they have done so far.
Walcott and Iwobi vs Rangel and Naughton
The creative pace that the Gunners possess in attack has been very difficult for opposing defences to deal with this season, as both Walcott and Iwobi can mix up the attack by staying wide or cutting inside with speed and confidence. Rangel and Naughton will often be bombarded by the overlapping runs of Bellerint and Monreal on either side, so the full-backs will need to close down early and mark their men persistently in order to close the space created by these runs. A free-flowing front three will continue to constantly vary the challenges posed to the Swansea defence. Rangel and Naughton will be in for a long, difficult 90 minutes.
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