Arsenal return to Premier League action tomorrow after what was a rather nerve-racking midweek Capital One Cup game vs. West Brom. The game in midweek wasn’t exactly highly exhilarating like it was expected to be, however at the end of the day it’s just the final result that matters and thankfully the Gunners managed to pull through to the next round to face Chelsea after beating the Baggies 4-3 on penalties.
Arsenal’s return to league action comes away to Swansea City at the Liberty stadium in Wales. Swansea may have only been in the Premier League for three seasons now, however they have since gone on to become one of the toughest teams in the league. Their strength at the back and prowess in attack with the likes of Michu, and more recently the addition of Wilfred Bony, means that their overall team has very much improved.
Swansea have proved on numerous occasions that they have the potential to trouble Arsenal, and have even beaten the Gunners a few times. Tomorrow won’t be an easy game despite many fans thinking we will wipe the floor with them after some of our recent performances. If we play at our best, though, we should certainly take the points.
Arsenal have no real new injury concerns to deal with that we don’t know anything about already. The likes of Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski are all a few weeks away from returning, whilst Alex Oxlade Chamberlain is still out for the long term. Of course we welcomed back Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta on Wednesday night, but with both only just building their fitness back up I’d be surprised to see either start the game at Swansea. With the majority of the squad expected to change from the side that faced West Brom, Arsenal are likely to line up as follows:
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Gnabry Wilshere Ozil
With Walcott out, he has caused a real dilemma in attack as we are already missing the Ox, Cazorla and Podolski. I think Gnabry could get another chance, but Miyaichi may also be the one to get the call. Expect Wilshere to play ahead of Ramsey in attack, simply so he and Ozil can swap positions throughout the game. In defence, again we are a bit short as Mertesacker will be playing once again. He had to endure a tough 130 mins or so on Wednesday but with Vermaelen lacking fitness, the German will probably get the call once again. We should also welcome back Giroud, and hopefully he can regain some scoring form after leaving empty handed for the last two games.
Ultimately it isn’t going to be easy, and if I’m honest this could be one of the toughest games of the season for Arsenal. We need to make sure we are on top form against the Swans and are especially organised, otherwise we will be punished. It’s going to be tight but of course I am expecting an Arsenal win to celebrate the 17th anniversary of Wenger taking over as manager!