Swansea City v Arsenal – Match Preview

Arsenal will be hoping they can maintain their challenge for a top four place when they travel to face Swansea who have lost only once at the Liberty Stadium this season.

Champions Manchester United are the only team to leave South Wales with three points this season as the Swans have made the Liberty a fortress. Four wins and five draws on their own turf have contributed to a superb start to life in the Premier League and they now sit 12th in the table seven points above the relegation zone. A majority of the credit must go to Brendan Rodgers who has kept true to his beliefs that his team should pass the ball and remain patient when in possession. Their slick ball retention policy has proved a winner at home where they’ve conceded just four goals in 10 games. Summer signings Danny Graham and Michael Vorm have also proved their worth throughout the first half of the campaign with the latter keeping nine clean sheets. Established stars like Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen have also played their part and Rodgers will expect the entire squad to pull together as they aim to prolong their top-flight existence past this season. Beating Arsenal would put them on course to do just that.

The Gunners have lofty ambitions of their own as they chase London rivals Chelsea who currently occupy the fourth and final Champions League position. They didn’t exactly start 2012 the way they would have expected though with a late defeat at Fulham seeing them miss the chance to leapfrog the Blues. However two defeats in their last 13 has seen Arsene Wenger’s side turn their early season slump on it’s head as they now sit just a point outside the top four. Thierry Henry’s return on a two-month loan deal from New York Red Bulls has visibly lifted the club during the week and he will prove useful filling in for Gervinho who is at the African Cup of Nations. The Frenchman had an instant impact on Monday scoring the winner against Leeds in the FA Cup on his second debut. Defending still remains an area of concern for Wenger especially away from the Emirates Stadium with his back four leaking 22 goals in 10 games on the road. That will have to improved against a Swansea side who play the type of football Arsenal became renowned for during Henry’s first spell in North London.

Swansea City 12th : 23 points 

Last six: W D D L D W

Team news: There are no new injury worries for Swansea with both Alan Tate and Ferre Bodde out for the long-term

Key Player: Danny Graham

Swansea’s record signing has enjoyed a superb season providing a regular source of goals and making the step from the Championship look easy. Graham is a predator in the penalty area and he’ll be expected to covert any chances in and around the six-yard box against Arsenal.

Arsenal 5th : 36 points

Last six: L W D W L W

Team news: Arsenal have nine first team players on the sidelines but could have Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby back for the visit to Wales.

Key Player: Robin Van Persie

After an outstanding 2011 the Dutchman will be hoping he can mimic his form in the New Year as he continues to lead the Arsenal attack. Van Persie’s form this season has been remarkable and he’ll be hoping to score his first goal of 2012 against Swansea.

PREDICTION

Swansea have a phenomenal home record with only Manchester United winning at the Liberty Stadium this season and will be confident of keeping Arsenal at bay on Sunday.

Score: 1-1