In their first game under new manager Paul Clement, Swansea City fell 0-4 to Arsenal, who had a foot on their opponents’ necks for most of the match but finished the Welsh side off with a flurry of goals in the middle of the second half.
It was a must-win match against a team Arsenal have struggled against in recent years, but the Gunners took advantage of the turmoil at the Liberty Stadium to take home three points.
Arsenal started the scoring late in the first half, with Mesut Ozil assisting the in-form Olivier Giroud in the 37th minute. Swansea were hanging in there with the visitors in the first half, but three goals in 19 minutes in the second half for Arsenal was too much for the Swans.
Own goals by Jack Cork and Kyle Naughton were what started the run of scoring, and it was finished by Alexis Sanchez in the 73rd minute.
It was an easy match for Arsenal supporters to watch once the second half got going, which has been an unfamiliar feeling in recent weeks. Here are the three stars from that stellar showing in Wales on Saturday.
Third Star: Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez was doing what he does best against Swansea; he pestered their back line all match long, he created chances and got shots off, and he scored with a tidy finish to put the icing on the cake for the Arsenal win.
Although he reacted rather poorly to being subbed off after his goal, it was refreshing to see an Arsenal player have that desire to play and to win after the club had to come back from 3-0 down against Bournemouth to draw the Premier League minnows on January 3rd.
The player will disagree, but it was a smart move by Arsene Wenger to give Sanchez the last 12 minutes of the match to rest because the club has three matches in just eight days.
Meaning that Wenger wants his star man to be fresh for that tight run of fixtures. It’s wonderful to see the Chilean playing so well, and when he does well, it usually means the team excels.
Second Star: Olivier Giroud
The Frenchman continued his run of fine form by scoring yet another goal, and he has proven yet again why he should be starting for the Gunners.
His strength and size gave the Swansea back four a hard presence to deal with physically, and Giroud’s activity when his teammates had the ball made it tough for the opponents to track him.
He broke the deadlock after the ball was stuck in midfield for most of the match up to that point, and he also put the finishing touch on Ozil’s first assist in the Premier League this year.
He was what sparked Arsenal to get into the next gear and finish the match early, and for that, both his teammates and fans will thank him.
First Star: Alex Iwobi
The young Nigerian proved to be the major thorn in Swansea’s side today by making their defence look stupid in the second half.
He created space in his opponents’ defence for the entire time, and two of the crosses he played in ended up in the back of the net as a result of deflections off Swans players.
When he is given ample time on the ball and space to operate, Iwobi is a joy to watch because of his skill, strength, and athleticism, and Arsenal gave him plenty of opportunities to take Swansea defenders one-on-one during Saturday’s match.
Every week he becomes a more integral part of the Gunners’ attack, and he proved himself to be the main man in Wales.
The Lukasz Fabianski Derby ended up with the result that most would’ve expected coming into the match, but Arsenal supporters were wary of the fact that their team seems to constantly fall short of expectations.
Now the Gunners have risen to third place in the Premier League table, and with Chelsea’s Diego Costa likely to miss a few matches due to a row with his manager, it may be time for the Gunners to build some momentum to challenge for the top spot in the league.
There are a ton of positives the team will take from their performance away to Swansea, and if they can play better team football, then the sky is the limit for the rest of the season.