Swansea City Preview

So here we are then, our first game since the crushing defeat at the hands of Manchester United and a chance to get back onto that splendid animal – the three point pony.

Bigger than Arshavin

Since the Old Trafford trashing we’ve seen the make up of our side change significantly thanks to the crop of new signings and the batch of further departures – by now you all know the players who make up those two groups so I won’t attempt to cover old ground.

Today is the first chance we’ve have to see some of the new guys, and that anticipation has certainly helped to whet the appetite of Gooners and make the brain numbingly dull international break just about bearable. It’s been a very odd few weeks, almost like a mini close season, signing players but having to wait for the chance to see them play. In some ways it’s almost like the season stopped and is about to burst back in to life. Well that’s brilliant because we could certainly do with a fresh start and fresh impetus, although it’s slightly disappointing that we can’t wipe out everything that has happened in our previous three league games and start from scratch for real but this is real life and not the work of science fiction, the league table is still as depressing to look at as a bus timetable in a remote town that doesn’t have any buses – until you spot Tottenham right at the foot of the table.

Skeletor

The really great news is that Sebastian Squillaci is ruled out of the game – the Frenchman has a calf injury and whilst I have provided the clubs medical team with my thoughts on amputation as treatment, they seem unprepared to go down that route. I must admit I do feel slightly sorry for Skellaci, he really has become the target for all our ire since the departures of Clichy, Eboue, Traore, Denilson & Bendtner. The fact that old skull face can come in for such criticism when he hasn’t even set foot on a football pitch this season doesn’t seem to be a deterrent for our frustrations however.

Squillaci

Other absentees include perma-crock Abou Diaby (I’ve included a picture of the Frenchman just in case you’ve no idea who he is). It’s interesting that during the past week I’ve bemoaned Diaby’s permanently injured state of being to four Gooners on four separate occasions and in each case they’ve all said “I think he could still be a quality player for us”. I don’t necessarily disagree with that outlook, he is undoubtedly a talented footballer but when he has been able to literally stand on his own two feet it often appears to have an adverse effect on his brain and he begins to play football like a jellyfish trapped in a Pringles tube.

Print & Frame

Jack Wilshere and Tommy Vermaelen are also missing through injury and we’re unlikely to see either player return to the side until we’re all cursing the sun for setting at four in the afternoon. I’ve seen a couple of rumours that Tommy’s injury and subsequent operation are thanks to him tripping over a mop bucket whilst showing Jack around out medical facilities with which the Belgian became so familiar with himself last year, these rumours are not true and neither are those that suggest Tommy Rosicky will be missing this weekend because he is busy making sure neither Jack nor TV use his favourite treatment table, but sadly the rumours that the Czech midfielder will miss the game after suffering a knock whilst on international duty are true.

Alex Song & Gervinho see out their suspensions and Andre Santos may not be fully match fit. Other than that we have a full squad too choose from, so in Arsenal terms it’s pretty much a full squad. Incredible scenes.

And so we turn to who may make up the starting eleven for the visit of the newly promoted Welsh side…

I’m sure Arsene is sat there now alongside Pat Rice, photos of Szczesny, Fabianski, Mannone & Almunia spread out in front of them and dramatic music playing in the back ground. Don’t let any video footage of that situation fool you, it’s all for dramatic effect – Wojciech must be the first name on the team sheet these days.

Woj

In front of the Pole, and slightly to the right will be the returning Bacary Sagna from illness and what a welcome return it is. On the opposite flank Kieran Gibbs can expect to start the game as Andre Santos while included in the squad is short of match fitness. It’s still no clear which man will become the regular left back, on the one hand Wenger has often noted his reluctance to “kill” a players career whilst on the other hand you are unlikely to see the Frenchman splash millions of pounds on a Brazilian international to then just leave him sat on the bench.

Get up Gibbo, you're playing!

What is good is that Gibbs has competition for the spot, he was never going to get that from Armand Traore after Clichy joined City and whilst we’re all disappointed with Vermaelen suffering another injury it’s a blessing in disguise when you consider that the signings of Santos would have been unlikely to happen had Tommy been fit at the close of the transfer window.

Of course we would all love to see Vermaelen at the heart of our defence tomorrow but as that isn’t going to happen we’re set to see yet another centre back pairing for the third game in a row. New Arsenal ‘Wunderverteidiger’ Per Mertesacker will undoubtedly be paired with Laurent Koscielny and I think that the two could work very well alongside each other. They’re both readers of the play who like to watch and intercept the ball rather than defend by pushing people over and closing out space but I think it could be a successful combination at least in the short term. I should make it clear that while I consider Mertesacker to be more of a cultured defender than a John Terry type of player I certainly think the German has the fierceness and battling qualities required at this level, and don’t expect him to give much away to opponents less they want to receive a good kicking.

Mertz won’t be the only Arsenal debutant tomorrow as Mickey Arteta is certain to line up in midfield with Aaron Ramsey and the returning Emmanuel Frimpong against the swans. Our new Spanish heartthrob has been wowing youngsters and first teamers alike during training this week and I think he’ll provide that creative guile we’ve so obviously lacked more much of the season so far but as we know he is quite a combative player too so he’ll be offering a bit more of a defensive element to our midfield which will be a benefit to Frimmers.

Dreamboat

Mickey’s introduction also elevates some of the pressure from Rambo – those who, unlike me, saw the Welshman against England on Tuesday night will know that he was sensational but as I’ve said before we can not expect that level of performance from the lad every game, it just isn’t fair to put that on him at this stage in his Career. We all know that the time will, hopefully, come when alongside Jack, the Welsh captain will be considered the lynchpin of our side but we can’t have that level of expectation now.

It’ll be good for Frimpong to get back in the fold after his dismissal in our previous home game, and without doing Swansea a disservice it’s maybe an easier ride then the Ghanaian received against Liverpool. It’s great that the mystery ankle injury that kept him out of Stuart Pearce’s clutches seems to have cleared up without any medical intervention. You may even say that it is DEEEENCH!?

DEENCH

Up top I’m expecting to see the trio of Theo, Robin & Andrei. There have been suggestions that we could see Banayoun make his debut but personally I think that, again no offence to Swansea, after the restricted side he fielded against United Wenger will want to play as strong as an experienced side as possible. Whilst Yosi certainly has plenty in the way of experience, particularly of this league, I just think that le boss will err on the side of caution and stick with the little Russian who by all accounts gave a great account of himself in his countries recent internationals.

I suggested via Twitter earlier in the week that I thought that AOC could be given his full debut this afternoon but with everything I have just said about playing a more experienced side then think it would be remiss of me to suggest that the young Englishman, who made an explosive introduction to the U21’s on Monday night, could be granted a starting spot.

National Treasure

That said we do have to consider that we have a tough game against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday night and whilst our first three points of the season are most certainly the priority first and foremost we should have half an eye on that game and be making sure we can field a strong side at Signal Iduna Park.

Talking of Park’s, see what I did there…? Yesterday afternoon Ju was stranded in Paris due to problems with his visa, so looks unlikely to play any part in the game.

Set for a weekend in Paris

With regard to tomorrow’s opponents I’ll admit that I know little about them and aside from their opening game, and subsequent defeat at the United Stadium I’ve seen nothing at all of them this season. They certainly gave a good account of themselves against City on that Monday night and whilst the Mancunians allowed the Welshmen to play the football they enjoy and which helped them gain promotion last season it was ultimately futile as the score line reflected the one sided nature of the contest.

Could be Mannone's Dad...

Brendan Rodgers side are yet to score a league goal in their opening three fixtures but we certainly shouldn’t be taking their threat lightly especially when we think back to the two home defeats we suffered in the early part of last season at the hands of newly promoted sides. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the swans get of the mark, in terms of goals scored, but this really is a game we should win comfortably and expect us to do so.

Big Dave is here tomorrow with a post match report so be sure to come and have a read of that.

Right here’s to three points and a glut of goals.

Thanks for reading.

Paul.

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