Swansea City 3-1 Arsenal: Swans deservedly beat lacklustre Gunners as Henrikh Mkhitaryan makes debut
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Swansea City deservedly beat Arsenal 3-1 at a passionate Liberty Stadium.
Two goals from Sam Clucas and a close range effort from Jordan Ayew clinched the three points for Carlos Carvalhal’s men on a raucous night with only a Nacho Monreal effort for the visitors.
With all the talk of transfers Olivier Giroud travelled with the squad to make it onto the bench as one of the seven substitutes on a cold and wet evening at the Liberty.
With suitors Chelsea waiting to pounce - and still possibly Borussia Dortmund as you can never rule anything out in the maelstrom that is the last day of the transfer window – it could have been interpreted as a defiant signal from the powers-that-be at the club. Whatever happens on Wednesday you cannot fault the French player – even if you can fault his manager for leading his men to such a poor performance as they suffered a deserved defeat.
Another player who was on the bench was Henrikh Mkhitaryan. After being ineligible for the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg and the 2-1 victory victory against Chelsea in the Gunners previous game, the prodigiously talented 29-year-old Armenian stood by to make his debut against Swansea.
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And as the heavens opened on a filthy evening in South Wales a football match broke out.
On nine minutes Aaron Ramsey performed a last-ditch tackle to deny an onrushing Alfie Mawson yards from the line after a cross from Nathan Dyer.
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Seven minutes later Mohamed Elneny executed a perfectly timed sliding tackle on a greasy surface to deny Clucas in the box. There were howls of protest from the home fans but referee Lee Mason made the right decision without having to revert to VAR.
Swansea dominated in difficult conditions and on the half hour Elneny again blocked a shot from Mawson as the ball deflected wide.
Yet it was the visitors who broke the deadlock after first threatening through Alex Iwobi, whose left-footed shot was turned away by former Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski following a neat ball from Alexandre Lacazette.
Nacho Monreal gave Arsenal the lead on 33 minutes after tucking home a Mesut Ozil cross. The team celebrated heartily knowing it was against the run of play as they went 1-0 up.
Monreal again proved his worth as his goal meant he had a hand in four of the last five Premier League goals for the club, with two assists and two strikes.
Moments later Swansea were to level through Clucas after a driving run culminating in the former Hull City man slotting past Cech at the near post to make it 1-1.
The second half started in the same vein with lots of endeavour as the rain sheeted down. On the hour mark Mkhitaryan made his Arsenal debut as his new colleagues prepared to take a corner, which ultimately came to nothing.
Unfortunately, moments later Swansea broke and Ayew capitalised on a dreadful mis-kick in the box from Cech to fire home from a matter of yards out.
Yes, the conditions were challenging but a keeper of his calibre and experience should never have made that mistake as the home side went 2-1 up on 61 minutes.
Giroud came on to acclaim from the travelling fans who chorused his name, but only time would tell if it was to be the last time he would hear his song in Gunners colours.
As the clock ticked down the excellent Clucas then made it 3-1 to complete a miserable night for Arsenal.
If Wenger doesn’t decide to prioritise the Europa League after this damaging defeat then he needs to ask himself why – because fourth spot is out of reach if his team keeps playing like this.
Poor Mkhitaryan must be wondering what he has let himself in for.