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Swansea stun Arsenal 2-0 as Michu strikes late

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arsene_wenger_pondersA brace from Spanish superstar Michu helped Swansea City register a well deserved 2-0 win against Arsenal at the Emirates, their first away against the Gunners in 30 years. Arsenal were very poor on the day, and Swansea were good value for the win. The Swans should have gone ahead in the first half, only to be denied by Wojciech Szczesny, who produced one of his best displays in the Arsenal goal. However, some cool finishing from Michu saw all the points head to Wales as the Spaniard struck in the 88th minute before making the result safe in injury time. Swansea leapfrogged the Gunners into 7th place courtesy their win, while Arsenal slipped deeper into the mire into 10th place.

The Gunners made four changes to the side that started the game against Everton in midweek with Kieran Gibbs preditably replacing Laurent Koscielny with the French defender set to miss three weeks of action due to a groin strain. Lukas Podolski recovered from his infection to return to the starting line-up in place of Olivier Giroud, while Gervinho was also reinstated on the left-wing with Aaron Ramsey making way. Bacary Sagna meanwhile missed the game altogether with a foot injury, with Carl Jenkinson his ready replacement.

Swansea also made a couple of changes, though theirs were far more surprising. Wayne Routledge who scored two in midweek against West Brom and Pablo Hernandez, who made all three goals were both missing from the squad completely, which meant a return to the starting eleven for Dutchman Jonathan de Guzman and Israeli striker Itay Shechter. Danny Graham continued to miss out due to illness.

An under-pressure Arsenal were also under the cosh a bit early on with Thomas Vermaelen forced into a last ditch tackle within the first five minutes to deny Shechter after Michu's pass had the set the striker on his way. Moments later, Ashley Williams had an acrobatic effort go horribly wrong after Swansea had won a rather fortuitous free-kick  which Arsenal struggled to clear.

Not for the first time at home, Arsenal had failed to turn up in the first 15 minutes, and Swansea were bossing possession. Some patient play from the Swans saw them create some space on the right which allowed Rangel to get behind the defence, where he was denied by Wojciech Szczesny not once but twice in succession.

Arsenal's best moment of the first 25 minutes was a delicious cross from Jenkinson which just evaded Gervinho, producing an excellent defensive header from Chico Flores. The Gunners though had still to register a shot in the contest. That changed in the 29th minute with Cazorla registering a token header goalwards from another Jenkinson cross, the shortest Arsenal player on the pitch never really looking like troubling the Swansea keeper.

Arsenal's short spell of pressure amounted to naught, and Swansea were soon in the ascendancy again with Michu beating Mertesacker in the air to send Nathan Dyer through on goal. The 25-year old English winger got the better of Vermaelen, but the Arsenal skipper jumped off the turf and raced back to get a foot in just as Dyer was about to pull the trigger.

Swansea earned a free-kick on the edge of the box in the 38th minute when Arteta gave away a soft foul for a push on Michu. De Guzman stepped up to take the free-kick, but saw his dipping effort land on the roof of the net.

Gervinho had a free-header from a Gibbs cross in the last minute of the first half, but the Ivorian looked clueless under the ball, with the ball skimming off his head and not even making its way off the pitch. The first half ended goal-less, with Swansea perhaps regretting their inability to convert a good half of football into a lead on the scoreboard.

Arsenal came out for the second half with a lot more purpose about them, and started imposing themselves on the game. Cazorla registered Arsenal's first real shot in anger with a crisp left-foot strike from the edge of the box after some good play by Wilshere, but the Spaniard hit his shot straight at Gerhard Tremel in the Swansea goal.

Cazorla though was lucky not to be booked having gone down in the box looking to con the ref into giving a penalty in the 58th minute. The Spaniard though did register another token shot on the hour mark with his long range effort taking a deflection off Podolski and nestling comfortably into the keeper's gloves.

Arsenal had almost 70% of the possession in the second half, but it was Swansea who had the best chance when Rangel went on another one of his trademark mazy runs from right back and produced a rasping effort, only to be denied by Szczesny once again.

Arsenal threw on Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 66th minute in an attempt to influence proceedings in the final third. Arsenal believed they should have had a penalty when last man Chico Flores brought down Giroud in the box after a Swansea error at the back, but referee Mark Clattenburg was adamant that the player got a touch on the ball.

The good and bad of Cazorla continued to be on full view today as the Spaniard showed excellent technique to catch one on the fly, but Tremmel was sharp and got his body behind the shot. The former Malaga man then gifted the ball to Michu in midfield, who raced up the other end and registered a shot on target which Szczesny was well positioned to collect.

Arsenal threw on Tomas Rosicky for his first piece of action of the season in the last 10 minutes, but it was the Swansea substitute debutant Tiendalli, who was the latest to be denied by Szczesny when through on goal, the Arsenal keeper certainly earning his money today.

Szczesny's heroics though appeared to be in vain as Michu put Swansea ahead in the 88th minute. The Spanish goal machine skipped past the Arsenal defence like it was non-existent, and playing a delightful one-two with substitute Luke Moore, before curling his shot past Szczesny, who had gone down too early.

Arsenal pushed everyone forward in injury time and they were caught on the break with Nathan Dyer robbing Jenkinson and playing Michu through, who produced another clinical finish to give Swansea a well deserved 2-0 win.

Teams:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Cazorla, Arteta, Wilshere (Rosicky 80'), Walcott, Gervinho (Oxlade-Chamberlain 66'), Podolski (Giroud 66').

Subs: Mannone, Rosicky, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Squillaci, Coquelin.

Swansea: Tremmel, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton, Ki, de Guzman (Tiendalli 75'), Shechter (Moore 66'), Michu.

Subs: Cornell, Monk, Moore, Tiendalli, Agustien, Richards, Donnelly.

Score Arsenal 0-2 Swansea (Michu 88', 90+1')

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File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel