Swansea were forced into three changes, bringing in Kyle Bartley and Marvin Emnes for the injured Federico Fernandez and Wayne Routledge, as well as loanee Tom Carroll for the suspended Jonjo Shelvey. All three have played more games in the Championship than at this level, while the bench looked extremely weak as a consequence of the missing players, with Modou Barrow handed a Premier League debut. But they managed to compete throughout the match against a side which boasts the sort of depth Swansea can only dream about, eventually winning the game through their one high-class substitute: Bafetimbi Gomis.
Much has been made of Nacho Monreal’s inclusion at centre-back in recent games but, on the whole, the Spaniard has performed as well as can be expected of any natural full-back so vividly unaccustomed in that role. He handled an under-par Wilfried Bony with relative ease despite the Ivorian’s clear game-plan to move to his side, but was inevitably out-strengthed in the air by Gomis for Swansea’s winner. Why Arsene Wenger does not swap Monreal with Calum Chambers, a natural centre-back playing at full-back, is seemingly a mystery to all but himself.
Despite a disappointing defeat, where Wenger is getting it right is with his front two, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez. Following Mesut Ozil’s injury, the Frenchman seems to have taken a leaf out of Brendan Rodgers’ book from last season in getting the most out of his best player in a central position, while the 4-4-1-1 formation allows counter-attacking football-where the opening goal came from-to thrive. Throw Theo Walcott into the mix and Arsenal’s problems don’t appear to remotely revolve around the front four.
Most people tuning into this match may have justifiably expected most of the tricky play to arrive via Sanchez but it was instead found in another South American talent, Jefferson Montero. The Ecuadorian was a constant menace down his team’s left-hand side—as he was against England in the warm-up match prior to the World Cup—and made Calum Chambers look silly on multiple occasions, most decisively for Swansea’s winner when his cross found Gomis to head home.
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