Michael Laudrup's side face Arsenal in the FA cup this weekend, but Sunday’s match at the Liberty Stadium will hold no fear for Swansea, who have bested Wenger's side the last two times they have met.
FA cup third round weekend is traditionally a time when football fans look out for upsets, with the minnows of English football given a chance to face off against the biggest teams in the country. However there have been a few tasty all Premiership encounters pulled out of the hat this year, and Arsenal fans hoping for an easy passage to the fourth round will have been disappointed to see Swansea drawn against them.
Fresh in the mind will be the 2-0 win that Swansea took away from the Emirates at the start of December, but they will also remember the 3-2 loss at the Liberty that came in January. Arsenal will still be favourites, but the two consecutive losses to Swansea will rankle with them, and not just because of the points dropped in those matches.
Swansea have not only won, they have won playing the kind of slick passing football that has traditionally been synonymous with Arsenal. In the 3-2 win last season Swansea had over 55% of possession, and they had a creditable 47.5% of the ball even as they played more defensively at the Emirates this year. Arsenal have always had a little trouble with the rough and tumble teams in the league, but losing to Swansea holds a different kind of frustration for them.
Swansea have also “out-Arsenalled” Arsenal in another area this season - the transfer market. Whilst Wenger used to be the master of picking out an undervalued player from Europe and turning them into a Premiership star, it is Swansea who have done the best business in that regard this year. Several excellent players such as Pablo Hernandez and Chico have been brought in at bargain prices, and Swansea even managed to replace the £15 million man Joe Allen with Ki Sung-Yeung for around £6 million. The jewel in the crown has been the £2.2 million Michu, who is perhaps the bargain of the summer, and who recently netted a brace in the Emirates win.
Arsenal will be looking to set the record straight this weekend, and will certainly be keen to avoid Swansea being given the tag of their bogey team. Whatever the result, the match will see two technically adept teams face off in a high pressure knockout situation, and will certainly be worth paying close attention to.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald