Arsenal will be looking to continue their good run of October form which has seen them win all three Premier League games, scoring eight goals and conceding only one. They have also beaten Bayern Munich 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League during this run, but a much-changed side was dumped out of the Capital One Cup 3-0 at hands of Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday night.
Swansea City were not in action midweek so have had extra rest and time to prepare for this weekend’s game against a side they took six points from last season.
Garry Monk’s side ended a five-game winless streak last weekend when they came from behind to win at Aston Villa. The Swans had previously failed to score in three of their last five matches, whilst Arsenal head into the weekend with a good defensive record of late.
Arsene Wenger is depleted in midfield through numerous injuries: Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta and Danny Welbeck are all sidelined.
We could see Kieran Gibbs or Hector Bellerin play in midfield on Saturday, or Mathieu Flamini come in to play alongside Francis Coquelin, allowing Santi Cazorla to push forward. Either way, not an ideal situation for the Gunners.
Here are five matchups Arsenal will want to win if they are to come away from the Liberty Stadium with three points:
Bafetimbi Gomis vs Arsenal defence
Swansea City’s front man has failed to score in his last six Premier League games, having started by scoring in each of the first four.
Bafetimbi Gomis scored the winner in both fixtures versus Wenger’s side last season, so the French manager ought to set up a game plan to prevent the striker from hurting Arsenal’s title chances.
Gabriel Paulista has missed a couple of games recently, so it could be between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker to keep the striker quiet, and they’ve done a good job versus the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Romelu Lukaku and Wayne Rooney.
Alexis Sanchez vs Kyle Naughton
Depending on which flank Alexis Sanchez lines up on will determine which full-back the Chilean star faces. Santi Cazorla is an option down the left wing as Wenger has no other experienced players other than Sanchez down the right.
Guessing that Alexis will remain down the left, this should be a good match up for him against Kyle Naughton, who isn’t the most secure of full-backs.
Whilst the former Tottenham Hotspur defender is quick enough to make up for any poor positioning, the strength, speed and dribbling ability of the Arsenal forward may see him win this matchup, which could be a deciding factor in the outcome of the match. He’ll certainly cause both the right-back and Federico Fernandez problems when he cuts inside.
Olivier Giroud vs Federico Fernández
Olivier Giroud is a man in form at the moment and the Swansea City defence isn’t having the best of seasons. In fact, they’ve only kept two clean sheets in their opening 10 league games this season (at home to Newcastle and Everton) and have not shut out an opponent in their past four games.
Wenger has no other options up front due to injuries, and whilst Giroud’s aerial threat may be countered by Ashley Williams, with the playmakers around him, you would certainly expect the French striker to see opportunities with his feet.
Mesut Ozil vs Jonjo Shelvey
The combination of Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil have been fantastic for Arsenal in dominating possession and controlling games of late. The German playmaker has also been excellent at creating chances for his side.
Jonjo Shelvey and Jack Cork haven’t provided the best of cover for their back four so far this season, and provided Wenger doesn’t swap too many players around (ie keep Sanchez on the left and Cazorla next to Coquelin), then a midfield run by Ozil down the centre, can really cause the home side problems on Saturday.
Shelvey does get stuck in with challenges, but his positioning can be questioned and the 2014 World Cup winner is clever enough to take advantage of any space left behind.
Gylfi Sigurdsson vs Francis Coquelin
Should Santi Cazorla play down the left wing, where he has in the past, then Mathieu Flamini could be drafted into holding midfield, alongside Francis Coquelin. Flamini has not seen too much action over the past 10 months or so.
The Icelandic playmaker hasn't been heavily involved in the goals so far this season (2 goals, 1 assist) but should Arsenal change their back four protection, Sigurdsson certainly has the ability to cause problems.
Arsenal should also be wary of conceding free kicks around their penalty area as Swansea have a deadly set-piece taker here.