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Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League title hopes suffer another major blow (Arsenal 1 Swansea 2)

By News Express on 03/03/2016

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Arsenal’s Barclays Premier League title hopes suffered another major blow as they went down to a 2-1 home defeat against struggling Swansea City on Wednesday.

Joel Campbell put Arsene Wenger’s men into an early lead, but Wayne Routledge’s first top-flight goal since December 2014 had the visitors level.

The Gunners hit the woodwork twice in the first half through Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez, who did so again after the break a few moments before Ashley Williams’ close-range winner stunned the Emirates.

Arsenal have now only won two of their last eight league fixtures at a crucial stage of the campaign and remain six points behind leaders Leicester City with 10 matches remaining.

Swansea, who were without head coach Francesco Guidolin who was taken to hospital with a chest infection earlier in the day, made six changes to their team and stay 16th, but significantly open up a welcome six-point cushion on the bottom three.

There were three alterations for the hosts, with Per Mertesacker replacing the injured Laurent Koscielny, while Campbell and Giroud came in for Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck.

Arsenal almost moved in front when Mesut Ozil headed on to Sanchez, with the attacker mis-hitting his original effort before composing himself and striking a right-footed shot against the post as former Gunners goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski gratefully collected the rebound.

The Gunners did find the opener after 15 minutes, though. Sanchez cleverly sent a chip into the box and Campbell, on the slide, hooked an impressive left-footed finish into the far corner.

But after a slow start, Swansea came back into the match and were level in the 32nd minute. Arsenal wanted a free-kick on the halfway line when Jordi Amat challenged Ozil, but referee Robert Madley was unmoved. The visitors then broke quickly and Jack Cork produced an excellent throughball, allowing Routledge – one of the six brought into the team - to take one touch and confidently slot past Petr Cech.

Arsenal should have regained the lead shortly before half-time, but Giroud could only smash his right-footed volley against the crossbar from 10 yards after Mertesacker had headed an Aaron Ramsey cross into his path.

The home fans were unhappy to see Wenger bring off Campbell when he opted to introduce Welbeck for the final 26 minutes and they had their hearts in their mouths a few moments later when substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson surged through on goal, rounded Cech but fired wide from a tight angle.

Having survived that scare, Arsenal hit the woodwork for a third time after Ozil had been fouled by Williams. Sanchez took the free-kick from 20 yards out and curled an excellent effort against the bar.

It looked like the match was set up for a late charge from Wenger’s men, but it was Swansea who moved in front 16 minutes from time when Sigurdsson sent in a marvellous set-piece from the right and Williams beat Cech to the ball before bundling home from close range.

Walcott replaced Sanchez for the closing stages and Ramsey had a penalty claim turned down after he was challenged by Routledge, but the visitors held on for a shock first victory in five league fixtures

Arsenal, meanwhile, lost back-to-back league matches for the first time this season and suffered a third defeat in a row in all competitions following a Champions League setback at the hands of Barcelona last week.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I believe we were really unlucky with our finishing and some decisions today. They had two shots on target and two goals and we need to bounce back very quickly now.

“Petr Cech is injured. I think it will keep him out of the game against Tottenham at the weekend, but I have full confidence in David Ospina.

“The performance was okay, but we were unlucky on the night. We were on top and hit the bar a number of times.”

Swansea first-team coach Alan Curtis: “That’s a very important win for us. We had our backs to the wall but I thought we played really well. We had a bad start, deservedly went behind, but in the second half I thought we were excellent.

“It’s a great atmosphere in the dressing-room and tonight was a great reminder of how it feels to win games at this level.

“Hopefully we can get a few more before the end of the season.”

•Sourced from premierleague.com. Photo shows Arsenal players leaving the pitch after a defeat.

Source News Express

Posted 03/03/2016 05:53:32 AM

 

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