Arsenal let winning position slip yet again as Swansea take points
Anderlecht lessons not heeded as Arsene Wenger’s side lose at the Liberty Stadium
Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis heads home the winning goal in the Premier League game against Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images
Swansea 2 Arsenal 1
There is no respite for Arsene Wenger. Five days after seeing his side surrender a three-goal lead in the Champions League against Anderlecht, the Arsenal manager was forced to endure the painful sight of Swansea City scoring twice in three minutes to inflict a defeat that will prompt a fresh bout of soul-searching.
Leading through a fine breakaway goal from Alexis Sánchez, who has now scored 12 in his last 14 appearances and is increasingly carrying this Arsenal team, the visitors were pegged back when Gylfi Sigurdsson swept a sublime free-kick into the top corner. Swansea sensed blood and moments later were celebrating the goal that lifts them above Arsenal and to fifth in the table.
It was no surprise that Jefferson Montero was the creator. The Ecuador international was the outstanding player on the pitch and tormented Calum Chambers throughout with his pace on the Swansea left. Another of those forays down the Arsenal right ended with Montero leaving Chambers in his wake and crossing for Bafétimbi Gomis, who had only just replaced Wilfried Bony, to head home his first Premier League goal. Arsenal could have no complaints with the outcome.
The game had been a slowburner and failed to come to life until the 21st minute, when Swansea felt that they should have been awarded a penalty. Marvin Emnes crossed from the right and Chambers, leading with his left arm, pushed Bony in the back. Phil Dowd, who could not have been better positioned, waved away the appeals. Arsenal had still not dealt with the danger and moments later Montero drilled an angled shot that Wojciech Szczesny repelled at the near post.
Swansea, despite losing Nathan Dyer, Wayne Routledge and Federico Fernández to injury in the lead-up to the game, were starting to take control against a disappointing Arsenal side and the home team passed up a decent chance to take the lead in the 36th minute. Chambers slipped close to the halfway line, gifting possession to Montero and leaving Arsenal exposed defensively. Montero quickly found Bony and with Kieran Gibbs caught upfield and Emnes in oceans of space on the Swansea right, the Ivorian rolled the ball into his path. Emnes did not need to break stride but his low shot was straight at Szczesny.
Arsenal had offered little up until that stage, with only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain catching the eye with his pace on the right flank. Neil Taylor and Ki Sung-yueng were booked for early fouls on the England winger, who was involved in Arsenal’s most promising move in the first half. Sánchez, hitherto peripheral, glided across the edge of the Swansea area before sliding the ball into the feet of Danny Welbeck. The England striker played a neat one-two with Oxlade-Chamberlain to create the space for a shot that Lukasz Fabianski kept out at his near post.
Oxlade-Chamberlain had another chance early in the second half when Sanchez released him, but the winger never got the ball out of his feet and, under pressure from Taylor, shot tamely at Fabianski. Sánchez was not so forgiving following a superb Arsenal counter-attack in the 63rd minute.
It started with Oxlade-Chamberlain seizing possession inside the Swansea half after Tom Carroll’s sliding tackle. Sprinting upfield, Oxlade-Chamberlain moved the ball onto Santi Cazorla, who released Welbeck on the Arsenal right. With pace to burn Welbeck ran clear before checking back and rolling the ball square for Sánchez, whose first-time shot from eight yards was only going to end up in the back of the net.
Arsenal, however, never looked comfortable. Bony should have levelled two minutes later when Montero got to the byline for the umpteenth time and cut the ball back invitingly, only for the striker to slice his side-footed shot horribly wide. Back came Swansea again and this time they got some reward.
Gibbs was booked after cynically bringing down Modou Barrow, the Swansea substitute, in full flight and from the free-kick that followed Sigurdsson curled a superb 25-yard shot beyond Szczesny. With Arsenal still reeling from that setback, Swansea struck again. Montero ghosted past Chambers with alarming ease and stood up a deep cross that Gomis, towering above Nacho Monreal, headed into the far corner.