Three of Arsenal’s remaining four Premier League fixtures are at home, starting with Monday night’s clash against Swansea City.
With Champions League football all but guaranteed, the Gunners’ attention now turns to finishing in second place, while the Swans make the trip to Emirates Stadium having enjoyed a record-breaking season.
Not since the 2004-05 campaign have Arsenal finished in the top two of the Premier League under Arsene Wenger’s guidance, but winning all four of their remaining matches this season will put that right.
There is certainly a growing belief in North London that the Gunners can achieve that feat, particularly when you take into consideration their recent form.
Of their last eight Premier League games, Wenger’s men have won seven, with the other ending in a 0-0 draw against champions Chelsea – a game in which Arsenal created the better of the chances but were unable to break down their fellow Londoners.
They will also be buoyed by their showings at the Emirates Stadium – a venue where they have lost just once in 34 Premier League games. Add to that the fact that they have shipped just two goals in their last seven games there and it’s easy to see why it has become such a fortress of late.
While the likes of Alexis Sanchez have claimed the headlines this term, the form of David Ospina between the posts should also be recognised.
Arsenal have won 12 of the 14 games in which the Colombian has kept goal and even more impressively, he is yet to concede a goal in the first half of any of those matches.
Recent form: WWWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWDW
His name is rarely mentioned in conjunction with the award, but few could begrudge Garry Monk if he were to be named the Manager of the Year this season.
After all, with three games to spare, his side have already recorded their best ever points tally in the Premier League and they could still actually finish in seventh spot, which in turn may see them qualify for the Europa League.
For that to happen, they would realistically need to win all of their remaining matches to topple Southampton and also hope that their hosts on Monday overcome Aston Villa in the FA Cup final later this month.
While there are a whole host of reasons behind Swansea’s impressive season, the form of midfielder Ki Sung-yueng is difficult to ignore.
In the previous two campaigns, the South Korean, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland, scored a combined total of three goals, whereas this time around he has found the net on eight occasions.
Three of Ki’s goals have been scored on the road, where the Swans have won six times and lost eight, with three draws also thrown in.
Recent form: WWDLWW
In all his years in the Premier League, Wenger has never named the same starting lineup for five consecutive matches, but this encounter offers him the chance to do just that.
However, the opportunity may well be taken out of the French manager’s hands because former Cardiff City midfielder Aaron Ramsey is a doubt with the leg injury that he suffered during the 3-1 win over Hull City last time out.
Should the Wales international miss out, that could earn a recall for Jack Wilshere, who is now fit again following an ankle complaint that kept him sidelined for a number of months.
Like Ramsey, Danny Welbeck is also likely to be absent with a knee injury. The ex-Manchester United striker has a good record against the Swans, having scored three times in his four games against them.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may be in contention for a place on the bench following his recovery from a hamstring problem, but the game is likely to come too soon for Mikel Arteta.
As for the away side, with striker Nelson Oliveira ruled out, Bafetimbi Gomis is expected to make a timely return to action.
The French frontman has missed his team’s last three matches, but he should shake off a hamstring strain to feature.
Kyle Naughton and Wayne Routledge, both of whom are former players of Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham Hotspur, are injured, while Tom Carroll, who is on loan from Spurs, is also not fit.
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla, Wilshere, Ozil, Sanchez; Giroud
Swansea possible starting lineup:
Fabianski; Rangel, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor; Cork, Shelvey, Dyer, Sigurdsson, Montero; Gomis
Head To Head
In the Premier League, there has been very little to split these two sides. In their seven previous meetings, there have been three wins apiece, with one draw.
However, in total, the head-to-head record currently belongs to Arsenal, who lead Swansea 9-6.
At the Liberty Stadium earlier this season, Sanchez put Arsenal 1-0 up, but late goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Gomis sealed the home side a memorable 2-1 win.
We say: Arsenal 3-1 Swansea
On current form, Arsenal are the Premier League’s best side and they should continue that against Swansea. Full of confidence and with a settled side, they are likely to dominate the possession at the Emirates Stadium and assuming that they convert their chances, it will be a routine win. However, Swansea are capable of causing problems so the Gunners cannot afford to take them lightly
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