We took to the pitch at the Liberty with Gabriel switched to right-back, in the absence of Hector Bellerin, and the rest of our first choice back five in situ again. Olivier Giroud was retained up front with Alexis and Alex Iwobi notionally occupying the flanks.
To say the match started slowly is a huge understatement. It didn’t really get going until the 28th minute when Iwobi found Sanchez at inside-left and the Chilean’s drive drew a smart save from our old friend Lukasz Fabianski at his near post.
Eight minutes later a swift break saw us take the lead. Aaron Ramsey’s cross from the right missed all but Alexis on the left hand side of the box, and from his chip Ozil’s header was deflected into the path of Giroud who finished from point-blank range.
Swansea 0-1 Arsenal
The scorer signalled to the bench that he was injured following a coming together with Fabianski in the build-up and confusion reigned temporarily as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain prepared to come on, only for the Frenchman to change his mind. A scorer in his last five appearances and his last nine starts, his fitness is very important to us right now.
Ki-sung Yeung’s dramatic tumble when Laurent Koscielny withdrew from a challenge in the box earned a yellow card for simulation from referee Mike Jones. Replays confirmed the official made the correct call. The home fans, not having the benefit of those replays, booed loudly as the half-time whistle mercifully ended an awful half of football.
We were so close to a second goal when Ramsey accepted a defence-splitting pass from Alexis but Fabianski was equal to his effort. Our former goalkeeper was left helpless a minute later. Iwobi was the beneficiary of some smart work by Nacho Montreal and his deflected drive looped over Fabianski and dropped just inside the far post.
Swansea 0-2 Arsenal
On the hour the change hinted at earlier finally happened as Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for a still-struggling Giroud. Let’s hope the injury to his left ankle is not a serious one. Colin Lewin got to work on the offending joint on the substitutes bench.
Swansea were trying to make a fist of it but their finishing was poor, as happens to a team devoid of confidence and inspiration. Another deflected Iwobi effort in the 67th minute will have to go down as an own-goal by Naughton as the Arsenal turned the screw on deflated opponents.
Swansea 0-3 Arsenal
It got worse for the Swans when Iwobi’s cross was deflected into the path of the unmarked Alexis near the penalty spot and he volleyed home.
Swansea 0-4 Arsenal
Four could, perhaps should, have been five when Iwobi teed up Alexis again but the Chilean’s first touch let him down. It was his last act as he and Mesut Ozil made way for Danny Welbeck and Lucas. Alexis looked far from happy at the perfectly sensible decision. We’ll need him to be fresh for much sterner opposition than Swansea. The tabloids will doubtless make more of his show of petulance than may have been intended.
On the pitch Granit Xhaka fired one effort wide before drawing a good diving save from Fabianski. Sigurdsson’s tame effort in response was typical of Swansea’s afternoon. Xhaka, taking complete control of the second-half, fired another long-range effort at Fabianski.
In time added on Borja came as close as anyone to scoring for the Swans but his flying header cleared the bar. More worryingly Skhodran Mustafi limped off the pitch as a result of his challenge. Fingers are firmly crossed that he, as well as Giroud, recovers fully before next week’s meeting with Burnley.
In summary you can only beat what is in front of you. When Arsenal did find some semblance of form in the second-half we were worthy winners but that first-half performance, and it’s not for the first time in recent weeks, is a cause for concern.