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Aaron Ramsey scored his eighth goal of the season in all competitions as Arsenal moved to the top of the Barclays Premier League table with a 2-1 win at Swansea City. Ramsey's hot streak of form, with five goals in his last four matches, continued in his native Wales as Arsene Wenger's men won their fifth Barclays Premier League match in a row.
After a low-keyfirst half, Ramsey set up German teenager Serge Gnabry for the game's first goal in the 58th minute. The former Cardiff City midfielder produced a composed finish himself just a few moments later as Arsenal recorded their eighth Barclays Premier League away win in succession.
With a long injury list, Arsenal, who are missing Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, made nine changes from the side who beat West Bromwich Albion on penalties in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, retaining only Gnabry and Per Mertesacker. Swansea's defence of the Capital One Cup ended at Birmingham City in midweek, and they kept just four players in their team, recalling Spanish forward Michu, although they were without injured defensive pair Ashley Williams and Angel Rangel (both ankle).
Jonathan De Guzman and Jonjo Shelvey both fired over in the early stages for the hosts while Ramsey sent an effort wide from distance, but despite both sides enjoying good spells of possession, they failed to penetrate in a quiet first half. Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was almost caught out after a heavy touch played in Michu, but an offside flag avoided further embarrassment for the Polish goalkeeper, while a De Guzman free-kick was blasted over in an effort that summed up the first 45 minutes. The visitors might have scored in first-half stoppage time though, with an excellent Gnabry run finishing with Olivier Giroud, but the Frenchman, who had gone down with an ankle injury a few moments earlier, dragged his effort wide.
The second half started slowly, with Szczesny forced to charge off his line to deny Michu, but Arsenal won the game thanks to four minutes of brilliance. The lively Gnabry opened the scoring just short of the hour, making the most of a neat Ramsey reverse pass to slot a cool finish beyond Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm and into the bottom corner.
Mesut Ozil nearly doubled Arsenal's lead less than a minute later but his near-post effort was saved by Vorm, before a counter-attack that ended with Ramsey maintaining his scoring run. An excellent team move that also involved Jack Wilshere and Giroud led to the latter cutting the ball back for Ramsey, and the goalscorer took a touch before smashing an effort into the top far corner to delight the travelling fans.
Nathan Dyer forced Szczesny into a terrific save as Swansea pressed for a goal and defender Ben Davies gave them a lifeline with eight minutes to play. The left-back ran forward and played in substitute Wilfried Bony, and Davies followed his run, collecting Bony's lobbed pass and finishing beyond Szczesny.
It was a terrific goal but time ran out for Swansea, as Arsenal won again ahead of a mouth-watering UEFA Champions League clash against Rafael Benitez's Napoli on Tuesday.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "[Aaron Ramsey] became stronger. He had an outstanding second half today and scored again. What can you say? There's still a lot of improvement to come from him."
"[Serge Gnabry] is 18 years old. Early quality on the pitch is what he is showing. We are giving him confidence and he had another good game today."
"The first half was quite difficult. I felt we were a little bit slow in our combinations and Swansea were a little sharper than us. The second half we were much stronger. We took advantage of the chances we created. We have substance in the team and you could see that today in the second half.
Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup: "The first 45 minutes were very tight and even. Both teams were at the same level. [There were] very few chances, one each. Of course, the battle in midfield was the most important thing. [But] I wanted to keep our back four high and we did that in the first half. In the second half, we started maybe a little too deep for the first goal.
"When you play against players of this level and you are defending so deep, one or two quality passes and they create a chance like they did. But that can happen. The only thing I'm a little disappointed about is that from the first to the second goal, maybe we lost a little of our position on the pitch. The players wanted to go forward immediately to get the equaliser.
"You do that, you leave too much space for counter-attacks, and when they have players like Ozil, like Wilshere, Ramsey, you can have problems. Suddenly you are 2-0 down and then it is difficult.
"[After Arsenal's goals] we dominated for the rest of the game. We did not create a lot of chances but still some half-chances and then we got to 2-1 with 10 minutes to go but it wasn't enough. That just shows when you do that against a top team, they punish you. We were punished today in a very small period of the game but it was enough for them to win."
"We came out with purpose and won the game. That was important. Our spirit has been tested after the first home game [3-1 defeat by Aston Villa] and the way we responded… it is very positive."
|19 Jan 2014||v Spurs (H)|
|10 Nov 2013||v Stoke (H)|
|03 May 2014||v Southampton (H)|
|03 Nov 2013||v Cardiff (A)|
|29 Mar 2014||v Norwich (H)|
|02 Mar 2014||v Crystal Palace (H)|