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Swansea City condemned Arsenal to a 2-0 home Barclays Premier League defeat as Michu fired in two late goals at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal had been second best for long spells, and despite an improved performance after the break, Swansea earned reward for their persistence when Michu grabbed a late brace. The defeat meant Arsene Wenger's side dropped more points and fell further behind in the battle to break back into the top four.
Wenger opted to deploy Ivory Coast forward Gervinho in the central-striker role ahead of Theo Walcott, who had netted an early goal in the midweek 1-1 draw at Everton. It was Swansea who were the first to press, with a free-kick into the Arsenal penalty area eventually being hacked away by Per Mertesacker.
In the 14th minute Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a fine double save after Angel Rangel had been played in on the overlap down the right and fired in a low, angled drive, with his follow-up effort also blocked by the Pole.
Arsenal struggled to get any sort of rhythm together in the first 20 minutes. Carl Jenkinson, in for injured right-back Bacary Sagna, whipped a cross through the six-yard box, but Gervinho could not make contact. The hosts finally got some momentum, with Santi Cazorla heading at Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel after another good cross from Jenkinson. Nathan Dyer suddenly burst clear through on goal from a flick by Miguel Michu, but Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen made up the ground to produce a sliding block just as the Swansea forward shaped to shoot.
Eight minutes before the break Michu was bundled over by Mikel Arteta at the edge of the Arsenal penalty area. Jonathan de Guzman whipped his free-kick up over the wall, but also the crossbar.
Arsenal offered little in way of attacking threat, and when Podolski did send over a good cross from the left, Gervinho failed to make a clean connection as the ball bounced away to the corner flag.
Arsenal emerged with much more vigour for the restart. Cazorla shot straight at the goalkeeper following good work by Jack Wilshere. Gervinho's run to the edge of the Swansea box was halted by Chico, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on. There was still threat on the counter-attack from Swansea, though, as Rangel got clear again down the right, with Szczesny making another important block at the near post.
With 24 minutes to go, Wenger made a double change as Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Podolski and Gervinho. French striker Giroud was put clean through straightaway, but was caught by a desperate lunge from Chico. With 11 minutes left, Wilshere was replaced by Tomas Rosicky as the Czech midfielder made his first appearance since May.
Swansea created another good opening when substitute Dwight Tiendalli cut into the right side of the Arsenal box, but again Szczesny produced a smart block. With five minutes left, Vermaelen's flying header just lacked the pace to beat Tremmel.
Swansea took the lead when Michu broke clear after a neat one-two with substitute Luke Moore to slot past Szczesny. It got worse for Arsenal in stoppage time when Michu again latched on to a long clearance, racing through to beat the goalkeeper again.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We are in this job to turn things around, and I am confident we will [because of] the quality of the players and the spirit we have in the team. It is a good moment to stick together.
"I am not so much worried about [league] places, even if that is not the place you want to be, but what is important is we get the quality of our game back. Then the places change. You make your assessment at the end of the season, as I said many times.
"I know that at the moment, you get some good news from everywhere because there is a lot of unrest everywhere. It is a good opportunity to stick together and show we are a strong club. I believe the support from the board is there to spend the money if we find the players.
The quality of our game was not there. It was a bit frustrating because we lacked a bit of decisiveness and creativity. Swansea were more creative, more sharp. It is very frustrating, but it is the truth."
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: "There have been three great performances, each better than the [previous] one. The team is playing with a lot of confidence. They put us under pressure for 20 minutes in the second half and you know their players can make the difference at any moment, so you can never sit easy. We looked in quite good shape and were only defending deep a few times.
"For me, it is not more special than winning at QPR, or at Newcastle, it is an away game. Winning at the big clubs is more for people on the outside. For me, every away game is so difficult and now we have already won three away, plus in the cup against Liverpool, that is great for a club like us."
|02 Feb 2013||v Stoke (H)|
|19 May 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|22 Dec 2012||v Wigan (A)|
|20 Apr 2013||v Fulham (A)|
|09 Feb 2013||v Sunderland (A)|
|30 Jan 2013||v Liverpool (H)|