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Arsenal kept themselves firmly in the race for Champions League qualification with a comfortable 2-0 victory away to Swansea City. Arsene Wenger’s side had by far the better of the contest and Nacho Monreal’s first goal for the club gave them the lead with 16 minutes remaining, before substitute Gervinho struck in stoppage time.
Swansea faded badly after a promising opening and, aside from a couple of half-chances, they barely worked Lukasz Fabianski in the Arsenal goal. The win moves Wenger’s side to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea - and four of third-placed Tottenham Hotspur - with their rivals in action on Sunday.
Arsenal could have led in the fifth minute thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as he tricked his way past Angel Rangel to beat Michel Vorm, only for his shot to clip the top of the bar. Swansea quickly settled after the early scare, and Ki Sung-Yueng’s weighted pass gave Rangel a run in on goal, but the full-back sliced wide of Fabianski’s goal.
The hosts enjoyed an extended spell of pressure and the visitors almost gifted them an opener when Carl Jenkinson passed the ball to Jonathan De Guzman. The Dutch international fed Michu, only for Swansea’s top scorer to fire narrowly wide on the turn.
Santi Cazorla’s dipping volley was parried by Vorm but Swansea looked assured, and the Gunners’ high defensive line were relieved to see Michu flagged offside after being put through by another through-ball from Ki.
Arsenal, with Abou Diaby dominating the midfield exchanges, began to take a hold on proceedings. Oxlade-Chamberlain was again denied by the woodwork three minutes before the break, his fierce swerving strike had Vorm beaten, but flicked the crossbar as it flew over. Cazorla was proving Arsenal’s most threatening attacking player and Vorm sharply saved the Spaniard’s low shot after he had cut in from the right.
Michu was a peripheral figure as Swansea struggled to assert themselves and he blazed miles over from Pablo Hernandez’s smart pass. But Swansea’s attacking forays were becoming increasingly rare and the dam eventually broke in the 74th minute.
Cazorla was again heavily involved as he tricked and teased his way past defenders on the edge of the box. The chance looked to have gone when Olivier Giroud took a heavy touch, but Monreal pounced to lash a shot across Vorm and into the corner with the help of a deflection off Ashley Williams.
Gervinho then made the points safe as Arsenal broke and Aaron Ramsey’s pass teed him up to slot low beyond Vorm.
Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup: "In the first half both teams played very well. They had a couple of very good shots from distance with Oxlade-Chamberlain having both of them.
"We also had a couple of very good chances. It was good football with two teams who like to play the possession game doing it very well. Both us and Arsenal did less well in the second half. There were no shots on target so at that stage it would be a 0-0 game.
"The first goal obviously decided the game and it was Arsenal who scored it. In the second half we could have done more but neither of the teams did very much to make the goalkeepers work - maybe because both teams play very well in the midfield. In the end they won because they scored the first goal."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "We know on the fixtures that this was one of the difficult games we had still to play. But we really wanted the win today and we kept going. The fact that our left-back scored the goal inside the box shows that we had the spirit, the desire and are up for the fight.
"I'm very proud of the players because they have given a lot at Bayern Munich on Wednesday, come home, travelled straightaway and won again away from home. It's never easy to do that. The team just kept going, it was the team that really wanted it today that have won the game.
"We've not always had that belief that you need at this level but the players were determined to give absolutely everything."
|30 Mar 2013||v Tottenham (H)|
|06 Apr 2013||v Norwich (A)|
|20 Apr 2013||v Southampton (H)|
|28 Apr 2013||v Chelsea (A)|
|04 May 2013||v Man City (H)|
|07 May 2013||v Wigan (A)|