This is an important match for Arsenal. Their season has stalled so far, though with games against Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester United it was always going to be difficult. The North Londoners desperately need to find the right gear in this next game, or their Premier League challenge will be over before it even started.
In a way the harsh start to the season has done them a favour, with last weeks capitulation to United adding urgency to their bids to get experienced professionals into the club before the transfer window closed. Finally Wenger appears to have learnt that whilst the kids have potential, they can’t win matches week-in, week-out. With Mertesacker, Santos, Arteta, Park and Benayoun all now in place at the Emirates, the season must start now.
Swansea at home is one of those fixtures that the big guns are expected to win with consumate ease, and anything less than this will set the ‘crisis’ talk amongst the newpapers and fans even more. With the next three games against Swansea, Blackburn and Bolton, this is a genuine chance for Arsenal to build their points tally, and their confidence.
Expect Wenger to ring the changes from the (admittedly youthful) side that faced United. Mertesacker will add some steel to the centre of defence, though his natural first-team partner Thomas Vermaelen won’t be lining up alongside him after being ruled out with a hamstring injury. Wilshere’s pivotal role at the heart of all Arsenal’s moves will be taken over by Mikel Arteta, another debutant, whose style of play has always been a good fit to the way Arsenal play. Gervinho is still suspended, so it looks like Robin van Persie will be ploughing a lonely furrow up-front.
Manchester United 8-2 Arsenal
Swansea 0-0 Sunderland