Arsenal and Swansea are due to lock horns for the fourth time this season in a battle that has often swung in the way of Swansea since their promotion to the Premier League last season.
In their last league meeting Arsenal were being matched at their own game, keeping the score to a tie until two pieces of magic from Michu in the dying embers of the game secured a 2-0 win for Swansea at the Emirates. An FA Cup tie between the teams was spread over two games with Jack Wilshere eventually putting the tie to bed to put Arsenal through on the night.
The fixture will no doubt be a spectacle for both sets of fans and any lover of football. Both teams play “the beautiful game”, concentrating on power through possession and using the space available on the pitch to great effect. However, whilst these similarities are clear to see, what factors make the possibility of a league double over the Gunners looking more and more possible for Swansea?
5. An Out of Form Captain
Since signing for Arsenal in 2009, Thomas Vermaelen has been a key figure in the defensive line for Arsenal. The Belgian brought steel to what was often a very light back four for Arsenal, harking back to the days of Adams, Bould, Winterburn, Keown et al. Recently, however, this is not been the case. Inconsistent performances from the now club captain have often given Wojciech Szczęsny extra work to do between the sticks yet presumably due to his captaincy duties, Vermaelen retains his position in the team.
The partnership of Koscielny and Mertesacker has flourished during Vermaelen’s time out of the starting XI but is rarely started. Wednesday’s performance against Bayern Munich is testament to the understanding between the French and German internationals amongst many other performances. In fact the constant in the centre back pairing is often the towering Per Mertesacker and many agree that Koscielny seems to get even more out of Mertesacker.
If this partnership is broken to make way for Vermaelen on Saturday, Swansea’s front line of Michu, Routledge, Dyer and Hernandez will no doubt look to hound the Belgian in to dropping another clanger.
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This article was first posted on March 16, 2013