Premier League giants will look to bounce back from the League Cup defeat earlier this week
SWANSEA, UNITED KINGDOM: Arsenal will bid to erase the painful memory of their embarrassing League Cup exit against Sheffield Wednesday when they return to Premier League action at Swansea City on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger’s side have endured a frustrating week after the high of hitting the head of the Premier League table last Saturday by beating Everton.
The Gunners’ stint at the top lasted just 24 hours but they will attempt to maintain the pressure on leaders Manchester City when they travel to the Liberty Stadium.
However, Wenger’s side will head to south Wales still smarting from a dismal 3-0 League Cup exit at the hands of second-tier Wednesday in midweek.
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The pain of that defeat was compounded by the loss of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) and Theo Walcott (calf) to injury, with both players out until the coming international break which means they will also miss next week’s Champions League visit to Bayern Munich.
With Aaron Ramsey also sidelined, Wenger will be forced to turn to his fringe players including Alex Iwobi, who is in contention to make his Premier League debut on the right flank.
Wenger is keen not to move Santi Cazorla from the centre of midfield following the Spaniard’s impressive run alongside Francis Coquelin.
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The 30-year-old admits he is enjoying the switch to a deeper position.
“It’s a position I really like, though of course it means I’m further away from the opposing area so I have fewer chances to score,” said Cazorla.
“I’m finding my best form and I’m really enjoying the new position,” he told Arsenal’s website.
“You have different responsibilities. In terms of defence, you have to defend more and you have to help the team more in terms of making sure you’re well-positioned to ensure the players in attack can stay fresh.”
Mesut Ozil will be expected to maintain the form that has seen the Germany international provide more assists than any other Premier League player this season.
And former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry believes Ozil is finally demonstrating the form that persuaded his old club to pay £42 million ($64.3m, 58.6m euros) for the player two years ago.
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“For me, he has finally started to deliver on a consistent basis. We all know his quality; he is a World Cup winner; his touch is second to none; he has vision; he shares… everything is there,” Henry told Sky Sports.
“The only thing you can say, in all fairness, is that before he wasn’t doing it on a consistent basis.
“Now, he looks like he’s doing it every game so you have to give him credit.”
Swansea will welcome Wenger’s side with renewed confidence following their 2-1 victory at Aston Villa last weekend, their first win seven games.
And Swansea boss Garry Monk insists there was never any panic during that run.
“Each team will have a period where they will suffer and it’s about how you deal with that. Winning games obviously breeds confidence but this group is very strong,” said Monk.
“Our effort and commitment is always there and it’s about continuing to do the right things and working hard on the training ground.
“We know that when we are at our best we can give anyone a game in this league and we’ll need to be at that level on Saturday.
“If we do that we are in with a chance of getting the result we want.”
Monk, meanwhile, insists his players were not responsible for the tunnel fracas that followed the win at Villa Park and led to Villa captain Micah Richards facing an improper conduct charge.
“In terms of my players, and I’ve spoken to them, there was nothing at all from our side. I can’t speak for Aston Villa but everything from the Swansea side was fine,” said Monk.