Arsenal returned from the international break and picked up where they left off – with all three points despite Jon Moss’s efforts to ensure Swansea left the Emirates with something.
There were no surprises in Arsene Wenger’s starting XI, perhaps only Francis Coquelin’s inclusion on the bench causing the odd raised eyebrow as he made a miraculous return from his knee injury. Lucas also returned to his spot on the bench.
Arsenal started brightly, and Ozil should have done better with an effort he scuffed after just three minutes. Mustafi then almost opened his Arsenal account when he rose highest after gaining half a year at a corner, but the woodwork denied him.
Swansea, as they tend to be at the Emirates, were not without threat of their own.
Sitting back, they looked to hit Arsenal on the break, a tactic that has worked well for them over the years. Better finishing could have given them the lead in the first half, despite Arsenal dominating.
Wave after wave of Arsenal red kept flooding forward but Swansea threw everything in the way and it looked as if it might be another frustrating weekend but we hadn’t counted on our ‘like a new signing’ Theo Walcott.
Still playing like he’s due a new contract, Theo netted his fourth goal in his last five games after 26 minutes. Showing great tenacity and strength to get the ball first and poke home from close range, it was a deserved lead.
It was Walcott again who made it two, again from inside the six-yard box, as he stood in the centre without a Swansea player near him and all the time in the world to take a touch, turn and slam home. Five in five for whoever killed Theo in the summer and is playing football wearing a Theo suit.
A terrible mistake from Granit Xhaka, who’d been playing so well, let Swansea back in to the game. Sigurdsson still had a lot of work to do, but it was reminiscent of many games against sides like Swansea in which the opposition score from nothing.
Halftime and Arsenal’s one-goal lead did not reflect the 45 minutes that had gone before in the slightest.
Jon Moss started the second half as he had played the first – allowing Swansea to do what they wanted because he’s too unfit to keep up with play and too incompetent to know what constitutes a foul. I don’t want to say there should be a body fat test before officials are allowed to referee games that feature finely tuned professionals but…scratch that, that’s exactly what I want to say.
A third should have come via Theo after some mesmerising skills from Alex Iwobi, but he could only pass it back to Fabianski when he had the goal at his mercy.
Seconds later, birthday boy Mesut Ozil showed how it’s done, rifling home a side-footed volley that gave Fabianski no chance at his near post. It was a beautiful finish. It was Mesut’s third of the season and Alexis’ sixth assist.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Arsenal if we didn’t make things at least a little interesting, so it’s no surprise that, with the two-goal lead restored, they took the foot off the pedal as they had in the first and allowed Swansea right back in it.
Some poor defending from Kostafi allowed Borja Baston the freedom of the penalty area and he made no mistake.
If we thought that would wake Arsenal up, Jon Moss had other ideas with a straight red for Granit Xhaka who made a cynical challenge that was a yellow every day of the week.
Barrow was opening up at the half-way line close to the touchline, he got past Xhaka who clipped his heel. Was it late? Yes. Was it dangerous? No. Was it high? No. Was it denying a clear goalscoring opportunity? Not even close.
Xhaka red card pic.twitter.com/YtUU9NXHJU
— Terje (@AFCTerje) October 15, 2016
A total joke of a decision. There was a reason we said Arsenal needed to be careful with Moss in our referee preview, and this was it.
It was a nervy period after the sending off, but Arsenal still managed to get forward. No more goals came, although Theo hit the post and watch as the ball rolled along the line and Hector forced Fabianksi into a save in injury time.
This win makes it six in a row for Arsenal in the league, a stat no other side in the division can match. Next up, Ludogorets and the Champions League.