Swansea City 0–3 Arsenal
It was a result that at half time would have seemed inconceivable – but Swansea City were made to pay for early missed opportunities as Arsenal struck three second half goals to secure a resounding win at the Liberty Stadium.
For the opening 45 minutes, it appeared the fluency and urgency that had been notably missing from Garry Monk’s side in recent weeks had returned as the home side took the game to the visitors.
But crucially, the Gunners still went in 0-0 at the break and after Olivier Giroud headed them into a second half lead, Laurent Koscielny and Joel Campbell also struck as Arsene Wenger’s men dominated the latter stages.
The home side made a bright start but it was Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal who had the first sight of goal when he dragged his shot wide following good work by Joel Campbell.
The latter then went close himself when his curling left foot effort was inches away from the top corner, but then it was the Swans who missed a glorious chance to lead 20 minutes in.
Jonjo Shelvey’s through ball put Bafetimbi Gomis clean through on goal, but the Frenchman hesitated and as he tried to round away keeper Petr Cech, Hector Bellerin got back to clear the danger.
Bellerin himself had been given a testing opening from Swansea winger Jefferson Montero, and sure enough, the Ecuadorian soon beat his marker again before his left foot cross found the struggling Gomis – who could only head straight at Cech.
At the other end, Giroud then missed Arsenal’s best first half chance when he met Mesut Ozil’s defence splitting pass first time– but could only fire over from 15 yards.
Montero continued to torment Bellerin and after the Spaniard brought him down on the edge of the area, Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free kick appeared to strike the hand of Per Mertersacker in the Arsenal wall – but referee Kevin Friend was unmoved.
Moments later, Montero was involved again as he exchanged passes for Ki Sung-Yeung and crossed for Shelvey, who headed tamely over.
However, if Monk was hoping his side would continue their momentum after the break, he got the exact opposite when four minutes in, Giroud lost marker Ashley Williams and rose unchallenged to head home Ozil’s corner.
The Swans seemed to respond well to going behind and three times in quick succession, Cech was called into action and subsequently justified so many labelling him the league’s signing of the season.
First the former Chelsea man bravely denied Andre Ayew from Montero’s low cross, then was at full stretch to push away Sigurdsson’s driven shot.
From the resultant corner, Cech then clawed Ki’s looping header away from danger.
As the home side pressed, the Gunners themselves looked threatening on the break with the ever present Alexis Sanchez a constant danger – but when their second goal did come, it was anything but free flowing.
After Sanchez had seen his free kick half cleared, Bellerin’s speculative cross deflected off the head of Williams towards Lukasz Fabianski’s goal – and under pressure from Koscielny and Giroud, the keeper fumbled, allowing Koscielny to slot into an empty net.
The goal appeared to incense the Poland No 1, who along with his defenders, clearly felt he had been fouled when jumping for the ball.
Unsurprisingly, both managers later disagreed on whether they felt he had been impeded.
The goal took the sting out of the home side and just four minutes later, Campbell wrapped things up with the third, making no mistake from close range after being teed up by the impressive Ozil.
Home skipper Williams tried to respond when he surged forward only to see his low left footed shot pushed away by Cech – but it was the visitors who dominated possession late on as they comfortably saw out the closing stages.
“It’s strange as there are many positives to take from today, especially the first half performance, but ultimately we’ve lost 3-0 and that’s disappointing,” said Monk afterwards.
“I think the score flatters them a bit but we didn’t take our chances – you have to score when you’re on top against sides like Arsenal.
“We made individual errors for their first two goals and I feel like we handed them the win today.”
Wenger meanwhile, whose side were only denied going top of the table by Manchester City’s late win over Norwich, admitted he was delighted.
“It’s always a difficult game here and Swansea beat us twice last season so we were edgy to start with.
“They showed their quality in the first half and it was difficult for us. But then we upped our tempo, pace and concentration in the second half and once we scored we were dominant.”
Swansea City: Lukasz Fabianski, Kyle Naughton, Ashley Williams (capt), Federico Fernandez, Neil Taylor, Andre Ayew, Jonjo Shelvey, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-Yueng (Leon Britton 86), Jefferson Montero (Modou Barrow 79), Bafetimbi Gomis (Eder 86).
Subs not used: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Angel Rangel, Jack Cork, Kyle Bartley.
Arsenal: Petr Cech, Franci Coquelin, Per Mertesacker (capt), Laurent Koscielny, Hector Bellerin, Joel Campbell (Kieran Gibbs 84), Mesut Ozil (Alex Iwobi 90+2), Santi Cazorla, Nacho Monreal, Oliveri Giroud (Calum Chambers 84), Alexis Sanchez.
Subs not used: Matt Macey, Mathieu Debuchy, Gabriel, Mathieu Flamini.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Assistant referees: Edward Smart and Harry Lennard.
Fourth official: Andy Davies.