Arsenal are guaranteed a place in next season’s Champions League but will be anxious to finish in the top three to avoid the dreaded pre-season play-off and secure automatic qualification into the group stages of Europe’s premier knockout competition. Swansea City are the visitors to The Emirates Stadium on Monday evening and coach Gary Monk has worked miracles at the South Wales club to ensure they will finish in the top half of the Premier League.
All the talk around North London this week has been about Arsenal striker Theo Walcott who is expected to sign a new contract at the club in the very near future. Injuries have blighted the 26 –year-old’s career over the past two seasons limiting him to only 21 appearances in this time but coach Arsene Wenger used his midweek press conference to pour praise on the England international stating that he had his “golden years ahead of him”.
Wenger’s only real dilemma ahead of the game is whether to give Walcott a place in the starting XI ahead of French hitman Olivier Giroud, author of 14 goals already this season and looking to surpass last season’s tally of 16 as the campaign heads into the final straight. Whoever Wenger selects to play as the lone striker in his favoured 4-2-3-1 system looks certain to be supported by Welsh international Aaron Ramsey, German play maker Mesut Öziland the season’s outstanding player, Chilean Alexis Sánchez, the club’s top marksman with 16 goals.
Arsenal are unbeaten in the league since their 2-1 defeat away to North London rivals Spurs in early February and have scored in every Premier League game this season apart from their two games against champions Chelsea. Wenger will also be anxious to avenge the 2-1 defeat inflicted on his team by the South Wales club in November.
Swansea come into Monday evening’s game with back to back wins against Stoke City and Newcastle United respectively. A place in next season’s Europa League is still a possibility but coach Gary Monk knows his side must upset the form guide at the Emirates Stadium to have a realistic chance of achieving this.
Swansea City will be without midfielder Wayne Routledge, French striker BafetimbiGomis and defender Kyle Naughton who all look set to miss the rest of the campaign through injury. Monk will look to go head to head with his opposite number lining up with a 4-2-3-1 formation relying heavily on his tough tackling midfield duo JonjoShelvey and Jack Cork to wrestle supremacy from the home side. Goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański will be anxious to impress on his return to the Emirates Stadium.
Our Probable Formations:
Arsenal (126.96.36.199) Ospina; Bellerín, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla; Ramsey, Özil, Sánchez; Giroud
SwanseaCity (188.8.131.52) Fabiański; Àngel Rangel, Fernández, Williams, Jordi Amat; Cork, Shelvey; Dyer, Sigurðsson, Montero, Oliveira