Sport Soccer

Monday 20 November 2017

Ramsey drives Arsenal to top


Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium

Joe Lovejoy

Arsene Wenger took charge at Arsenal 17 years ago, almost to the day, and he was entitled to celebrate the anniversary with a glass or two after his impressively resurgent team had regained pole position from Tottenham with their eighth straight win in all competitions.

It seems a long time ago now since defeat against Aston Villa on opening day had the Emirates crowd booing the players off and calling for a change in management. Their attitude has seen a remarkable U-turn these past six weeks and there were no dissenting voices among the travelling 'Gooners' as goals from Serge Gnabry and Aaron Ramsey lifted their team two points clear at the top of the table. The philistines may care to note that Arsenal have now won 13 and lost just one of their last 16 league matches.

Ben Davies pulled a goal back for Swansea in the 81st minute, but the result was the most equitable outcome to a match which only came to life in the second half. Pundits and pros are forever telling us that the Liberty Stadium is a tough venue to come to, but the Welsh side have not won at home in the league this term.

The first half was full of promising passing only for the final delivery to be not quite there. It was typical of a strangely desultory first 45 that the only genuine chance, in added-time, saw Olivier Giroud, set up by Gnabry, shoot wastefully wide from left to right.

The first save of the match was delayed until the 51st minute, and then Gnabry could do no more than shoot straight at Michel Vorm from a problematic angle. His sights set, the young man was back again six minutes later with gratifying success. Played in by Ramsey's short pass, he finished with assurance, steering his shot across Vorm and just inside the right-hand post.

Suddenly, what had been a real slow-burner was well and truly alight, and Arsenal doubled the margin in the 62nd minute. Jack Wilshere won the ball in midfield, launching a sweet-passing break which culminated in Giroud finding Ramsey, who belted the ball in from 12 yards.

Laudrup reacted to adversity by sending on Wilfried Bony and Alejandro Pozuelo, but the force was with Arsenal and they were not about to let the points slip. Nathan Dyer brought a spectacular save from Wojciech Szczesny before Bony's ball over the top enabled Davies to reduce the arrears, but Arsenal subdued the Swans' late rally with minimal discomfort.


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