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Saturday, December 1, 2012
Arsenal falls to Swansea at home

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Swansea condemned Arsenal to a 2-0 Premier League defeat at home as Michu fired in two late goals Saturday at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners had been second best for long spells despite improving after the break, but the Swans earned a reward for their persistence when Michu grabbed a late brace.

Jeers greeted the final whistle at the Emirates, as manager Arsene Wenger's side dropped more points and fell further behind in the battle to break back into the top four.

Despite it being the worst start to a season under his tenure, Wenger insisted all was not lost.

"We are in this job to turn things around, and I am confident we will (because of) the quality of the players and the spirit we have in the team. It is a good moment to stick together," he said. "I am not so much worried about (league) places, even if that is not the place you want to be, but I believe what is important is we get the quality of our game back. Then the places change."

Wenger opted to deploy Gervinho in the central striker role ahead of Theo Walcott, who had netted an early goal in the midweek 1-1 draw at Everton.

However, it was Swansea who was the first to press, with a free kick into the Arsenal penalty area eventually being hacked away by Per Mertesacker.

In the 14th minute, Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a fine double save after Angel Rangel had been played in on the overlap down the right and fired in a low, angled drive with his follow-up effort also blocked by the agile Pole.

Arsenal failed to get any sort of rhythm together in the first 20 minutes, was far too careless in possession and lacked ideas in the final third.

Carl Jenkinson, in for injured right back Bacary Sagna, whipped a cross through the six-yard box, but Gervinho could not make contact.

The hosts finally got some momentum, with Santi Cazorla headed at Swans goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel after another good cross from Jenkinson.

Nathan Dyer suddenly burst clear through on goal from a flick by Miguel Michu, but Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen made up the ground to produce a brilliant sliding block just as the Swansea forward shaped to shoot.

Eight minutes before the break, Michu was bundled over by Mikel Arteta at the edge of the Arsenal penalty area. Jonathan de Guzman whipped his free kick up over the wall, but also the crossbar.

Arsenal offered little in way of attacking threat, and when Podolski did send over a good cross from the left, Gervinho failed to make a clean connection as the ball bounced away to the corner flag -- which just about summed up the first half for the hosts.

"The quality of our game was not there," Wenger said. "It was a bit frustrating because we lacked a bit of decisiveness and creativity. Swansea were more creative, more sharp. It is very frustrating, but it is the truth."

Arsenal emerged with much more vigor in the second half.

Cazorla shot straight at the goalkeeper following good work by Jack Wilshere.

Gervinho's run to the edge of the Swansea box was halted by Chico, but referee Mark Clattenburg waved play on.

There was still threat on the counterattack from Swansea, though, as Rangel got clear again down the right, with Szczesny making another important block at the near post.

With 24 minutes to go, Wenger made a double change as Olivier Giroud and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Podolski and Gervinho.

French striker Giroud was put clean through straight away but was caught by a desperate lunge from Chico -- with referee Clattenburg indicating he felt the Swansea defender got the slightest of touches, much to the disbelief of Wenger.

With 11 minutes left, Wilshere was replaced by Tomas Rosicky, as the injury-plagued Czech midfielder made his first appearance since May.

Swansea created another good opening when substitute Dwight Tiendalli cut into the right side of the Arsenal box, but again Szczesny produced a smart block.

With five minutes left, Vermaelen's flying header just lacked the pace to beat Tremmel.

Swansea, though, took the lead when Michu broke clear after a neat one-two with substitute Luke Moore to slot past Szczesny and leave more questions for Wenger to answer about the character of his side.

It got worse for the Gunners in stoppage time when Michu again latched onto a long clearance, racing through to beat the keeper again.

"There have been three great performances, each better than the (previous) one. The team is playing with a lot of confidence," Swans boss Michael Laudrup said.

Gunners fans backing the "Black Scarf Movement" had demonstrated around the ground before kickoff, complaining at the perceived commercialization of the club following their move to the Emirates.

Wenger maintained he can empathize with the frustrations of supporters but refused to be drawn on the prematch protests.

"It is more down to shareholders and that is not my job," he said. "It's difficult to answer that straight away after a game like that, but I believe the support from the board is there to spend the money if we find the players."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.




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