Theo Walcott scored twice as 10-man Arsenal won their sixth Premier League game in a row, despite a spirited Swansea City display in Bob Bradley’s first match as manager.
Gunners and England forward Walcott now has five goals in eight games, taking advantage of a heavy Jordi Amat touch for his first and a poor Jack Cork header for his second.
The Swans looked dejected after the quick-fire double, though Gylfi Sigurdsson pounced on a Granit Xhaka error to curl in and give them hope before the break.
Mesut Ozil volleyed an Alexis Sanchez cross into the top corner to restore a two-goal lead for the hosts, but substitute Borja Baston tapped in a cross from the impressive Modou Barrow to set up a tense finale.
Arsenal saw Xhaka sent off for a petulant trip and despite seeing Walcott squander two late chances, they held on as Swansea equalled their worst start to a league season.
Walcott’s purple patch
The Welsh side are in the bottom three and winless since the opening day of the season – but it would be wrong to be overly negative about this display.
In truth, they had not been stretched by their hosts early on and it was two defensive lapses which left them with a mountain to climb.
Walcott was on hand from close range to punish them and he has now scored as many goals in eight outings as he did in all 28 of his Premier League appearances last season.
The 27-year-old has only ever reached double figures once in a league season, scoring 14 times in the 2012-13 campaign.
But he seemed hungry in front of goal, with six shots – a game high – and showed instinct to sense Amat would have difficulty dealing with a bouncing ball, allowing him to prod the opener.
Walcott’s approach play was also sharp – completing 92% of his passes – and he worked hard too, with only Santi Cazorla and Hector Bellerin covering more ground for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Late on he missed two one-on-one chances for his hat-trick, the first of which saw him strike the post and watch as the ball rolled agonisingly back across the goalline.
Bradley gives Swansea bite
Walcott’s late misses were among 16 Arsenal shots – but Swansea managed 13 themselves.
In their previous away fixture against Southampton in September, they managed just six, so there was an undoubted intent on show in Bradley’s first game.
The Premier League’s first American manager has talked of a “fresh start” for everyone at the club.
Barrow, who has been out on loan twice since joining in 2014, clearly sought to impress as he constantly outwitted Nacho Monreal to deliver crosses, most notably when picking out Borja who finished from 10 yards.
His energy and drive perhaps summed up Swansea’s spirit. Yes, they look at risk in the bottom three – but in acting early in the campaign, the club’s hierarchy have given Bradley plenty of time to get right things.
He may not have been able to match former Swans managers Michael Laudrup, Garry Monk and Francesco Guidolin in winning at Emirates Stadium, but the visiting supporters should leave with optimism.
Xhaka madness, Wenger optimism…
Xhaka was Arsenal’s main negative during what was at times a thrilling encounter. His error for Sigurdsson’s excellent finish gave Swansea a footing, his late kick on Barrow almost put his side under more pressure than they could take.
Wenger said the foul warranted a “dark yellow” card and admitted it “made it difficult for us” after watching his goalkeeper Petr Cech save headers from Leroy Fer and Federico Fernandez late on.
The erratic display by his £35m signing may prompt concern, but Wenger should be pleased to see what he called “good solidarity” to hold on for the win.
The recent international break marked 20 years at the club for the Frenchman. With his contract up in the summer, how many more chances will he have to guide Arsenal to their first title since 2004?
The way they dug in for victory perhaps shows the grit needed to end the wait.
Man of the match – Theo Walcott
What they said…
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “I have some mixed feelings because it looked at some points comfortable and then it never was.
“We finished with good solidarity and we made it over the line.”
Swansea manager Bob Bradley: “That game had many different parts. We started poorly. Defensively the first two goals were not handled well, but we gave ourselves a real chance.
“We are confident we can turn this around. After the week of training we have just had and the mentality of the team, for me we are going to become a good team.”
Arsenal face Bulgarian side Ludogrets in the Champions League on Wednesday (19:45 BST kick-off) before hosting Middlesbrough at 15:00 next Saturday. Swansea will look to end their run of seven league games without a win when they host Watford next Saturday (15:00).
- 29XhakaBooked at 70mins
- 11ÖzilSubstituted forGibbsat 83′minutes
- 17IwobiSubstituted forCoquelinat 68′minutes
- 7SánchezSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 82′minutes
- 9Pérez Martínez
- 3TaylorBooked at 48mins
- 17BarrowSubstituted forRangelat 83′minutes
- 7BrittonSubstituted forGonzález Tomásat 60′minutes
- 24CorkSubstituted forKi Sung-yuengat 71′minutes
- 4Ki Sung-yueng
- 5van der Hoorn
- 10González Tomás
- Jonathan Moss
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Arsenal 3, Swansea City 2.
Second Half ends, Arsenal 3, Swansea City 2.
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain following a fast break.
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Leroy Fer (Swansea City).
Offside, Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Theo Walcott.
Attempt saved. Federico Fernández (Swansea City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Angel Rangel with a cross.
Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Héctor Bellerín.
Foul by Theo Walcott (Arsenal).
Jordi Amat (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Leroy Fer (Swansea City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kyle Naughton with a cross.
Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Dangerous play by Wayne Routledge (Swansea City).
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain following a fast break.
Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Laurent Koscielny.
Substitution, Swansea City. Angel Rangel replaces Modou Barrow because of an injury.
Substitution, Arsenal. Kieran Gibbs replaces Mesut Özil.
Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaces Alexis Sánchez.
Offside, Arsenal. Mesut Özil tries a through ball, but Alexis Sánchez is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Modou Barrow with a cross.
Attempt missed. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.
Corner, Swansea City. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.
Attempt blocked. Kyle Naughton (Swansea City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Offside, Arsenal. Alexis Sánchez tries a through ball, but Mesut Özil is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Modou Barrow (Swansea City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Wayne Routledge.
Offside, Swansea City. Gylfi Sigurdsson tries a through ball, but Ki Sung-yueng is caught offside.
Foul by Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal).
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Francis Coquelin (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Borja Bastón (Swansea City).
Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ki Sung-yueng (Swansea City).
Offside, Arsenal. Alexis Sánchez tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Swansea City. Ki Sung-yueng replaces Jack Cork.
Delay in match Modou Barrow (Swansea City) because of an injury.
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) is shown the red card.
Foul by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal).
Modou Barrow (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Source: BBC Football Read Original Article: Arsenal hold on to deny Bradley's Swansea