Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report of Arsenal's 2-0 win at Swansea City in the Premier League.
By Jack Prescott, Rugby Editor Filed: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 13:59 UK
Last Updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 17:42 UK
Arsenal came into Saturday's Premier League trip to Swansea City knowing that only a win would do to keep their hopes of Champions League football for next season alive.
While there was little to split between the two sides in the first half, goals from Nacho Monreal and substitute Gervinho after the break wrapped up the points for Arsene Wenger's men in a 2-0 victory.
The triumph has lifted the Gunners back into fifth place in the Premier League table, while a second defeat in a row has kept the Swans in ninth position.
Read Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report below to find out how the action unfolded at the Liberty Stadium.
2.02pmHello there and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of this afternoon's Premier League clash between Swansea City and Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium.
2.04pmThis really is one for the football purists today as two teams renowned for their slick, silky play go head to head.
2.06pmArsenal start the match five points off the Champions League places, but a win today could cut fourth-placed Chelsea's advantage to two points. A draw for the Gunners wouldn't be the end of the world today, but they really need a victory if they are to keep their quest for Champions League football going.
2.09pmOf course, Arsene Wenger's side were knocked out of European club football's top competition on Wednesday night with an away-goals defeat to Bayern Munich. However, their 2-0 victory at the Allianz Arena may well have given them a confidence boost going into the final part of the season. The Gunners were desperately unlucky to exit the tournament having played Munich off the park on their own turf.
2.10pmWe should have some team news coming up for you with early reports suggesting the Arsenal have made three changes to their starting lineup...
2.12pmSWANSEA: Vorm; Rangel, Williams, Monk, Davies; Britton, de Guzman, Ki, Dyer; Hernandez, Michu
2.15pmThe Gunners have indeed made three changes to their starting lineup as Nacho Monreal, Abou Diaby and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all come in. However, Thomas Vermaelen remains on the bench for the visitors after he was left out of their win in Munich.
2.17pmMeanwhile, Swansea have brought in three new faces in the form of Leon Britton, Nathan Dyer and Pablo Hernandez.
2.22pmInteresting call again from Wenger to leave out Vermaelen, but you'll also notice the absence of Wojciech Szczesny in goal. Lukas Fabianksi did a stellar job between the sticks in midweek and he has been trusted to do the business again today.
2.25pmLooking at the Swansea team and manager Michael Laudrup has made a few minor tweaks following his team's defeat at West Brom. Nathan Dyer is sure to cause Arsenal problems today, while Leon Britton is in there to keep things moving for the home side. Pablo Hernandez will provide the lethal Michu with an attacking foil.
2.28pmIt was Michu who scored both of Swansea's goals when they beat Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium earlier this season. The Swans were at their stifling best that day, picking off the Gunners with the ruthlessness of a sniper.
2.32pmLet's not forget that Wales is also the main focus in the rugby world today as England travel to the Millennium Stadium later today to take on the Welsh in a Six Nations decider. The fans inside the Liberty Stadium for this match are sure to be pumped up and would love to do the double over the English.
2.35pmThere have only been nine meetings between these two sides following their first encounter in 1981, but it's been evenly matched in those 32 years with both teams winning four games each and drawing one.
2.38pmThree of those games have already take place this season. A thrilling 2-2 draw was played out at the Liberty Stadium in the FA Cup third round back at the start of January before Arsenal won the replay on their own patch 1-0. The other fixture was of course that 2-0 victory for the Swans at the Emirates.
2.42pmUPDATE: The full-time whistle has just gone at Goodison Park and Everton have beaten Manchester City 2-0 thanks to goals from Leon Osman and Nikica Jelavic. If Manchester United defeat Reading this afternoon then Sir Alex Ferguson's men will extend their advantage at the top of the table to 15 points with nine games remaining.
2.44pmYou can read our match report here to find out how the action unfolded on Merseyside.
2.47pmWhile Manchester United fans might well be leaping about following news of that result, it doesn't make quite such good reading for Arsenal. They now start this game in sixth place, one point behind Everton.
2.50pmAround 10 minutes to go until this one gets underway!
2.56pmThe players are lined up in the tunnel ready to go for this one. They should be emerging onto the pitch shortly.
0 minHere we go then, it will be Swansea to get this one going...
2 minA fairly even opening couple of minutes at the Liberty Stadium as both sides look to get forward. Arsenal win a corner, but Giroud can only loop his ambitious header over the crossbar.
4 minHernandez gives a little shimmy of the hips to work himself some space before laying the ball off to Dyer on the edge of the area. The midfielder takes a touch to settle himself, only to blast the ball high and wide. A promising attack for Swansea there.
5 minOFF THE BAR! So close for Arsenal! Oxlade-Chamberlain powers into the Swansea area and smashes the bar with his side-footed effort. Great play from the winger.
7 minReal end-to-end stuff at the moment. Hernandez tries to wriggle his way into the Arsenal box before Diaby's searching pass nearly finds Giroud deep inside the Swansea half with the home side committed upfield.
9 minThe hosts work the ball out wide to Davies, but the full-back's cross isn't a good one and drifts past Fabianski's far post. Typical build-up from Swansea there with some confident, dynamic passing.
12 minCHANCE! Nearly a superb goal for Swansea as a wonderful passing move sees Ki thread a final ball through to Rangel, but he can only fire wide of goal with Koscielny in attendance.
14 minMichael Laudrup's side must have put together 20-odd passes there as they had Arsenal chasing shadows. Meanwhile, Michu tries a spectacular volley on the edge of the area that floats harmlessly wide. Swansea are very much on top now.
17 minCHANCE! Another great opportunity comes Swansea's way to take the lead. Jenkinson fails to clear his lines in defence and Hernandez eventually finds Michu lurking in the area. The Spaniard does brilliantly to control the ball before turning and shooting narrowly wide.
20 minArsenal fashion their first crack at goal in about 10 minutes as Cazorla's fizzing half-volley from 25 yards stings the palms of Vorm. An foot or two either side of the goalkeeper and that would have probably gone in.
22 minA section of the Swansea fans sing "Champions League? You're having a laugh" towards their Arsenal counterparts and you can't blame them. At the moment, the Gunners look a shadow of the team that outplayed Munich in Germany on Wednesday.
24 minJust as I write that, some indecision in the Swansea defence gives Walcott the opportunity yo get a shot away, but a couple of defenders put him off.
26 minBOOKING: De Guzman gets a yellow card for a cynical trip on Cazorla on the edge of the box.
27 minThe resulting free kick is in a very good position indeed. However, Walcott whacks it into the wall and Swansea clear. It's safe to say that there are still plenty of Arsenal fans out there who are baffled by Walcott taking the team's free kicks.
30 minThis is certainly Arsenal's best spell of the game right now. They're picking up all of the pieces in midfield, beating Swansea to the ball every time. Cazorla in particular is looking threatening for the visitors.
32 minJenkinson whips in a devilish cross out on the right, but Walcott can't quite get to it. If the England international was a foot taller then maybe he could have nodded that towards goal.
34 minClose call from the linesman as Michu is flagged offside following Ki's pass. The striker's shot was kept out with a low save from Fabianski, but it wouldn't have counted anyway. Like a grown man of 26, Michu throws the ball down in anger at the decision.
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36 minOxlade-Chamberlain will be disappointed with himself there. A poor touch inside the area sees the ball leave his control when he had already got on the wrong side of the defender. There were players waiting in the middle, too.
38 minThe rain is coming down thick and fast in Swansea, but it's not having an adverse effect on the football. Both teams continue to zip the ball around.
40 minFive minutes of normal time left in this first half and it's still goalless between the two sides. We've had chances at both ends, but some disappointing finishing means that the score is 0-0.
44 minOFF THE BAR! Incredible! Oxlade-Chamberlain rattles the woodwork for the second time in the match with a powerful long-range drive. What a goal that would have been!
3.50pmReferee Jon Moss blows the half-time whistle to end an entertaining, but goalless, opening 45 minutes of football between Swansea and Arsenal.
3.54pmThe home side started very strongly indeed, but the Gunners finished in the ascendancy. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had the visitors' best chances in front of goal but he hit the crossbar twice at the start and end of the half.
3.58pmWhile we all digest that opening half of football, let's check on the other half-time scores from the Premier League...
46 minThe players are back out and it will be Arsenal to start this second half...
47 minDiaby gets an early shot away for the visitors, but his ambitious 20-yarder floats comfortably over the bar.
49 minArsenal have come out fighting in this second period. They've had a couple of corners already that the hosts have manage to clear. Swansea are yet to get going.
51 minCHANCE! Quick feet from Cazorla allow the Spaniard to have a crack at goal from the edge of the box and Vorm gets down to make the save.
55 minCHANCE! Arsenal threaten again, this time through Diaby. The midfielder makes a marauding run into the Swansea area, but his final touch lets him down and the ball runs out of play.
57 minMichu hasn't been at his liveliest today and a rare attempt at goal sees the sail over the bar from 18 yards.
59 minCLOSE! Hernandez almost opens the scoring for Swansea with a powerful drive from 25 yards. The forward did well to cut inside onto his right foot before launching his effort narrowly wide of Fabianski's post. The goalkeeper just watched that one fly past him.
62 minGiroud gets a talking to from the referee for clipping the heels of De Guzman after the ball had gone. The French striker is having a very quiet afternoon indeed in front of goal.
65 minIt's all getting a touch physical out there now. Davies and Monreal have a little tussle for the ball, the pair battling away in the rain. One or two other challenges flying in elsewhere.
66 minSUBSTITUTION: Swansea make the change and it's Wayne Routledge who is coming on for Ki Sung-Yueng.
69 minThe change has done little to quell Arsenal as the visitors continue to pour forward. However, the final touch keeps letting them down.
71 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Arsenal make to changes now as Aaron Ramsey and Gervinho replace Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby. Ramsey, who started his career with Cardiff City, gets a suitably hostile reception from the Swansea fans.
73 minGervinho looks to make an instant impact as he makes a run down the left side, but his pass to Cazorla waiting in the middle is a poor and and gets cut out by the Swansea defence. Cue groans from the Arsenal fans.
75 minThe Gunners lead and it's Nacho Monreal with what could be a priceless goal! Cazorla's cutback was miscontrolled by Giroud in the area, but Monreal was there to see his low finish creep into the far corner.
76 minSUBSTITUTION: Swansea make their second change as Luke Moore comes on for Nathan Dyer.
78 minGoing back to the goal: Giroud actually got in the way of Ramsey, who was better placed for the shot in the area, but it turned out for the best as Monreal fired in.
81 minSwansea captain Williams is getting a bit of a talking too from the referee, but it's unclear what that's for. The defender looks as bemused as anyone. Just under 10 minutes of normal time to play. Can Arsenal hold on?
82 minBOOKING: Arteta goes into the book for a trip on Hernandez. The Arsenal skipper knew exactly what he was doing there.
83 minCHANCE! Some sections of the home crowd are cheering because they think that De Guzman's free kick has beaten Fabianski, but the ball has actually hit the sidenetting. It was a great strike from the midfielder, mind.
90+2 minGame, set and match. Arsenal launch a quick counter-attack that Swansea simply can't deal with as Gervinho calmly slots past Vorm having been picked out by fellow substitute Ramsey. The fourth official indicates that there will be three minutes of added time.