Goalscorers: Robin van Persie 5, Scott Sinclair 16 PEN, Nathan Dyer 57, Theo Walcott 69, Danny Graham 70
Swansea City: Michel Vorm, Neil Taylor, Steven Caulker, Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Leon Britton, Kemy Agustien (Gylfi Sigurdsson 46), Joe Allen, Nathan Dyer (Wayne Routledge 81), Scott Sinclair, Danny Graham (Leroy Lita 90)
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 77), Ignasi Miquel, Alex Song, Aaron Ramsey, Andrey Arshavin (Thierry Henry 63), Yossi Benayoun (Tomas Rosicky 63), Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott
Referee: Michael Oliver, Attendance: 20,409
This match promised plenty and certainly delivered in January 2012. Both sides were not afraid to attack and it turned into a great end-to-end spectacle that produced five goals and a famous victory for Swansea City.
Swansea were in their first season in the Premier League and coping well. Brendan Rodgers had built an entertaining side that were very difficult to beat, especially at the Liberty Stadium. After a dreadful start to their 2011-2012 season which had seen four defeats from their first seven outings, Arsenal had bounced back to be a big part in the equation to finish in the top four. However, they had lost their last away match in the Premier League at Fulham.
It was the visitors’ who were the faster out of the blocks and took the lead after just five minutes. Andrey Arshavin found some space in the Swansea defensive line. His fine pass found Arsenal’s usual goalscoring source, Robin van Persie. The Gunners’ captain shrugged off the attentions of Steven Caulker to score his 18th league goal of a season that ended up with the Dutchman winning the Golden Boot and the PFA Players’ Player of the Year. However, Swansea’s passing movements were overrunning Arsenal at times and Arsene Wenger’s side lost their early control when Aaron Ramsey lazily stuck out a leg in the penalty area. Nathan Dyer went down under the challenge and although Dyer made the most of the contact, referee Michael Oliver correctly awarded the penalty. Scott Sinclair kept his composure to dispatch the penalty past Wojciech Szczesny.
Both teams continued to create chances and it was Swansea, sticking to their manager’s vision who claimed the lead 12 minutes into the second half. The excellent Joe Allen robbed his Welsh international colleague Ramsey of possession in the middle of the park and played in Dyer. The flying winger made no mistake with his finish to score for the third successive match. Wenger responded by taking off the ineffective Arshavin and replacing him with club legend Thierry Henry. Henry was back on a loan deal to help the club’s forwards out in the winter period. Theo Walcott seemed to have been inspired and he drew the Gunners’ level, clipping the ball over Michel Vorm after Johan Djourou’s pass carved the Swansea defence open.
However, parity didn’t last long. With their very next attack, Swansea were back in-front. Gylfi Sigurdsson, making his Premier League debut on-loan from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim played a matchwinning pass. Laurent Koscielny was taken out of the game and as Szczesny showed an indecisive approach to coming out and closing down the angles; Danny Graham raced onto the pass and fired across the dithering goalkeeper. Arsenal pressed for another equaliser but couldn’t find one.
This was Swansea’s first win over their opponents for 20 years and the result took them into the top 10. They eventually finished 11th and by the end of the campaign, champions Manchester City and Liverpool FC had also been beaten at the Liberty Stadium. Arsenal bounced back from this defeat and would finish third in the table but a distant 19 points behind the duelling Manchester clubs.