Swansea City-Arsenal Preview
LONDON (SE) - Michael Laudrup insists there will be no pressure on his Swansea City side when they visit the Emirates Stadium for Saturday's clash with Arsenal.
Laudrup's surprising Swans are in eighth place on 20 points - one point behind the Gunners. Swansea City travel to London after two strong performances at home - a 0-0 draw with Liverpool on Sunday and a 3-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday.
"We go there with no pressure and we can surprise people," Laudrup told Swansea City's official website. "We have got four points this week which has been a very good return for us."
Arsenal will be looking forward to the comforts of home, where they have not played since a 2-0 victory over French side Montpellier on Nov. 21. The Gunners have drawn consecutive league matches since, 0-0 at Aston Villa last Saturday and 1-1 on Wednesday at Everton.
"It was a very physical game today," manager Arsene Wenger said after the Everton match. "They have shown outstanding spirit to maintain that pace because we played last week Champions League, Saturday away, today away and we needed something special to get at least away with a point."
These teams split league fixtures last season. Arsenal won 1-0 at the Emirates on a goal by Andrei Arshavin before travelling to Wales and losing the reverse fixture 3-2.
Swansea City turned in a slick display of football in that match under Brendan Rodgers, and have remained one of the Premier League's most eye-pleasing clubs under Laudrup.
The Swans had a five-star performance against the Baggies, with Michu and Wayne Routledge scoring in the first 11 minutes, and Routledge adding another in the 39th.
"It was the best I have seen this season and for a long time," Laudrup said. "I don't recall when I last as a manager for a team just enjoying a game like this because as managers you always look at something can happen and always something to improve. But I mean the first half was fantastic."
Another scintillating performance was turned in by summer signing Pablo Hernandez, who assisted on the first two goals and combined well with Routledge and Nathan Dyer.
"Then we had the second line of three small players like I call them - Nathan Dyer, Wayne and Pablo - all three of them have so much quality and playing in tight spaces," Laudrup said. "They really showed some good football."
While Swansea were turning on the style, Wenger's side also got off to a bright start on Theo Walcott's goal in the first minute against the Toffees. Arsenal were outplayed for the remainder of the match, and their boss was happy with the point.
"I think a point is fair as both sides played with high commitment,'' Wenger said. "Everton always looked a threat and we needed good focus and good concentration not to concede a second goal.''
Defender Laurent Koscielny was replaced after four minutes with a groin injury, and will miss three weeks. Kieran Gibbs replaced him.
Wenger made four changes from the weekend Wednesday, with club joint top scorer Lucas Podolski the most notable absence. Laudrup had two changes Wednesday, bringing in Dyer and Ki Sung-Yeung.