Arsenal returned to the top four with a handsome victory at Swansea City, consigning Paul Clement to a demoralising defeat in his first Premier League game in charge of the hosts. Having initially been frustrated by their opponents, the Gunners led at half-time thanks to Olivier Giroud’s powerful, close-range finish. Alex Iwobi’s strike looped in via a big deflection off Jack Cork to double their advantage, and Kyle Naughton scored a second Swansea own goal when he turned another Iwobi shot into his own net. Alexis Sanchez completed the rout to lift Arsenal up to third in the table, while Hull’s win over Bournemouth means Swansea return to the bottom of the table. Despite some encouraging signs early in the game, this was a stark reminder to former Bayern Munich assistant manager Clement of the enormous task he faces to steer the Swans to safety.
By contrast, the ruthless nature of Arsenal’s display – particularly in an extremely one-sided second half – will surely give Arsene Wenger renewed hope of mounting a serious title challenge. The Gunners’ bid for a first title since 2004 had stuttered lately, largely due to an away record of one point from their past three Premier League matches on the road. Although they started slowly against the high-pressing Swans, the visitors settled thanks to a goal from an increasingly reliable source. Giroud started this game with 12 goals from his past 17 shots on target, and the France striker was clinical with his first effort on this occasion, seizing on Mesut Ozil’s blocked header and firing the ball into the roof of the net from six yards. Arsenal took control from that point and a period of concerted pressure early in the second half saw the floodgates open.
There was an element of luck about the second and third goals, but they were no more than the Gunners deserved for their dominance of possession and inventive use of it around the Swansea penalty area. The irrepressible Sanchez finally got in on the act after 73 minutes, volleying in from close range to score his 21st goal in 32 Premier League appearances. Arsenal have scored 27 goals away from home in the Premier League this season, at least five more than any other side. The Gunners have scored four or more goals in four away Premier League games this season, their most in a single campaign since 2002-03. Giroud has scored in each of his past nine starts, netting 11 goals in total. Sanchez has been involved in more goals (21) than any other Premier League player this season (14 goals, seven assists).