Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal face a difficult test at Swansea City on Sunday.
The ‘Gunners’ travel to Wales hoping to bury the disappointments of Tuesday’s Uefa Champions League draw with Anderlecht once and for all, as they look to bridge the gap between them and leaders Chelsea.
Arsenal have won three of the last five meetings between the two side’s, drawing the other two 2-2. Serge Gnabry grabbed his first Arsenal goal and Aaron Ramsey sealed a 2-1 win the last time Arsenal visited the Liberty Stadium.
But things are looking lively for sixth-placed ‘Swans’ after ten matches, with only two points separating them from Wenger’s men, who have notched 17 points on fourth place.
“They are a side who have always played well and they are stabilised in the Premier League,” Wenger said. “They have a way to play and when you go to Swansea you know you face a tough opponent.”
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski has been a regular starter in Garry Monk’s side since joining in the summer. The Polish stopper has already a kept clean sheet in five of his ten appearances this season.
The French boss, 65, deemed it fair for Fabianski had wanted a new challenge but said he would have loved that he compete with Wojciech Szczesny for the No 1 shirt.
“I didn’t want to let him go, he was at the end of his contract,” Wenger admitted. “We didn’t sell the player but when you get to 27 or 28 and you’re not a regular first choice, you can understand that a player wants to go.”
Wenger confirmed Jack Wilshere is available for the trip to Swansea after missing two games through illness but revealed Mikel Arteta, who is still recovering having been forced off during the 3-3 UEFA Champions League draw against Anderlecht with a hamstring problem, will not feature.
He revealed that Theo Walcott, who made his first appearance since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee during Arsenal’s FA Cup third-round win against Tottenham in January as a substitute in last weekend’s 3-0 win over Burnley, “is ready to play again”.
“He has been out for 10 months – I don’t know if you realise how long that is. People think it’s like mechanics,” he said.
“[Players are] not machines, they are human beings and to get back into the rhythm of the top, top competition will take time.
Wenger added: “He is in the squad.”His ability to start is that if I decide to start him he can start.”