Arsenal’s chase for the Premier League’s second-place finish took a massive hit on Monday, as the Gunners dropped all three points at home, losing to Swansea City, 1-0, after dominating and controlling the game for 89 of 90 minutes.
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The first half, disjointed as it was, certainly favored the hosts in terms of possession, but at the same time provided plenty of hope to the visitors that in their rare forays forward the Arsenal defense could be toppled.
At halftime, only a pair of Swansea shots — coming from Jonjo Shelvey and Angel Rangel — had been registered as on target. Arsenal’s inability to turn 68 percent of the game’s possession into anything meaningful, unable to break down Swansea’s well-organized defense with Jack Cork sitting just in front of the backline, proved enough to send the two teams into halftime with the score still 0-0.
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Arsenal amped up the pressure considerably in the second half, with Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud each testing goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski twice inside the first 15 minutes, but each time the former Arsenal ‘keeper would either see the ball just wide of the post or turn it round the post himself.
Fabianski made a stunning double save from inside 12 yards, thwarting Sanchez and Theo Walcott three seconds apart. Santi Cazorla was also turned away barely 20 seconds later, as the Spaniard’s side-volley from close range bounced into the waiting arms of Fabianski.
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Arsenal’s onslaught of chances proved futile as Fabianski turned them away time and again, setting up Bafetimbi Gomis to score the game’s only goal in the 85th minute. Gomis headed the ball to David Ospina’s near post, where the Colombian ‘keeper appeared to palm the ball away before it crossed the line, but referee’s watch signaled the whole of the ball had crossed the whole of the line.
With three games to play, Arsenal trail Manchester City by three (nine goals behind on goal difference) with a game in hand.
Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin (Wilshere 67′), Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud (Walcott 69′)
Swansea City: Fabianski, Rangel (Richards 60′), Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Ki (Gomis 74′), Shelvey, Cork, Sigurdsson, Montero, Dyer (Barrow 79′)
Goals: Gomis (85′)