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Dublin: -2°C Saturday 17 April 2021

Mkhitaryan makes Arsenal debut but Gunners handed embarrassing defeat by Swansea

Arsene Wenger watched his side go down 3-1 to the Welsh side at the Liberty Stadium, while West Ham drew 1-1 with Crystal Palace.

Swansea goalscorer Jordan Ayew (right) with Sam Clucas (centre) and Martin Olsson.
Swansea goalscorer Jordan Ayew (right) with Sam Clucas (centre) and Martin Olsson.
Image: Nick Potts

SAM CLUCAS SCORED twice as Swansea City moved out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 3-1 victory over Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium.

Bottom of the table prior to kick-off — Carlos Carvalhal’s Swans followed up their 1-0 triumph over Liverpool by beating another heavyweight on home soil, with the result lifting them up to 17th.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s potential arrival has dominated the conversation around the Gunners recently, but Arsene Wenger now has another on-pitch aberration to digest.

Arsenal even took the lead thanks to Nacho Monreal’s fourth league goal of the season, only to concede an equaliser just a minute later when Clucas coolly converted a one-on-one opportunity.

A shocking error from Petr Cech, who scuffed a clearance straight to scorer Jordan Ayew, gifted Swansea the chance to go ahead just after the hour mark.

Despite utilising both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud off the bench, the Frenchman perhaps playing for Arsenal for the last time as Chelsea reportedly plot a late bid, the visitors’ fate was sealed when Clucas slammed home a loose ball in the 86th minute, meaning the travel-sick Gunners have now picked up just 13 points on the road this season.

Swansea City v Arsenal - Premier League - Liberty Stadium Henrikh Mkhitaryan (centre) made his Arsenal bow as a second-half substitute. Source: David Davies

After ringing the changes for Saturday’s FA Cup draw away at Notts County, Carvalhal unsurprisingly reverted back to the same starting XI that had ended Liverpool’s 18-game unbeaten run.

Alfie Mawson grabbed the winner against Jurgen Klopp’s side and came close to finding the net again in the opening minutes, Aaron Ramsey diving in to make a crucial block at the back post just as the centre-back seemed certain to convert Nathan Dyer’s low cross.

Instead, Arsenal grabbed the opening goal against the run of play. Given time and space on the right, Mesut Ozil picked out the run of Monreal with a floated cross to the back post that the latter converted on the half-volley.

However, the lead didn’t last long. Ozil was involved in the game’s second goal too, losing possession inside his own half to spring Swansea onto the attack. Mawson’s pass allowed Clucas to run clear of the Arsenal defence before slotting low beyond the advancing Cech.

With the visitors struggling to create much in the early stages of the second half, Wenger sent on Mkhitaryan on the hour mark, but the Armenian hadn’t touched the ball before his side fell behind in embarrassing fashion.

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Cech made a complete mess of clearing Shkodran Mustafi’s square pass to present Ayew with a gift.

The goalkeeper connected with nothing but air as he swung his left foot at the ball, resulting in it striking his standing leg and dribbling perfectly into the path of the Swansea forward.

Ayew wasted a glorious chance to put Swansea further ahead in the 71st minute, firing wide with his left foot, but the miss didn’t prove costly in the final reckoning, as Clucas made sure with a firm finish from six yards out.

West Ham United v Crystal Palace - Premier League - London Stadium West Ham captain Mark Noble celebrates his penalty. Source: Adam Davy

Meanwhile, Mark Noble scored his 50th goal for West Ham to earn David Moyes’ side a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace that edged the Hammers into the top half of the Premier League table.

Captain Noble levelled the match with a well-taken taken penalty late in the first half after Christian Benteke had put Palace ahead in a scrappy but entertaining London derby.

All eyes at London Stadium were on Joao Mario as the Inter loanee made his Premier League debut and he showed flashes of the kind of composed creative play that Javier Hernandez thrives upon.

Indeed, the two men combined in the build-up to Hernandez winning the penalty and Portugal international Joao Mario seemed to grow in confidence as West Ham sought a decisive second goal.

But Roy Hodgson’s Palace, who lost 4-1 to Arsenal in their last Premier League outing, defended resolutely and aside from an injury to Bakary Sako will have been pleased with their evening’s work.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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