LONDON: Aaron Ramsey went home to Wales and scored his eighth goal in nine appearances as Arsenal beat Swansea 2-1 to enable Arsene Wenger to celebrate his 17th anniversary as manager this week two points clear at the top of the table.
Wenger’s contract expires at the end of the season but indications from the boardroom are that he will be staying on in north London. Mesut Ozil is reported to have been given that assurance during negotiations over his transfer from Real Madrid.
Ozil was below par at Swansea, as if the whirlwind of the past four weeks had caught up with him. But his fellow countrymen made amends.
Per Mertesacker was solid at the back and Serge Gnabry came up with his first league goal to open the scoring in the 58th minute (Thomas Eisfeld, who scored his first Arsenal goal against West Bromwich the League Cup in midweek, was omitted).
After a row start against Stoke, Gnabry has raised his game to match the confidence Wenger has shown in him to fill the right-side gap left by injury to Theo Walcott.
Wenger said: “It’s very seldom that a young boy of 17 has the body to cope with the impact and the duels in the Premier League. For example, we have some other boys who have the technical quality but are not resistant enough yet to compete physically. But he was ready to do that.
“He has the quality to be creative because he can dribble, he can run with the ball, he can be a good passer and he is a great finisher.”
In the closing minutes of the first half Gnabry created one opening for Olivier Giroud then he put Arsenal in front after the break. England midfielder Jack Wilshere sparked the move which led to goals for both Gnabry and then Ramsey.
Gnabry’s goal made him, at 18 years and 76 days, the second youngest Premier scorer for Arsenal behind Cesc Fabregas (17 years 113 days).
Ben Davies popped up with a late goal for Swansea but they could not deny Arsenal equalling their club record of eight successive away wins. The Premier record for consecutive away wins is 11, set by Chelsea in 2008.