Swansea City

Coming off victories in the third round of FA Cup play, Arsenal and Swansea continue their premier league campaigns this Sunday at the Liberty Stadium. In their first meeting this season, it was a Michael Vorm error that gifted Arsenal their first victory of the season.

Arsenal will look to improve their away form as they have only collected 13 points from a possible 30. That is 8 less than they had collected from their away travels at this point last season. The task does not get any easier as they face a Swansea side whose home form is a big reason why they sit 12th in the table, 7 points above relegation. In their 10 matches at home so far, Swansea have recorded 6 clean sheets, having only conceded a total of 4 goals.

Arsenal Team News

Francis Coquelin picked up a hamstring injury in Monday’s win over Leeds. He becomes the latest player to be added to Arsenal’s growing defensive woes. His injury likely means Miquel will get the start at left back. Arsene Wenger has spoken about possibly bringing a defender on loan and with Coquelin’s injury that may be sooner rather than later.

While waiting for Arsenal’s FA Cup campaign in the 2011/12 season, a look back at Arsenal’s fairings in third round fixtures of the cup during the Wenger era may ease the nervousness for many Gooners.

Troublesome early years - 1996-1997

Arsene Wenger signed for Arsenal on September 30, 1996, and his first experience with the prestigious British Cup came in a game against Sunderland at Highbury. Wenger got a dream start when John Hartson headed in a Paul Merson cross in the tenth minute, but Sunderland’s Michael Gray put a damper to the spirit when he put in the equalizer to set up a third round replay in Wenger’s first FA Cup campaign. The replay on Sunderland’s Roker Park turned out to be the last FA Cup game on the 100-year-old stadium as two second half goals from Bergkamp and Hughes sent Wegner’s men through to the fourth round of the cup.

Arsenal begin their quest for what will likely be their best chance of glory this season, as they face-off against Leeds United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. With an average Christmas period pretty much eradicating their faint hopes of winning the Premier League, and the formidable test of AC Milan to come in the Champions League, the FA Cup represents the Gunners most realistic chance of ending their six season trophy drought.

Twelve Months On

The quirks of the FA Cup draw has paired together two sides who met at this stage of the competition last season. Leeds were within a hair's breadth of causing a huge upset, as only an injury time penalty from Cesc Fabregas took the game to an Elland Road replay (in which Arsenal won 3-1).

However, this is a much depleted Leeds squad from the one that took to The Emirates 12 months ago. The Yorkshiremen have numerous injuries in defence - a situation with which Arsene Wenger can surely empathise. Alex Bruce and Darren O'Dea are expected to join Patrick Kisnorbo on the treatment table, but what is of greater concern is the absence of captain Jonny Howson and attacking lynchpin, Robert Snodgrass.

After Saturday’s win over Queen’s Park Rangers, Arsenal face a quick turnaround as they face Fulham at Craven Cottage 48 hours later.

The Gunners have reached the top four in the table for the first time this year following their 1-0 victory over QPR.  Though fourth is certainly not the goal, after Arsenal’s tepid start few would argue fourth is a good place to be at the campaign’s midpoint.

Starting the Second Half of the Season

This will be Arsenal’s 20th game of the Premier league campaign, and the first time they will face a team in the Premier League for the second time.  In the two team’s first encounter at the Emirates, the game ended in a 1-1 draw, with Thomas Vermaelen scoring the goal for both teams.  This was a game of missed chances for Arsenal, who saw Fulham score against the run of play and failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities of their own.

After picking up some sort of injury against QPR Saturday, Vermaelen may miss out on a chance to score another against the Cottagers, leaving the Gunners even shorter at the back.  The squad will get even thinner in the coming weeks as Gervinho and Marouane Chamakh will head to the African Nations Cup.  With the transfer window about to be open, Arsene Wenger needs to add to the squad sooner rather than later.

If Arsenal starts the second half of the season like they did the first, the top four may be out of reach.  A win against Fulham is needed keep the momentum going, with Arsenal winning 10 of their last 13 league matches, taking 32 of a possible 39 points.

QPR will be visiting the Emirates on New Year’s Eve after being rejuvenated in the summer after Tony Fernandes took over the club. QPR have made some refreshing signings and have shown glimpses of the potential damage they can do against the likes of Stoke, Chelsea and Everton but have also left fans wanting against ‘weaker’ opposition. Sound familiar? After Arsenal’s disappointing draw against Wolves, The Gunners will hope to bounce back from a potential blip of results that could see them drop further points in the race for the top 4. After seeing Spurs winning so comfortably against Norwich, Wenger’s men have more than enough motivation to get right back on track.

It’s been a while

Arsenal have not met QPR in the league since the 95/96 season where Arsenal won and drew their two fixtures against Rangers. Neither manager was in charge of their respective clubs at the time but the last time Warnock came up against Wenger was the 06/07 season where he was triumphant with his Sheffield United side. A match that could be remembered for Jagielka (yes, the one we tried to sign in the summer) playing in goal for half an hour without being tested once.