Swansea managed a famous victory over Arsenal and complete a season’s double over the in-form Gunners in a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at the Emirates.
Bafetimbi Gomis stole in with five minutes to go to head the ball over the line of David Ospina’s goal, awarded with the help of goal-line technology.
It summed up an incredibly tempestuous night for Arsene Wenger’s side who have now opened the door on potentially finishing in fourth place once again and a Champions League qualification match in August.
The less we say about the first half, the better. The weather was hot, balmy, sun setting in north London but it was as if Swansea thought they were actually on the beach in the Seychelles. Their lack of effort was shocking.
The biggest compliment one could make is it was a half of football Jose Mourinho would have loved – but shame about the rest of us.
Swansea looked as if the threat of Europa League football – and the potential travails of a merry nine-month jaunt around eastern Europe might have on their Premier League status – had sapped them of their ambition. Perhaps in the spirit of the recent general election the Swans were taking a more Conservative approach.
Arsenal were no better. Pretty and concise passing may-be, and almost 70 per-cent of first half possession, but little to be done with it. At times it was like watching a Newton’s cradle go back and forth. Serene. Peaceful. Soothing. Seemingly never-ending.
Only snapping out of the hypnosis when Olivier Giroud or Alexis Sanchez crumpled to the ground after a number of particularly robust challenges from the Welsh side.
The crowd were similarly not impressed with one punter audibly heard to shout on the half hour mark: “Come on Arsenal, I could be at home watching Eastenders.” Quite.
It took almost 50 minutes but Arsenal finally put some semblance of a move together, with Hector Bellerin getting in behind a dozing Montero to blast in a near post cross that Giroud just could quite reach under pressure from both Swansea centre-halves.
Arsenal finally arrived at the Emirates after about 60 minutes – traffic must have been murder on Holloway road. Slick, intricate passing between Ozil and Sanchez saw the German tee up Giroud but his tree-trunk of a left leg could only carve the ball into the comfortable grasps of ex-Gunners man Lukasz Fabianski.
A number of efforts came and went as the Gunners huffed and puffed but failed to blow Swansea’s house down.
Fabianski was tormentor in chief, blocking efforts from Walcott, Cazorla and even Nacho Monreal. If he’d showed the same ability during his time at the Emirates perhaps he wouldn’t have found himself playing second fiddle to Wojciech Szczesny all those years.
How Arsenal failed to score just 13 minutes from time should be the subject of an inquiry. An incredible save from Alexis Sanchez who somehow found himself free in the box was repelled before Theo Walcott need only curve it round the floored keeper yet he elected to hit it straight at the Pole.
Incredibly, against all the odds, Swansea scored with five minutes to go after substitute Bafetimbi Gomis headed a shot goalwards from a rare foray forward for the Swans.
To the naked eye it looked as if David Ospina had clawed it clear of the line but Kevin Friend signalled the ball had crossed the line under consultation from goal-line technology.
Arsenal toiled for the remaining five minutes but – as had been their wont all night – hit the ball too close to Fabianski or he clawed it from the air and they failed to get the clear cut chance they needed.
It ended 1-0 to the Swans, perhaps adding extra significance to the Gunners’ trip to Old Trafford at the weekend. A win for United would put them a point ahead of Arsenal, but the north London side do still have a game in hand.