Loss to Swansea leaves Arsenal in third placeLONDON - Arsenal’s title hopes were hit by a second consecutive defeat in the Premier League on Wednesday as relegation struggler Swansea came from a goal behind to win 2-1 at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal had a chance to close on leader Leicester but lost at home to Swansea for the third time in four years to leave Arsene Wenger’s men six points off the top spot in third place.
Joel Campbell opened the scoring for the hosts in a game they dominated, hitting the woodwork three times over the course of the night. But Wayne Routledge and Ashley Williams scored the goals to seal a victory for the visitors that moved them six points clear of the bottom three.
Swansea went into the game without head coach Francesco Guidolin on the bench as he was hospitalized with a chest infection.
And his side, managed on the night by Alan Curtis, survived a near-onslaught on their goal as further profligacy from the home side cost it dear.
Wenger said, “I am not in the mood” to discuss his team’s title chances after the defeat.
Goalkeeper Petr Cech sustained a calf problem and will be absent for Saturday’s trip to title rival Tottenham, with Wenger also confirming that Laurent Koscielny will miss out with a calf problem of his own.
“At the moment I am worrying more about the result,” said Wenger, whose side lost to Manchester United and Barcelona in its previous two matches.
“We’ve just lost three games and that is always a very difficult moment for the team.
“So, at the moment we don’t dream, we have to be realistic and come back to what we do well. And do the basics.”
Olivier Giroud, now without a goal in 10 matches, was one of the main culprits but it was Alexis Sanchez who thrashed against the post with the game’s first clear chance.
Costa Rica international Campbell was back in the side for his first league start in a month, and he opened the scoring after sliding in to convert a pass from Sanchez.
Hector Bellerin then stung the palms of Lukasz Fabianski, who jumped on the loose ball just in front of the onrushing Aaron Ramsey.
Arsenal soon succumbed to the sucker punch as Routledge ran in behind to collect Jack Cork’s pass and slide a shot past Cech to level with Swansea’s first shot on target.
At the other end, Giroud was the next to hit the woodwork - hammering a volley against the crossbar from Per Mertesacker’s header.
The second half began with the same pattern.
Sanchez’s touch still eluded him as he failed to connect with a dangerous set-piece when eight yards out - with Wenger turning to Danny Welbeck from the bench in search of a second goal.
Sanchez hit the frame of the goal for a second time as his free-kick beat Fabianski but shook the crossbar.
Then the body blow to Arsenal’s title ambitions was delivered in scrappy style by defender Williams.
Gabriel fouled Andre Ayew and Sigurdsson’s free-kick was missed by Cech, with the ball bundled home by Swansea skipper William to take the points.
Swansea said 60-year-old Guidolin is in a “comfortable position” and his full recovery is expected within a few days. AP