Arsenal was eliminated from this season's Champions League by Bayern Munich Wednesday, despite a valiant road effort. The quest to qualify for next season's marquee tournament continues on Saturday against mid-table Swansea City.
The Gunners currently sit in fifth place, which would be good enough to secure a spot in the Europa League, but they still have their sights on the UCL. They are five points behind skidding Chelsea, which are leaving the door open for Arsenal to snag a coveted top-four spot.
As for Swansea, the highlight of their season was capturing the Capital One Cup. After stunning the Blues in the semifinals, the Jacks left no doubt in a 5-0 victory over Bradford City in the final. They hope that momentum will help carry them to a strong finish.
Here's a look at all the important information for the weekend clash, followed by a group of players to watch and a match prediction.
Where: Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales
When: Saturday, March 16 at 11 a.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Deportes
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Swansea City Player to Watch: Michu
Michu scored twice, once in the 88th minute and then in stoppage time, in the first Premier League meeting of the season between the two squads to earn all three points for Swansea. The late lapse cost Arsenal a point, one which they would love to have right now.
The 26-year-old striker has scored 19 goals in 35 matches across all competitions in his first season with the Jacks. He didn't attract much attention when he arrived at Liberty Stadium from Rayo Vallecano during the summer, but his play sure has turned a lot of heads.
If Swansea are going to sweep the season series with the Gunners, it's going to take another terrific performance from Michu. He's been in a minor slump lately, with no goals in his last two appearances and just three in his past 10.
Arsenal Player to Watch: Wojciech Szczesny
Arsenal need Szczesny to elevate his game down the stretch if they are going to earn a Champions League spot. He's received a bulk of the starts during the campaign, but has been far from a unanimous No. 1 with Vito Mannone also getting a share of the playing time.
While Mannone is a solid backup, Szczesny remains the most talented goalkeeper on the roster. Although he's frustrating to watch at times due to some mental miscues, there's no doubting his ability to steal matches when playing his best.
That's the Szczesny the Gunners need to show up starting on Saturday. The top form he's flashed throughout his stay with the club must become commonplace. A good showing against Michu and Co. would provide the confidence boost he needs for the final few months.
Matchup to Watch: Theo Walcott vs. Swansea back line
After a terrific run of form in late 2012 and the start of 2012, Walcott has gone silent over the past six weeks. The England international hasn't scored since the end of January, a stretch of seven matches, including both legs of the Champions League matchup with Bayern.
While he's still managed to contribute with a couple assists, the Gunners are a much more dangerous squad when he's being assertive in the attacking third. He should be able to find some space against an average Swansea defense.
The Jacks rank in the middle of the pack with 36 goals allowed in EPL play. The group struggled to contain West Brom's Romelu Lukaku last weekend, so Walcott should attack the back line with pace, and it should lead to multiple scoring opportunities.
Arsenal 2, Swansea City 1
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