Swansea City's Michu leaves Arsenal down and Arsène Wenger in despair

Arsene Wenger

This was intended to be the beginning of Arsenal's comeback, a riposte to the statisticians who had been totting up the verdict on the north London club's season so far and reached a gloomy conclusion: the worst points return of the Wenger era.

Nevermind the two disappointing draws on the road, Arsenal been hadn't getting any joy at home – just three wins from nine home games in the league this season. Now Swansea – the first of four home games this month – presented a significant opportunity to correct a bad habit and close the points gap on the table leaders.

But for a genius £2m signing in Michu, the kind of signing Wenger himself likes to make, Arsenal might just have escaped with their third consecutive draw of the week, but just two minutes before the end the Spaniard took his formidable goal tally this season to 10...and then 11.

The floppy fringed 26-year-old sending the travelling fans into ecstasy with two runaway efforts that left Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny on his own against the in-form striker. In such a position, there was no doubt that Michu would profit.

The match had been billed as the prettiest fixture of the day, Swansea having matched Arsenal's smooth passing aesthetic all season long under new manager Michael Laudrup, continuing his predecessors' good work. But it was Laudrup's side who best exhibited the Arsenal mantra: Victory through Harmony, with Swansea stroking the ball around the Arsenal half as though on their own home turf. Swansea made their intend clear early on, as Angel Rangel forced Szczesny into a double save after quarter of an hour while Itay Shechter dispossessed Theo Walcott just outside of the area — a threat which came to nothing in the end but contributed to the inexplicable shaky feeling in Wenger's side.

Cazorla and Podolski both had chances to score but Swansea had the more definitive chances — Michu's flick on prompting Nathan Dyer to run half the length of the pitch, shrugging off challenges from a back peddling Arsenal line with only the captain Thomas Vermaelen, the last man in defence, saving the home team's blushes with a crucial intervention, before Ashley Williams' free kick skimmed the roof of the net.

Arsenal opened the second half with more confidence, the game springing into life as Cazorla forced Tremmel into making a save and the home team congregated in Swansea's penalty area. But, despite the renewed energy, Arsenal could not dominate — Rangel's finesse on display as he took on three players before forcing Szcezesny into a great save.

The crowd got to their feet shouting for a penalty as substitute Olivier Giroud was floored by Swansea's last man, but he had already steered the ball to safety, Mark Clattenburg waving on play and pinching two fingers together to indicate the tightest of margins.

Minutes from the end and the biggest man on the pitch, Ashley Williams, played a dainty one-two that almost snatched Swansea the points, before a Vermaelen header gave Arsenal fans renewed hope. But it was not to be.

Michu only needed two chances to level the hosts. Wenger could only look on, in despair.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Anna Kessel at the Emirates Stadium, for The Observer on Saturday 1st December 2012 17.03 Europe/London

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image: © Matt and Kim Rudge

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