Andrey Arshavin capitalised on a mistake by Swansea keeper Michael Vorm to ensure Arsenal returned to winning ways after the humbling 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.
Arshavin struck in the 41st minute after Vorm rolled a clearance against the legs of team-mate Angel Rangel, allowing the Russia international to finish into an empty net.
With Swansea unable to break their Barclays Premier League scoring duck that now extends to four games, Arsene Wenger’s side held on to claim their first league win of the campaign.
Arsenal manager Wenger has come in for growing criticism this season and three points will ease the pressure at the Emirates Stadium after a miserable start to the campaign.
Wenger reacted to the Old Trafford drubbing by moving swiftly into the transfer market and tying up deals for five new signings before the August 31 transfer deadline.
The international break meant he was forced to wait before fielding his new look line-up and the Gunners manager handed first starts to two of those new faces – Germany centre back Per Mertesacker and former Everton midfielder Mikel Arteta – with Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Park Chu-Young named among the substitutes.
There was no doubt Arsenal needed an injection of fresh ideas after a dismal start and both Arteta and Mertesacker quickly showed they will be an asset in the months to come.
Arteta in particular wasted no time in making himself at home, picking out Aaron Ramsey’s run from midfield in the opening minute and the Wales captain should have done much better than shoot over.
Eight minutes later the Spaniard, operating in a central role behind Robin Van Persie, spotted the striker’s move through the Swansea defence and again created the opening with a threaded pass.
Mertesacker meanwhile added height and composure to the backline although that was not enough to prevent Swansea carving out an excellent early opening that would have brought them the opening goal but for an excellent save from Wojciech Szczseny.
The keeper dived full length to divert Danny Graham’s close-range effort to safety after Nathan Dyer’s low cross had exposed the Arsenal backline.
That disrupted the home side’s early flow, but Wenger’s team still dominated possession although they were guilty of putting Vorm under real pressure.
Theo Walcott broke clear in the 14th minute and sent a scuffed shot past the visiting keeper only for centre back Steven Caulker to recover in time to clear off the line.
But that proved to be a rare moment of danger and Swansea — whose manager Brendan Rodgers was absent on compassionate leave following the death of his father — grew in confidence and started to take the game to Arsenal.
Graham threatened again in the 35th minute when the forward only just failed to connect with Joe Allen’s left win cross and, from Arsenal’s point of view, the match began to follow a familiar pattern.
With confidence fragile after the mauling at the hands of United, Arsenal’s nerves were inevitably going to be tested the longer Swansea stood firm.
Vorm’s error, then, came at the ideal time for Wenger’s side and allowed the London club to reach half time knowing the outcome of the game was in their hands.
There was no sign of danger when the Swansea keeper collected a bouncing ball in his own area but when Vorm rolled the ball against the heels of Rangel, Arshavin was on hand to finish from a tight angle.
Swansea have impressed in many areas of the field this season but they have been weak in front of goal and, having fallen behind, it was always going to be a daunting task to get back on level terms.
They came close in the 53rd minute when Scott Sinclair sent a curling free kick against the crossbar after the winger had been fouled by Laurent Koscielny.
Another late chance fell to Graham but Arsenal held on comfortably for the points.
Premier League Ladder
by Buford Balony