The Arsenal crowd rose at the end of the match to applaud off a team that had played stylish, intelligent football of the type so often seen here and at Highbury – and how they must have wished it was their own rather than Swansea City that had played it. Michael Laudrup's team, assembled for a fraction of the cost of Arsene Wenger's, controlled the game, made the better chances, stayed patient and won deservedly with two late goals from Michu, the coolest man in the ground as passions off the field ran high.
Pre-match protests outside the Emirates Stadium by around 1,000 fans were expressly aimed at the Arsenal board and their financial governance of the club rather than Wenger. But the boos at the final whistle make it clear that disaffection with the manager is also growing among a significantly larger section of the Gooner nation.
The silent majority will be relieved to know that Wenger has no intention of stepping down despite Arsenal's worst start to a Premier League campaign under the Frenchman and one of their worst home performances under him. Swansea became the third team to win at the Emirates this season after Chelsea and Schalke 04, while Sunderland and Fulham have also taken points.
Wenger, though, remains convinced that the team can recover. “I believe it's a chance to stick together and show we are a strong club,” he said. “I believe support from the board is there if we find the right players. I can understand [the boos]. At home we haven't produced the performances you would expect from us. But we are in this job to turn it round and I'm confident we will because of the quality of the players and the spirit in the team.
“I thought we could be jaded because we've played a lot of hard games and it was like that. We were not good – laboured, not sharp, we had a lot of possession but not going anywhere. I thought we should have had a nil-nil but we were not cautious. We lacked incisiveness and creativity.” And Swansea deserved to win? “Yes. It is frustrating but it is the truth.”
Swansea, unbeaten in six matches, were as good as Arsenal were poor, and went above the Londoners in the Premier League table. Anyone who doubted whether they could repeat last season's successes has their answer. “Obviously I'm happy to win here and with the week in general – seven points in six days against Liverpool, West Bromwich and now Arsenal, and three great performances,” Miachael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, said. “You could see that the team is playing with a lot of confidence. We looked comfortable even knowing that we had a good team in front of us.”
Not yesterday, they didn't. Theo Walcott, who is reported to believe he is worth £100,000 a week was anonymous on his 100 start for Arsenal, shown up by Swansea players on a fraction of that income. Michu, a £2m signing from Rayo Vallecano in summer, has already scored ten league goals which makes him an early candidate for bargain of the season, as Laudrup admitted. “I've heard that a lot,” he said. “A guy who scores that many goals will always be a bargain. But he also works hard.”
He was in good company as Swansea took control. Thomas Vermaelen, the Arsenal captain, had to rescue his team more than once, and Wojciech Szczesny was called upon to pull off a double save from the overlapping Angel Rangel after Sung-Yeung Ki;s clever control had allowed Ben Davies to cross from the left.
Swansea were always more threatening, and also denied Arsenal space as the home side tried to step up their pace and intensity after the break. Even then Gerhard Tremmel had only routiue saves to make from Santi Cazorla and Vermaelen while Szczesny was stretched by Rangel, Michu and Dwight Tiendalli.
Eventually, after 87 minutes, Michu and Moore, under no pressure from defenders, played the simplest of one-twos, leaving Michu clear to bend the ball calmly round Szczesny with his left foot. On the stroke of full time Nathan Dyer chased down Carl Jenkinson, who had earlier been jeered for a misunderstanding with Szczesny, and rather than play a simple safe pass he delayed and was caught. Dyer's touch released Michu again and once more he ran through to beat Szczesny. The Swansea fans sang and the Arsenal supporters who did not leave at that point remained behind to vent their frustration on the final whistle before applauding Swansea back to the dressing room.