Swansea City v Arsenal match report: Sensational Swans in dreamland
Arsenal 0, Swansea City 2.
PREDICTABLY, Swansea City's victory at Arsenal triggered an hysterical reaction — and not just on the Emirates Stadium's away end.
Some suggested Arsenal must plough millions of pounds into their squad come the January transfer window, others went as far as calling for Arsene Wenger's head.
There were fan protests before the game about the Arsenal board, and then boos — and expletives — aimed at the manager and his players come full time.
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But amid all the criticism, there was credit for Swansea.
Wenger was honest enough to admit that Michael Laudrup's men had been well worth this breathtaking victory.
Even more notable was the reaction of those Arsenal supporters who were still in their seats after the final whistle, and who were not focusing only on hammering their own team.
Just as had been the case at Anfield last season, Swansea were clapped off by a few thousand home fans.
This was quite something.
Arsenal's followers may have their gripes right now, but no other set of supporters in the Premier League have been treated to the footballing delights they have witnessed since Wenger arrived to overhaul their approach in 1996.
Gooners have seen enough stylish stuff thanks to Henry, Fabregas, van Persie and Co to know good football when they see it.
For a chunk of them to stick around and salute Swansea said everything about the quality of the visitors' performance this weekend.
For the first time since they reached the Premier League, Swansea have beaten one of English football's powerhouses on their own patch.
Admittedly, Arsenal are not firing on every cylinder right now, but Wenger can still field a side dripping with high-end quality.
Swansea have had more significant results on their travels down the years — think Preston '81, Rochdale '03 or Wembley 2011 — but they have had few, perhaps none, more impressive than this.
"I felt we played well — good with the ball and we defend good," said Michu, already a hero of the Liberty after only a few months in Wales.
"And okay, we scored two goals here. It's very difficult."
Michu's English is still a work in progress, but English football comes easily to him.
He was one of numerous star performers in Swansea ranks on Saturday, one of many who stood out during a team performance which will not fade in the memory any time soon.
Michu's two late goals came courtesy of a pair of remarkably cool finishes, the Spaniard stroking the ball home in front of 60,000 as if he was having a kickabout on Langland beach.
The pressure was off Swansea here because of their previous successes this season, but that did not diminish the scale of the occasion.
Michu's composure was laudable, as was Leon Britton's class at the base of midfield and the resilience shown by each member of Laudrup's rearguard.
Swansea were never quite as impressive as they had been in that sparkling first half against West Bromwich Albion last week, but this was another day when performances were delivered across the side.
"We are in a moment where we have a lot of players who are playing at a very high level," Laudrup said.
"You can't play that well with only four or five at the peak of their performance.
"The quality and attitude is there, but it is also about the confidence.
"When you are in a good moment you think you can beat everyone, everywhere. When you are in a bad moment, even if you play the bottom team at home you think it will be tough.
"I think the players feel that they can beat anyone right now, but obviously we know it's not going to happen. We will lose games and there will be days when we play badly."
Happily for Swansea, the disappointing displays have been few and far between of late.
It was only a couple of months ago that Laudrup's team drew at home to Reading to make it five league games without a win.
That sequence included a 3-0 home thumping by Everton, and two fairly lifeless, demoralising defeats at Aston Villa and Stoke.
It would have been almost impossible to imagine then where Swansea are now, up to seventh in the table having lost only once in ten games.
The storm clouds were gathering over the Liberty during the poor run earlier in the season, with plenty suggesting a relegation battle could be on the cards as those stories emerged about an unhappy dressing room.
It was party time behind the door marked AWAY at the Emirates come 5pm on Saturday, with grins all round thanks to this breathtaking success.
Laudrup keeps insisting he is not interested in Swansea's league position, but he will keep getting asked about it if they continue in this form.
This win, after all, lifted Swansea to within three points of Chelsea in third place.
"I really don't know (about the top four)," Laudrup said.
"I am honest when I say I don't look at the table. I only look at the points, and 23 points after 15 games is excellent.
"When we are halfway through we will look at where we are and maybe then we can set a goal for the season, but I don't want to say it now.
"I don't want to make an evaluation now because it can change so quickly."
We wait with bated breath to see where Laudrup sets the bar when his team reach the midway point in the season at Reading on Boxing Day.
In the meantime, everyone else is left speculating on where Swansea might end up this season.
And crucially, right now it seems they will have no problem staying out of the bottom three.
Laudrup has not set staying up as the target, but he took the Swansea job knowing that preserving top-flight status was the primary goal.
"When I arrived everybody talked about relegation," he pointed out.
"People said just fourth from the bottom would have been great, but I never talked about anything.
"I just want to see how many points we have and then we can maybe go for something. The sooner we get to 40 the better, because that's the magic number in the Premier League."
Swansea spent the vast majority of last season wondering whether they would reach the 40-point mark, the tension only easing in the last few weeks of the campaign.
Right now it seems Swansea will ease across the safety line at some point in February or early March.
At this rate, end-of-season pressure will be non-existent in SA1 — unless Laudrup's team are pushing for Europe, of course.
"I always said the fans are allowed to dream," the Dane added.
"That's part of being a fan."
Victory this weekend was the stuff of dreams for Swansea followers.
Arsenal's support may be moaning about their failure to win a trophy since 2004-05, but it is worth remembering that Swansea spent that season in the fourth tier.
Yet here they are now, outplaying Wenger's team on their own patch to leapfrog them in the table.
Swansea might have led before they did — Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Nathan Dyer and Dwight Tiendalli all had genuine chances.
Arsenal's threat was minimal by comparison, with Santi Cazorla's 20-yard volley — which flew too close to Gerhard Tremmel — about as close as they came.
Swansea had to withstand some pressure, particularly in the first chunk of the second half, but for the most part they were the side who looked most likely.
The breakthrough they deserved came two minutes from the end, Michu latching on to Luke Moore's perfect pass before steering sweetly beyond Wojciech Szczesny.
When Dyer's persistence upset Carl Jenkinson in stoppage time, Michu repeated the trick to seal one of the great Swansea wins.