Theo Walcott opened the scoring 26 minutes in, before adding a second goal six minutes later from a Mesut Özil corner, however Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled a goal back for the Swans with a curling effort from distance just before the break.
Özil regained Arsenal’s two-goal cushion 10 minutes after the restart with a sweet volley, but Swansea again hit back, as Borja Baston scored his first goal for Swansea 66 minutes in.
Arsenal were reduced to 10 men shortly after, when Xhaka dived in dangerously on Madou Barrow, and Xhaka received his first red card in an Arsenal shirt.
Despite the tense pressure and one less man, Arsenal managed to hold on to the three points, which now sends them to second in the Premier League table.
Fireworks from the start
Both sides started the game brightly. Arsenal were using the creative powers of Özil and Alex Iwobi to break down the resilient Swansea defence, and the visitors were using the pace of Wayne Routledge and Barrow to exploit the Arsenal wings.
Shkodran Mustafi almost gave the Gunners the leader 12 minutes in, when the German connected perfectly with a Özil corner, however the defender’s header smacked off the bar, and out of play for a goal kick.
Leroy Fer was next to open the scoring, when the Dutchman was picked out after a great Swansea counter-attack, however the former QPR player’s side footed effort from outside the box flew harmlessly wide over the bar.
Despite the Swansea pressure, Walcott opened the scoring for Arsenal 26 minutes in. Alexis Sanchez played in Hector Bellerin down the right wing, who headed the ball into the box, where Walcott managed to outmuscle Jordi Amat, and slot the ball past Lukas Fabianski, to give the Arsenal lead.
Arsenal could had had a second goal when Özil picked out Bellerin, but the Spaniard’s effort was well blocked by Fabianski, however from the resulting corner, Walcott beat Fabianski again.
Özil’s corner flew through everyone, falling perfectly to Walcott, who only had to turn and blast the ball past Fabianski, to make it 2-0 to Arsenal.
However, Sigurdsson cut Arsenal’s lead just six minutes after Walcott’s second goal. Xhaka lost possession to Sigurdsson in a great area for Swansea, and the Icelandic playmaker curled in a beautiful effort from distance, beating a gobsmacked Petr Cech, to cut Swansea’s deficit down to one.
The goal lifted the Swans’ spirit, and the Welsh side were threatening in the closing stages of the first half, however Bob Bradley’s side couldn’t tie the game up going into the break.
After a quite start to the second half, Walcott should had secured his hat-trick when Iwobi danced his way through the Swansea defence, before laying the ball off to the English winger, but his effort went straight to Fabianski.
Birthday goal for Özil
The chance sparked the second half into life, and moments later, Özil scored Arsenal’s third goal of the day. Sanchez whipped in a great cross from the right wing to the far post, and Özil timed his run to perfection, as the birthday boy thundered the ball into the top corner, to cap off a tremendous Arsenal move.
The tempo shifts
Arsenal though the game was wrapped up, however Swansea’s relentless pressing continued to trouble the hosts, and the pressure paid off as Borja Baston slotted the ball past Cech in the 66th minute.
Barrow’s darted down the by-line with great speed, before squaring the ball across the face of goal to an unmarked Baston, who had a simple finish past Cech, to put the visitors back in the game.
Arsenal’s problems grew worse, as Xhaka was sent off four minutes after Baston’s goal. The Swiss international recklessly hacked down Barrow from behind, and Jon Moss and no choice but to send the midfielder off for dangerous play.
A tense ending
The tempo had shifted in Swansea’s favour, as Barrow should had levelled the game up for the visitors, as the winger snuck past the Arsenal defence to meet a Sigurdsson cross, but his header was tame, and Cech was able to collect it with ease.
Walcott should had sealed the three points, when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain teed up his international teammate, but the winger’s chance from range bounced off the inside of the post, and out of play for a goal kick.
Swansea were still knocking at Arsenal’s door, as Cech was called into action to deny Fer on two separate occasions, making two simple saves to save two headers from the Dutchman.
Walcott was again close to sealing his hat-trick, as Chamberlain broke down the wing, and set Walcott up with an open goal, but the winger fired the ball high over the bar. The miss didn’t prove costly, as the final whistle was blown seconds after the goal kick.