What can Arsenal expect from Bob Bradley as a new era dawns at Swansea?

Arsenal welcome Swansea City to the Emirates on Saturday, with the visitors set to begin afresh under the management of American import Bob Bradley.

The 58-year-old arrives as something of an unknown quantity and the vast majority of football fans will get their first taste of Bradley when he goes in search of his maiden Premier League points against an in-form Gunners side.

So what do we know about Bradley and what can we expect?

One thing we do know is that Swansea have become something of a bogey side for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger since their arrival in the top flight some five years ago. Of the 10 league games the teams have played, Swansea hold the advantage, having won five games to Arsenal’s four, with one draw played out between them.

If nothing else, Bradley will be acutely aware of that fact and would be foolish not to use to motivate and galvanise his side for what would otherwise be a daunting first outing.

The timing of Swansea’s sacking of Francesco Guidolin was, almost certainly, to allow Bradley the maximum amount of time with his squad ahead of this game. The 10 days or so that he has had over the international break will have allowed him to study the task at hand and get to grips with his squad and how he wants them to set up.

We can be sure, therefore, that the Welsh side will come into the game with a lengthy period of preparation behind them.

Whether that means that will be setting up for a point, or whether they will look to be more positive, remains to be seen, but Bradley’s immediate past suggests he generally plays pretty positive football.

In his first interview with the club, he professed his love for the passing game.

Bradley said: “I love good passing football. I love the ability that, when you have the ball, it moves quickly. You find the right time and the right way to get forward and make chances.

“I think it’s important that, when you lose the ball, everybody is ready to react and try to win it back so that it’s a complete team effort.”

A man who, clearly, is an advocate of the modern way of playing the game: working hard, pressing as a team, moving the ball quickly.

It’s a strategy that, when done well, can make a team very difficult to beat and it is a strategy that seems to have brought Bradley some success in recent years.

In 2015/16, his Le Havre side missed out on promotion from Ligue 2 in France by just a single goal, despite a final day 5-0 win, and he started this season with two wins, two draws, and a solitary defeat before Swansea came calling.

In his time at Stabaek, in Norway, Bradley secured a ninth-place finish in his first season, in 2014, and a third-place finish and a shot at Europa League qualification in his second, in 2015.

The man likes a challenge. He has proven himself willing and able to adapt to different football nations and cultures and, for the most part, has shown himself to be pretty successful.

That said, I don’t think it would be unkind to say that Bradley was still a surprise appointment, particularly given the American’s relative lack of experience at the elite level of European football.

On the BBC’s Football Focus, former Arsenal striker John Hartson suggested that Bradley was favoured for the role because, like Swansea’s majority owners, he is an American – and there may be some truth in that.

But the Welsh club does have history, at least in recent times, of handing the top job to fledgling or relatively inexperienced managers – including the likes of Brendan Rogers, Michael Laudrup, Roberto Martinez, and Garry Monk.

Of course, it is overwhelmingly in the interests of the club’s owners to appoint someone they believe will keep them in the Premier League – where the money is – and they believe Bradley is that man.

To that end, he should be afforded the respect he deserves, but we shouldn’t get carried away. Even with a relatively poor record against Swansea and the lift in performance that a new manager can bring, this is a game that we should be looking to win.

If, as expected, Swansea go for a high-energy, hard-working type of performance, we should have the players capable of matching and surpassing that.

It’s if Bradley has something else up his sleeve that we may have a few different things to think about.

In any case, with Arsene’s intimate knowledge of the French game, you would expect he would have had his team watching tapes of Bradley’s Le Havre both this season and last, and learning all that there is to be learned.

Let’s just hope that, by the time Saturday comes, the American won’t have any lessons left to teach.

Bradley’s Management Record

Years   Team   Games Win Ratio

1997-2002 Chicago Fire 198 (56 per cent)

2002-2005 Metrostars 100 (36 per cent)

2005-2006 Chivas 35 (31 per cent)

2006-2011 United States 80 (54 per cent)

2011-2013 Egypt 36 (67 per cent)

2014-2015 Stabaek 72 (53 per cent)

2015-2016 Le Havre 36 (47 per cent)

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