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Jan 15, 2012

Golden Graham seals Swans win

Arsene Wenger made another desperate call for the Thierry Henry rescue act during Arsenal's trip to Swansea on Sunday, but the club's record goalscorer this time could not save the Gunners as they fell to a 3-2 defeat at the Liberty Stadium.

• Premier League gallery Photo Gallery

There looked no need for Henry's services as Robin van Persie drove Arsenal into an early lead in front of the watching Frenchman. However, a penalty from Scott Sinclair and an excellent strike from Nathan Dyer turned the game on its head, and even though Henry's arrival quickly saw Theo Walcott equalise, Danny Graham instantly replied to prove the match-winner for Swansea.

Following Henry's goal against Leeds upon his return to Emirates Stadium, all pre-match speculation focused on whether Wenger would hand him a starter's role in Wales. When the team-sheets arrived Henry was on the bench, while Yossi Benayoun was handed a start in midfield with Mikel Arteta sidelined by a calf strain.

It took all of four minutes for Henry to learn that the striking role he once occupied is now in safe hands with Van Persie, who showed superb calm to hand Arsenal the lead. Andrei Arshavin was given too much time and space in which to roll a simple slide-rule pass into Van Persie's path, and the Dutchman delayed under pressure from his marker before finding the near corner with his right foot.

It all seemed too easy for the visitors as they strolled through the opening quarter of an hour, but things suddenly changed when they conceded a soft penalty. Dyer produced a nice piece of skill to retain possession inside the area, and it was enough to induce an unnecessary challenge from Aaron Ramsey, allowing Sinclair to level from the spot.

The Gunners should have led again on the half-hour, with Van Persie offered a carbon copy of the chance that led to his first goal. In fact, this time he had even more space, but fired his right-footed effort straight at Michel Vorm.

It was a miss that Arsenal were later left to rue as Swansea dominated the opening 20 minutes of the second half, taking the lead through Dyer. The winger's first touch was poor following Joe Allen's cultured pass, but Dyer still managed to find the power to beat Wojciech Szczesny from the edge of the box.

Cue the arrival of Henry, and cue an Arsenal equaliser through Walcott who, like Van Persie, was afforded far too much space as he chipped past Vorm with 20 minutes remaining.

However, just when it looked like Arsenal might pull a victory from the jaws of defeat, it was Swansea who instantly went up the other end, Graham beating the offside trap to beat the hesitant Szczesny - who got stuck in no-man's land after halting his charge from the goal-line.

Victory lifts Swansea into the top half of the Premier League table, while Arsenal stay four points behind Chelsea in the hunt for Champions League qualification.

Mark Hughes discovered the size of his task facing him as QPR manager as he watched his side slump to a 1-0 defeat against Newcastle at St James' Park.

QPR find themselves in the relegation places and without a win in nine league matches after Leon Best's first-half strike sealed all three points for the Magpies, who move up to sixth in the Premier League.

Hughes, who was confirmed as Neil Warnock's successor on Tuesday, was in the dugout for the first time since leaving Fulham in the summer. Having taken over the reins in midweek, he saw his side start brightly, but they were unable to convert chances into goals.

Shaun Wright Phillips, who worked under Hughes at Manchester City, looked lively in the early stages and his first-time strike from the edge of the area clipped the bar after Newcastle were dispossessed at the back.

Newcastle lost playmaker Yohan Cabaye when the Frenchman was stretched off after a challenge from Shaun Derry, who earned a yellow card for his efforts. With Hatem Ben Arfa replacing the Frenchman, it was QPR who hit the woodwork once again; Jay Bothroyd curling a shot past Tim Krul after a superb piece of individual skill on the left of the box.

But it was Newcastle who took the lead against the run of play, Best breaking the deadlock in the 37th minute. Newcastle have lost top striker Demba Ba to the African Cup of Nations, but Best proved a worthy deputy, showing impressive composure to turn inside Luke Young before stabbing the ball past Paddy Kenny.

Bothroyd had the chance to equalise for QPR midway through the second half, racing clear of the Newcastle defence, but his strike was palmed away for a corner by Krul.

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