Arsenal didn’t have much of a problem outplaying a less-than impressive Swansea side at the Emirates in London on Jan. 16, but they did have trouble putting the ball in the back of keeper Michael Vorm’s net. It took an 86th- minute goal by English international midfielder Jack Wilshere to guarantee a 1-0 win over the Welsh club in their third-round FA Cup replay after being held to a 2-2 draw at Liberty Stadium in their first match.
The Gunners had numerous chances to put this game to bed much earlier, but just couldn’t deposit the ball across the goal line. Wilshere finally did the trick near the end of the game with a fine 20-yard shot and it solidified his man of the match performance. Arsenal will know head south to take on Brighton in the fourth round of the Cup as they attempt to win their first piece of silverware since 2005. Arsenal played a much better game than they did against Man City on the weekend, but were snake bitten around the Swansea goal for the most part.
In addition, Swansea didn’t offer much in the way of resistance and the club’s supporters must once again be questioning manager Michael Laudrup’s inexplicable decision to leave top scorer Michu on the bench for the first 71 minutes. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger went with French international striker up front in the middle and shifted top scorer Theo Walcott over to the right side. However, they both missed glorious opportunities to put the Gunners ahead earlier in the game.
Swansea rarely ventured into Arsenal’s 18-yard box and when they did the Gunners back four took care of things in a timely fashion. The closest they came was in the 26th minute when Kyle Bartley rose to meet a Wayne Routledge cross, but his header slammed off of the crossbar. Thomas Vermaelen made sure Swansea’s other first-half attempts didn’t reach the goal and he almost out the Gunners ahead near the end of the first half, but his close-range shot was saved by Vorm.
The second half followed the same pattern with Arsenal wasting their chances, but they didn’t give up and their superior skill end effort finally paid off with Wislhere’s goal. The game produced fine efforts from all Arsenal players, but they have to finish better if they hope to break their trophy drought. Their next match is a huge London derby against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday Jan. 20
Arsenal player ratings vs Swansea on Jan. 16
Wojciech Szczesny 6.5
The Polish international keeper didn’t have much to do, other than try to stay awake. He had to make a save during the second half and watched Bartley’s header bounce off the crossbar in the first half.
Bacary Sagna 7
Sagna played well as did everybody else, but needs to work on his crossing. Moved the ball forward well.
Thomas Vermaelen 7
Played well in his own end and almost put the Gunners ahead at the end of the first half, but Vorm made the save from a close-in shot.
Per Mertesacker 6.5
Mertesacker was solid and steady throughout and wasn’t overly worked.
Kieran Gibbs 7.5
Gibbs was one of the best players on the pitch especially in the Swansea end. He didn’t really have anything to do in his own half.
Francis Coquelin 6.5
Coquelin wasn’t really noticeable, which was a actually good thing since he didn’t make any mistakes. He put in a good effort and played well defensively.
Jack Wilshere 9
Wilshere was certainly the best player on the pitch. His top-class effort and goal led the way for the Gunners. What’s even better is that he’s just turned 21 years old and could be one of England’s and Arsenal’s top performers for the next decade.
Abou Diaby 6.5
Diaby was much improved over Sunday’s debacle against Man City. He came off after 82 minutes for Aaron Ramsey as it was just his second game back from injury.
Theo Walcott 7
Walcott played well in all areas except for his finishing. He could have had two or three goals if he was more lethal in front of the net. .
Santi Cazorla 7
Cazorla had a good game overall and was rock steady in the midfield.
Olivier Giroud 6
The French international striker also had his share of opportunities, but like everybody who isn’t named Wilshire, couldn’t put the ball in the net. Wenger needs to play his forwards on a regular basis if he wants them to score on a consistent basis.
Aaron Ramsey 6
The Welshman came on in the 82nd minute and fit in well with the rest of the squad. The winning goal came four minutes after he entered the match.