Swansea 2 - 2 Arsenal
Arsenal travelled to the Liberty Stadium in the FA Cup 3rd Round to face an in-form Swansea side. The Swans were encouraged by their win over Arsenal earlier in the season, and the Gunners were yet again deflated after another draw against Southampton in midweek.
The first half was a tactical battleground between the two sides, which Swansea won comfortably. Arsenal lacked cohesion going forward, and looked messy at the back on various occasions.[quote_right]”The second half was rocked by four frantic goals, each one adding to the sloppy FA Cup drama.”[/quote_right]
As Vermaelen rested on the bench, Mikel Arteta filled in as captain, and the ‘Captain’s Curse’ seemed to have struck him down. Misplaced passes and failed challenges plagued his afternoon, and created problems for the Arsenal defence in the first half in particular.
Aaron Ramsey was also doing his level best to mimic the missing Gervinho, out on the left-wing.
Swansea pressed well and attacked with creativity throughout the first half, but were unable to break the deadlock. Their undeniable superiority in the midfield on the other hand, was enough of a mental victory for them, as the half time whistle blew.
The second half was rocked by four frantic goals, each one adding to the sloppy FA Cup drama. Swansea gradually allowed Arsenal back into the game, more so via their own fatigue rather than anything else.
Michu, who had scored twice when Swansea last visited the Emirates Stadium, came off the bench and took just over a minute to tear through the Arsenal defences. The silky Spaniard knocked the ball over Mertesacker’s head, out-ran Koscielnly and guided the ball into the bottom corner with ease. Arsenal had been deservedly punished.
It took Arsenal a painful twenty-five minutes to muster up an equalizer. Swansea were keeping the ball well, and quelling any Arsenal attacks with relative comfort, but on the eighty-first minute, Podolski span in the crowded Swansea box and shot the ball into the bottom corner. Arsenal didn’t deserve their goal, but got it anyway.[quote_left]”[Graham] controlled the ball in the vast space that he had, and fired it past Szczesney to equalize. Arsenal had shot themselves in the foot again with yet more poor defending.”[/quote_left]
Just two minutes later, it seemed that Arsenal’s luck had changed. Gibbs played the ball inside to Giroud, and carried on his run. The big Frenchman saw the sprint, and lifted the ball over the Swansea defence beautifully. Gibbs volleyed the pass first time into the roof of Vorm’s net with venom, to send Arsenal into the lead.
Despite the two quick-fire goals, Arsenal still looked vulnerable. Just five minutes after Gibbs’ strike, a Swansea corner eventually landed at an unmarked Danny Graham’s feet. He controlled the ball in the vast space that he had, and fired it past Szczesney to equalize. Arsenal had shot themselves in the foot again with yet more poor defending.
The game churned on and after five minutes of extra time, both sides were resigned to a replay at the Emirates Stadium. Swansea were the better side on the day, but Arsenal now have a second chance to put things right.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Dealt with a few Swansea shots and crosses well, but maybe could have done more to stop Michu getting his shot away for the first goal. Unlucky to concede twice.
I’m struggling to remember the last time Sagna played well. Every single cross he attempts hits the first defender, and players of questionable quality seem to be beating him with ease. Needs to be dropped for Jenkinson.
Didn’t do much wrong, but maybe could have got a challenge in on Michu before he entered the box. The Spaniard held him off too easily.
Beaten way too easily by Michu for his goal, but apart from that, did what I’d expect of him.
MOTM. A very low ratings for a Man of The Match, which unfortunately tells a telling story about Arsenal’s performance today. Gibbs worked hard all game and scored a beautiful goal to put Arsenal ahead. Defensively poor at times though.
Not a good day for Arteta. Many passes went astray, and he couldn’t get the ball out to Cazorla & Wilshere with the efficiency and pace we’re used to. That armband really is cursed.
You can never fault Jack on effort, but today was not his best performance. He made some good challenges and runs, but lost the ball a lot and failed to create anything of interest.
Yet again, Cazorla seems to be content with being a passenger. Created absolutely nothing in the final third, and looks disinterested off the ball at times. Not what you need from your player behind the striker.
Moved out to the right-wing again to accommodate Giroud, and looked uninterested. He had one or two chances to score, but narrowly missed both times. In and out of the game.
Couldn’t keep the ball, gave away silly fouls and did more harm than good to our attacks. I was hopeful of selling Ramsey, but after signing a new contract, perhaps a loan is all I can hope for. No where near good enough to be starting for Arsenal at the moment.
Didn’t have much service, but managed to scuff whatever service he had. A particularly poor header from six yards out summed up his afternoon. He did pull off a few powerful shots which troubled Vorm though.
Came on half way through the second half and grabbed a good goal. However, his poor defensive header led to Swansea’s equalizer.
[title]Replay, But Please Don’t Rewind[/title]
Swansea have not managed to outplay Arsenal twice in two different competitions. The Gunners have looked defensively weak and offensively clueless both home and away.
Arsenal are now forced to replay the tie, but will hope they don’t see a rewind and repeat of today’s terrible performance. The FA Cup is our best chance of silverware this season. Let’s try not to go out against Swansea, at least.
What did you think of the Swansea Vs Arsenal match? Should Bacary Sagna be dropped for Carl Jenkinson? Share your views in the comments section below.
Photograph: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images