Arsenal 1 - 0 Swansea
Having just been beaten by Man City at home, Arsenal braced themselves for a visit from an in-form Swansea side. Both teams were desperate to progress to the next round of the FA Cup, but In the end, the Gunners prevailed over the Swans to go through.
The first half was packed full of chances, but void of any goals. Arsenal set out with Diaby, Wilshere, Cazorla, Walcott & Giroud all in the starting line up, which is surely the most offensive team we’ve seen all season. The results were pleasing to the eye, as Arsenal’s passing game began to flow, and chances were created.
Giroud was presented with several opportunities to work the Swansea goalkeeper, but failed to produce anything noteworthy. Theo Walcott was back on the right-wing, and making dangerous runs both on and off the ball.[quote_right]”Nobody on the pitch deserved to score more than Jack Wilshere, and judging by his celebrations, nobody wanted it more either.”[/quote_right]
Jack Wilshere, as usual, was working tirelessly in the centre. The Englishman had been handed his preferred role behind the striker, as Cazorla was moved out on to the left to perhaps help bring back his lost spark of excellence.
Swansea’s attacks were few and far between, but Arsenal failed to establish themselves with a goal in the first half, leaving the game tipping dangerously in the balance.
The second half consisted of Arsenal dominating the play, yet reaching new heights of wastefulness at the same time. Swansea were lacking their usual fluidity in the final third, But the Gunners simply couldn’t take advantage.
Chance after chance fell for Olivier Giroud, and time and time again he opted for the wrong type of finish. The big Frenchman was doing well to hold up play against defender Chico Flores, but was having a terrible day at the office when it came to finishing off his chances.
As the clock counted down, it seemed that extra time was an inevitability. Swansea were unusually conservative, and Arsenal just couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net.
Theo Walcott had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed with a header, but he missed the ball completely, allowing Sagna’s cross to eventually rattle back off the far-post. It looked to be yet another one of those days.
However, in the eighty-sixth minute, the man who had been at the heart of every Arsenal attack took his chance. Cazorla played the ball through to Giroud, who delicately touched the ball into the air for an oncoming Jack Wilshere. Jack met the ball with a thundering strike, sending it past a helpless Vorm, sealing the victory in the process. Finally.
Nobody on the pitch deserved to score more than Jack Wilshere, and judging by his celebrations, nobody wanted it more either.
Arsenal kept the ball well in the final minutes to close out the game, and as the final whistle blew, a sigh of great relief sounded round the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners were through to face Brighton in the FA Cup.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
He was largely untroubled throughout the match, bar a second half shot from Ki, which he kept out well.
Poor Bacary has had a torrid time in recent weeks. Bad defending paired with ineffective attacks have sent his confident spiralling. But today wasn’t too bad, and perhaps he can build upon it against Chelsea on Sunday. Great cross for Theo’s missed header.
Swansea hardly caused any trouble for Per, and the game generally passed him by. Can’t complain.
Thomas made two excellent last-ditch challenges in the first half to deny Swansea an opening goal, and carried on his consistent defending in the second half. Missed a golden opportunity to put Arsenal in front on the stroke of half time.
With Swansea pinned back, Gibbs had a great time getting forward at every opportunity. He kept the ball excellently and provided some decent crosses.
It was his second game back, and his fitness is obviously a work in progress. But Abou kept the ball well and made some decent challenges. Had a good shot blocked in the box.
Francis played well, and was oddly found further up the pitch than Diaby. Still, he distributed the ball nicely and cleaned up defensively where needed.
MOTM. Jack worked tirelessly all game, and was the engineer behind every Arsenal attack. His late winner epitomised his performance. Power, passion and a desire to be a winner. What a player.
I was hoping that Cazorla being moved out wide would allow him to be more creative. But the Spaniard continued his dissapointing run of form tonight with misplaced passes and an overall lack of impact. Needs a rest.
Theo made some decent runs both on and off the ball, but had numerous chances to put the game to bed. Not one of his better performances.
Wasteful. Olivier had many chances in front of goal, but he kept opting for the more difficult options. Needs to finish his chances more often. Did well to get the assist though.
Came off the bench late on and provided Theo with a good pass to set him free in the box.
[title]No Swanning About[/title]
Arsenal dominated tonight’s game in it’s totality, but failed to finish off the vast majority of their chances. Giroud and Walcott in particular will be dissapointed with themselves, but Jack Wilshere will sleep like Archie Wilshere tonight. Abou Diaby’s gradual return is also looking promising.
Next up, Arsenal face Chelsea away in the Premier League. Today’s result will only benefit our performance.
What did you think of the Arsenal Vs Swansea match? Share your views in the comments section below.
Photograph: ITV.com - PA