Arsenal 1 Swansea City 0

Jack Wilshere was the Gunners’ hero as Arsenal saw off Swansea in this FA Cup third round replay at the Emirates. The first half may have resembled something of an anti-climax in terms of the home side’s finishing, and although that theme continued in the second half, Wilshere finally broke the deadlock after 86 minutes to secure an FA Cup fourth round trip to Brighton. That the scoreline was just 1-0 was down to some fine saves from Michel Vorm, who was in inspired form as Arsenal totally dominated possession and created all the chances.

Arsenal’s new midfield pairing of Abou Diaby and Francis Coquelin showed the type of tenacity and menace that had been sorely missed of late. If only the former could maintain a level of fitness, what could have been is a pertinent question, but one that is academic now. Fingers crossed for the rest of the season for the France player.

Arsenal started in the mood that suggested that they wanted to get last Sunday’s poor loss to Manchester City out of their system.Theo Walcott saw his cross from the right just elude Giroud after six minutes, as the Gunners started brightly. Swansea were struggling in defence and Arsenal should have capitalised seconds later.

Sagna won possession and fed Walcott. His cross was good, but Giroud was wide of the target. Thomas Vermaelen has not hit the high standards shown last season, something that he would admit as much, but his two defensive blocks from Nathan Dyer ensured the scoreline remained goalless.

Keen to make up for the three and a half month absence, Diaby was unlucky not to find the target after seeing his fierce drive blocked by former Gunner Kyle Bartley after 17 minutes. Bartley had earlier seen a header hit the top of the bar from Wayne Routledge’s cross, but the Gunners came back firing.

Coquelin had declined an early opportunity to shoot when clear, but midway through the first half, his powerful shot was straight at Vorm. Walcott was interchanging with Giroud in the central striker role, and that confused the Swans, but yielded no goals.

Coquelin too was advancing at will, and his combination with Wilshere created a chance that Walcott hit true, only to see it blocked. Still there was time in the one minute of time added on. Vermaelen was alert from a Walcott corner, only to see Vorm block off the line with his legs.

It would not be the first time Vorm would frustrate Arsenal. Five minutes after the re-start however, it was to be another familiar if somewhat unfortunate theme. That of wasteful Walcott. Diaby’s pass found the Arsenal striker who raced away from Chico Flores, only to see his effort beat the Swan’s ‘keeper, but agonisingly the wrong side of Vorm’s upright.

Unlike Sunday, the Gunners were committed and up for the fight. Santi Cazorla was showing some of his effervescent class, and almost opened the scoring after 51 minutes, but hit just over the bar. Flores then timed his block to perfection as Wilshere raced forward.

Wilshere then saw a chance go begging as Vorm palmed the ball away after 63 minutes, as Arsenal increased the tempo and pressure. Danny Graham and substitute Sung-Yeung Ki then came to Swansea’s rescue with blocks on the line. The South Korean had the Swans only real chance of the second half, with a low shot that Wojciech Szczesny pushed away for a corner.

Wilshere, Walcott and Giroud continued the battering of the Swans, but the visitors held firm. When Walcott finally beat Vorm with a deft header from Bacary Sagna’s cross, the ball also beat the upright after 81 minutes.

Swansea finally caved in to the Gunners’ bombardment four minutes before time. Cazorla found Giroud on the right. His first time pass fell perfectly for Wilshere, and without breaking his stride the Gunners’ number 10 fired past Vorm for the winner.