Vintage FA Cup drama was in full flow at the Liberty Stadium as a 2-2 draw in which both teams surrendered a lead means Swansea City and Arsenal will have to do it all over again in a replay of this tie.
If the first half had been cautious and cagey from either side, the show after the restart was pure action. The Gunners began the second half with a bright effort and in truth, much of the football of the last 45 minutes belonged to them, but Michu stung Mertesacker and the Arsenal back-line with a ball over the top and a cute finish when he went up against Szczesny to hand the hosts a lead against the run of the play in the 59th minute.
Arsenal’s response was very urgent. Giroud was in the thick of the action upfront as he tested Swansea’s resolve with the help of service on the left by Ramsey and Gibbs.
Indeed, Swansea looked to have robbed Arsenal of a place in the fourth-round until the final ten minutes when substitute Podolski turned and shot to capitalize on a corner-kick which was not cleared properly to level matters for Arsenal.
Momentum belonged to the visitors at this point and so it was of little surprise when Gibbs exchanged neat passes with Giroud and sublimely volleyed the ball home only two minutes after Podolski’s equalizer to hand Arsenal a 2-1 lead with just six minutes to go.
Gibbs had scored a goal to remember and it deserved to be the winner, but with the game in their hands only for the first time today, Wenger’s men always feared another defensive capitulation could present the Swans a late equalizer. And those fears were realized when Graham was allowed to freely shoot into the roof of the net after a corner-kick was poorly defended.
On the 16th of January, there will be a second meeting at the Emirates stadium to settle matters.