A quiet match exploded with three goals in a crazy final 10 minutes before ending 2-2
Well that was fun. We got two games for the price of one really: a cagey, intriguing 80-minute contest and 10 minutes of gloves-off thrills y spills. A draw is probably a fair result, even if Arsenal shaded it overall. Thanks for your emails; bye.
90+3 min To call this game ragged would be an insult to the relatively composed inhabitants of Rochester High Street at chucking-out time. Either side could win this.
90+1 min There will be five minutes of added time. Swansea almost scored in the first. Graham, in the D, played a clever angled pass to the onrushing Tiendalli on the right of the box. He could have crossed it, but he sensed Szczesny pre-empting a cross – think Schmeichel and Futre – and sidefooted the ball towards the near post, hitting it into the side netting. He should have scored actually because Szczesny left a huge gap.
90 min This tactically uninteresting period continues with a fine chance for Koscielny. He lost his man – I think he shoved him, actually – to meet a left-wing corner from Walcott and thump a header towards goal from six yards. It was too straight and Vorm dived to his left to beat it away dramatically.
89 min If you can't read the goal descriptions, please press F5: we have a problem with the auto-refresh.
88 min Theo Walcott has a goal disallowed for a foul in the build-up. I didn't see it, but the lack of complaints suggest it was a fair decision.
<Footballbloodyhell> Swansea have equalised! </Footballbloodyhell> This is a brilliant finish from Danny Graham. A deep, drilled corner from the right cleared everyone in the middle of the goal and came to Ki, maybe 10 yards from goal in line with the left post. He calmly controlled the ball and played an angled pass it to Graham on the left side of the six-yard box, in space, and he swept an emphatic first-time shot into the roof of the net with the side of his right foot.
86 min Ki almost equalises for Swansea. A long angled free-kick from the right cleared all the defenders and came to him on the left of the box. He took a touch and tried to shape a curler into the far corner – a bit like Tom Cleverley yesterdays – but it was too straight and Szczesny beat it away.
84 min Gibbs was booked for celebrating. You can't blame him.
What a goal from Kieran Gibbs! Arsenal picked up where they left off before the equaliser, swarming all over Swansea, and Gibbs scored a glorious goal to put them ahead. He played a square ball infield to Giroud, 20 yards from goal, kept running onto a fine clipped return pass and volleyed emphatically over Vorm and into the roof of the net. That was a wonderful goal; it could easily have been Dani Alves and Andres Iniesta rather than Gibbs and Giroud.
Lukas Podolski keeps Arsenal in the FA Cup! They fully deserve it. Walcott's corner from the left was too deep, but Sagna kept it in play, heading it back towards the edge of the box. Koscielny, facing away from goal, managed to keep the ball alive some more, and Podolski hit a stunning first-time shot on the turn from 12 yards past Vorm. His left foot has a bigger sweet spot than most, and he certainly found it then.
81 min Cazorla sweeps it straight into the wall, and then Agustien shanks an attempted clearance for a corner in the comedy style. Arsenal are battering Swansea.
79 min Bartley is booked for a sliding challenge on Wilshere at the edge of the box that was so utterly inept as to be almost endearing. This is a great chance for Arsenal. The free-kick will be taken by Cazorla, Arteta, or Podolski ...
78 min "Walcott is always touted as a nice, middle-class lad," says Matt Dony. "Very few things define that ilk like an insecurity masked by arrogance. He knows he's good, but he's mildly embarrassed by it. He won't tell you he's good, but he'd very much like you to tell him he's good. In order to succeed in sport, there has to be an arrogance, but he manifests it very differently to, say CR7." You've nailed that and put it better than I ever could. Shall we swap jobs.
77 min Podolski misses a sitter from six yards, although he had been rightly given offside. Not that he knew that at the time.
75 min Two great chances for Arsenal in 15 seconds! First Giroud, 12 yards out, ruins Cazorla's careful, almost loving assist with a sackable first touch; then, after a mistake by Davies, Walcott drills a wonderful chance across goal and just wide from 15 yards. He should have scored.
74 min "With everyone (it seems) able to watch the Kazakhstan league and everything in between and Moneyball stats analysed ad nauseum, you would think bargains like Michu would be impossible to find – yet there seem to be plenty around for those with eyes to see," says Gary Naylor. "The corollary of that assertion is that there must be players as overvalued as the likes of the Spaniard was undervalued. In fact, we know that – there's eleven of them in Arsenal shirts every week. (Okay, ex Cazorla.)
73 min Aaron Ramsey, who has had a frustrating day for a few reasons, is replaced by Lukas Podolski.
71 min "Re: the penalty appeal," says Jon Collin, "since when do footballers clip their own heels? (Other than Gareth Bale, obviously)."
It can happen, but it's pretty unlikely. They do have a fair bit of practice when it comes to, y'know, running. I suspect Tiendalli did clip Ramsey – Ramsey's reaction reinforces that perception – but it's nigh-on impossible to be certain with super slo-mo, never mind when you see the incident live. I'm not really sure what else the referee can do. He can't guess. A similar thing happened with Nicky Butt and John Moncur at Old Trafford in 2000. A few people said Butt dived but that seemed harsh.
69 min Swansea make their last substitution, with Kemy Agustien replacing Leon Britton.
68 min Arsenal are desperate now, feral even, and Swansea are having to hold on. Vorm calms things down for a bit with an excellent catch from Wilshere's dangerous cross.
66 min "I think I've seen it all now – an MBM that mentions M Beat featuring General Levy!" says Adam Keeing. "Personally, I think Wenger should forget tactics and blast out Firestarter in the dressing room before each match. It should help pep things up! Oh, and isn't General Levy how the Spurs owner refers to himself?"
65 min That was a big chance for Giroud. Ramsey, facing away from goal by the corner flag on the left, made space where there was none before drilling a brilliant left-footed cross towards Giroud, eight yards from goal. He got above his man, Chico I think, but headed wide of the far post.
65 min Wilshere has been kicking people from the moment Arsenal went behind and might have been booked.
64 min Mertesacker – if only the great Sid Waddell was still around to say that name as he did 'understacker' – faffs risibly and is robbed by Michu. He finds Graham, he finds Hernandez, and his cocky chip from the edge of the box is comfortably saved by Szczesny.
63 min Arsenal have never gone out of the FA Cup in the third round under Arsene Wenger, it says here.
62 min Arsenal are rattled, and Sagna is penalised for high feet just outside the box on the left wing. Ki's inswinger is nutted clear by Giroud and Arsenal break so swiftly that, within 10 seconds, Tiendalli has to come round the side of Gibbs to make a brilliant – and very risky – last-ditch challenge at the expense of a corner. His margin for error was non-existent; it would have been a penalty and a red card.
61 min £2m. Value.
60 min "The male Tanya Donnelly replies," begins Kalle Weis-Fogh. "Laudrup's going to United to replace Fergie. Everyone and The Guardian knows that."
59 min If you can't read the description of the goal, press F5 and it should appear. It's an award-winner.
Michu scores within 73 seconds of coming off the bench! The move started when a long goalkick from Vorm was headed infield by Dyer on the right wing. Koscielny knocked it up in the air, maybe 45 yards from goal, and Michu was on it in a flash. He volleyed the loose ball over the flat-footed Mertesacker, loped past him in that languid, deceptively quick style of his, and then calmly sidefooted the ball past Szczesny from the edge of the box. The defending had a whiff of the slapstick, it's true, but Michu took the goal beautifully. Arsenal must be sick to death of him.
56 min Swansea make a double change, with Michu and Pablo Hernandez coming on for Jonathan de Guzman and Wayne Routledge.
54 min A superb volley on the turn by Giroud, from GIbbs's ankle-high cross, is turned away well by Vorm, diving to his right. Swansea are hanging on just now.
52 min Arsenal had a huge penalty appeal there. Ramsey was running on to a nothing ball forward on the left of the box when he fell over. Tiendalli was nearby, and it seemed he had accidentally knocked Ramsey over as they ran at different angles. Howard Webb said no penalty and Ramsey was furious. What is certain is that Ramsey clipped his own heels and went over as a result; what isn't clear is whether Tiendalli imperceptibly brushed one of Ramsey's legs, thus disturbing his running stride and making one leg hit the other.. It's not clear after 10 replays, so there's no way Howard Webb could have given it.
51 min An excellent break from Arsenal leads to a chance for Giroud. An excellent lofted pass from either Ramsey or Arteta found Giroud in the centre circle. He played a penetrative straight pass to Walcott, who had a two-on-two against the defence. He decided not to go it alone, instead playing an angled pass to Giroud on the left, 18 yards from goal, and his fierce first-time strike was beaten away by Vorm. It was a good hit but too straight.
50 min Arsenal have started the second half as they did the first, dominating possession. Not much is happening, however.
49 min "I was just stretched out on the sofa with the idea that, if he thought only about his career, Laudrup would have chosen the strongest possible Swansea team today," says Patrick Cullen. "If Arsenal were knocked out of the cup today, their last realistic chance of a trophy, it's not impossible that the board might finally say enough, and offer a new broom the January transfer window in which to sweep clean. And if so, why not choose a trainer who's already beaten you home and away this season?"
I know what you mean, but that's a hell of a reach, no? It's a bit like a man spraying aftershave all over my body before a business trip to Huddersfield lest he meet an amorous supermodel. It's not like that at all, is it.
48 min A loose ball bounces onto the left foot of Giroud, lurking 19 yards from goal with big ideas. A miserable shot bobbles wide.
47 min "I think you're well off with the arrogance comment too," says Matt. "In fact, I think Theo's timidity is one of the things that holds him back from being a great striker. Like many Arsenal players he has an unnerving lack of self-confidence. He seems to be gaining some self-assuredness, but have you ever seen him be interviewed? He hardly comes across with swagger."
It's just an opinion; they make the world go round. I'd also say that arrogance and insecurity are hardly mutually exclusive.
46 min Swansea began the second half. For those reading this on a black-and-white radio, they are kicking from left to right.
"Can you remember an Arsene Wenger team this boring?" says Chris Sturrock. "I believe the great man himself refers to it as 'sterile domination'."
That really is a magnificent phrase – his best since "everyone thinks he has the prettiest wife at home" – and, yes, it does apply to Arsenal in the first half.
"Baah!" says Kalle Weis-Fogh. "De Guzman is hit or miss. Capable of brilliance and utter toss, usually within the same five minutes of a game. Chico though, a beast of a man."
After five seconds' added time, Howard Webb gets intimate with his whistle. It has been exactly the game we expected: high in terms of intelligence and technical quality, low-to-middling in terms of clear chances. See you in 10 minutes.
45 min "It's not the headphones' problem," says Joe Pearson. "It's the jack in the iPod/iPhone/whatever. Due almost certainly to your rough handling, the leads don't make good contact anymore. As for repair, it's almost cheaper to buy a new iPod." Surely if that's the case, buying a new pair wouldn't resolve the problem? I am rough with my hands though, I accept that and I'm working on it with the old therapist.
44 min Cazorla finds a pocket of space 25 yards from goal, just enough to control the ball and drill a low shot towards goal. It's well hit but comfortably saved by the sprawling Vorm.
42 min "Since Ramsey lacks a nasty streak and Arteta is hardly a fearsome defensive midfielder," says Ronan Scott, "surely Arsenal need a horrible piece of work this window? It therefore leaves me baffled why Yann M'Vila's troubles haven't endeared him more to Wenger, he's a right so and so."
Never mind Arsenal, football and all that jazz. What a simply magnificent phrase "a horrible piece of work" is.
39 min De Guzman is a good player, isn't he? Michael Laudrup's work in the transfer market has been outstanding, and not just because of Michu.
38 min "Walcott's arrogance!" says Ben Bernards. "Are you being funny? I'm far from Theo's biggest fan but arrogance is simply a trait he has never ever shown. God knows what you make of Cristiano Ronaldo? 'History's greatest monster', presumably."
You don't have to wear hotpants, talk in the third person and tongue the mirror to emit arrogance. And of course Walcott's arrogance is partly what makes him an occasionally unplayable player.
36 min Kyle Bartley hits the bar against his old club! De Guzman hit a deep, outswinging free-kick from a narrow, deep position on the right, and Bartley clambered all over Mertesacker to plant a header off the top of the bar from the left of the six-yard box. I suspect Szczesny had it covered; either way, it was a fine effort. Ramsey was booked for the foul that led to the chance.
35 min That was a decent chance for Arsenal. They worked the ball neatly down the left to Gibbs, who eschewed the options in the six-yard box and cut it back to Cazorla, lurking in space 15 yards from goal. He sidefooted it first time over the bar. It was far from an easy chance but, as the cliche goes, a player of his class would expect to hit the target.
32 min It's fascinating how many flair players are brilliant defensive tacticians. I suppose it's only logical. George Graham and Glenn Hoddle are two of the best examples. And if this first half hour – and this season – are anything to go by, Michael Laudrup certainly knows what he's doing too.
31 min "No, it's not Arteta's job when the ball is near that far away from Arsenal's goal," says Ian Little (18 min). Ah, fair enough; when you said 'midfield partner' I thought you meant it in the strictest sense – i.e. a two in a 4-2-3-1.
30 min After a beautiful passing move down the left, Ramsey bursts dangerously into the box and comes inside the last man Chico, but his touch is a fraction too heavy and that means he can't get a shot away. Would his touch have been a fraction too heavy three years ago? Sad to say, probably not.
29 min "I can't work out if its sad or impressive that I now know by heart which songs will still sound great with only one headphone (Low's Breaker might actually be better for it)," says Alex Hanton. "It's sad isn't it?"
On the contrary. Did you know read about that research which showed this is the second thing a woman looks for in a man, after a huge CD collection?
27 min This is a really good spell for Arsenal, sparked by those carpe diem surges from Walcott. A long spell of possession ends with an errant chipped cross from Arteta.
26 min "I, too, spent years messing about with earbuds and different brands, suffering the one-ear-going indignities you refer too," says Ryan Dunne, using the technical term, "until one day I caved in and finally got some proper overear headphones. Life (at least listening to music wise) has been a breeze since! The other cool thing about Beats is that one can wear them with Jordans, thereby looking like a footballer/rapper, which obviously helps with the ladies."
You can get the same problem with overear headphones, though. It's all a big mess. Life's never life they say it is in the movies.
24 min His arrogance is not to all tastes, but you have to say Walcott is playing formidably well at the moment. It might be a purple patch, or he might be in the process of taking a shortcut from good to very good.
23 min Walcott tries to drill the free-kick under the leaping wall. The wall doesn't leap and it hits a shinbone or three.
22 min Walcott is taken down by Chico 25 yards from goal after another superb run. Howard Webb tries to play the advantage; when that does not eventuate, he pulls play back for a free-kick. Well done Howard.
20 min An incisive run from Walcott down the centre of the pitch prompts Arsenal's best attack thus far. Eventually he plays it wide to Giroud, whose deflected cut-back comes to Ramsey on the edge of the box. He tees up Walcott, whose curling shot from 16 yards is blocked by a defender.
19 min Dyer's miserable ball forward is benevolently returned to him by Mertesacker. He gives it to Routledge, who wins Swansea's first corner of the match (I think). De Guzman swings it very deep and Sagna heads clear.
18 min "Cazorla is lazy when Arsenal don't have the ball," says Ian Little. "You'll continue to see Wilshere throw his arms up in the air as he continues to press high only for Cazorla to not cover the space behind him. In the long-term, Arsenal need for Ramsey to come good or find a midfield partner for Wilshere who will match his work rate and talent."
Is that not Arteta's job?
17 min Swansea are very much playing as the away side, and doing it very well so far. Arsenal have had most of the ball; Swansea have had the one significant opportunity.
16 min "Watching the first ten minutes of this game had me really wanting to buy a drill, which is unusual for me, because I don't often drill things," says Ethan Dean-Richards. "Thought it was something to do with Walcott being out there or at least Wenger, but I've just realised there are drills all over the advertising hoardings. Partly a relief, partly a disappointment."
Tell you what is all over the advertising hoardings at the moment: bloody tax-return reminders. On the contrary, Moira, tax does bloody have to be taxing, and reminding us every time we turn a street corner isn't exactly conducive to the flow of serotonin.
13 min Danny Graham forces a good save from Szczesny with a belting effort. He was preying on the last man Mertesacker when the right-back Tiendalli played a long, angled ball forward. Graham held off Mertesacker, controlled the ball into the space in front and then larruped a half-volley from 20 yards with his second touch. Szczesny dives smartly to his left to beat it away.
11 min "I've often felt that the soundtrack for Arsenal would be an Eno ambient album (on vinyl) called Music for Stadia," says Michael Olson. Except the last 15 minutes of that Newcastle game, which was more like Incredible by M Beat featuring General Levy.
9 min Swansea pass the ball around at the back for 60 seconds. Then a space emerges and Ki plays a crisp, penetrative pass into midfield to Dyer (I think), who moves it on quickly to de Guzman. He flips an excellent ball wide to the overlapping full-back Tiendalli, whose dangerous first-time cross is headed clear at the far post. That was a lovely attack, a perfect example of slow-slow-quick football.
7 min Swansea have eased their way into the contest now, even if they are largely playing on the break for now. It's settling into a nice game. The atmosphere is pretty muted, mind.
6 min Chico does well to hold off Walcott, who tried to get behind him onto Giroud's headed flick-on.
5 min "For me this is last chance saloon for Gordo Ramsey," says George Jacob. "A lot of potential, an archtypical 'British' player - lots of running, huff and puff, and sidewards passing, but precious little besides. He's Ray Parlour without the locks, and the nasty edge that made the Romford Pele a folk hero at Highbury."
I don't watch Arsenal enough, but from afar he does seem to have regressed alarmingly since that horrible injury three years ago. He looks a bit lost. It's all very sad because he was such an accomplished teenager.
4 min "Arsenal's kit," says Grant Thorneycroft. "I think its purple and black Rob." Good point. I got Hootie and the Blowfish.
3 min A slick, purposeful start from Arsenal, who seem determined to show that they Mean Business. Swansea have barely touched the ball, and when they finally do it is to concede the first corner of the match. Wilshere swings it in and Routledge clears.
2 min "And if Arsenal's transfer policy was a Sugar album," says Matt Dony, "it'd be called 'The Joke Is Always On Us, Always.' This is potentially a much more hipster (read: pretentious) thread than yesterday's eggcorns." From little eggcorns...
1 min Arsenal kick off from left to right. They are in blue-and-black hoops; Swansea are in white.
"I know it's something of a cliché," says Charles Antaki, selling his email well, "but poor Kieran Gibbs' expression in your photo does remind me of Edvard Munch's '[The Scream'. Although perhaps in view of Arsenal's recent performances, perhaps 'The Whimper' might be more appropriate."
So here's a thing: when we MBM games on other TV channels, we can hear the commentary/pre-match bantz in both ears of the headphones. But on ESPN you can only hear it in the left ear. It's mildly disorientating. Does anyone know what gives? (Apar from the orientation on the right side of my head.)
It brings to mind the exasperating struggle that ensues when you are on a train, listening to the best playlist ever, only for one ear in your headphones to stop working. You then have to wiggle the headphones or wrap them round the iPod/Walkman until you get hearing in both ears, then hold the lead in precisely that position to ensure hearing for the rest of the journey, but just when you are getting comfortable you inadvertently move a millimetre and the headphones stop working again. I'm grrrring up just thinking about it.
Both sides have made a number of changes, as you'd expect: four for Swansea, three for Arsenal. Michu is on the bench – he has a slight back problem – and it appears Theo Walcott has been BANISHED to the right wing.
Swansea (possible 4-2-3-1) Vorm; Tiendalli, Chico, Bartley, Davies; Britton, Ki; Routledge, de Guzman, Dyer; Graham.
Subs: Tremmel, Rangel, Monk, Agustien, Hernandez, Michu, Shechter.
Arsenal (possible 4-2-3-1) Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Walcott, Cazorla, Ramsey; Giroud.
Subs: Martinez, Vermaelen, Santos, Coquelin, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Podolski.
Referee Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)
Good afternoon. The magic of the FA Cup is not just about muddy pitches, watery pies and unknown hairy-derriered chancers called Alf or Tom or Reg roofing a medicine ball from 30 yards. One of the ties of the third round in this year's English FA Cup will be played in Wales by teams who are managed by a Dane and a Frenchman, and whose style wouldn't look out of place in Spain, and with most eyes on a languid maestro called Michu. I've just been told that Michu's not playing, so there goes that intro. Oh well. There's still much to look forward to, however. If this match were a Sugar album it would be called File Under One For The Purists.
Kick off is at 1.30pm.