Arsenal 1-0 Swansea City
The FA Cup with Budweiser
Third Round Proper replay
7.30pm, Wednesday 16 January 2013
Live on ESPN
Winning clubs receive £67,500 from The FA's prize fund
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By Glenn Lavery at Emirates Stadium
Jack Wilshere scored a late winner to send Arsenal into the Fourth Round of The FA Cup at the expense of Swansea.
The midfielder, who had been the Gunners’ leading light in Wednesday night’s Third Round replay, smashed the ball past Michel Vorm to seal a trip to Brighton next Saturday.
A fairly even first half was superseded by a dominant display from the Londoners after the break.
Theo Walcott could have scored a hat-trick, Olivier Giroud came close on more than one occasion, Bacary Sagna hit the post and the Welshmen were required to make four goal-line clearances.
But Arsenal’s classy general, 21-year-old Wilshere, who was operating in the 'No.10' role, staved off the need for extra-time with his strike four minutes from time.
As has long been their way, both sides displayed a patient brand of keep-ball early on, but had little to show in the way of goal chances – Danny Graham and Giroud, twice, shooting off target in the opening ten minutes.
However, Thomas Vermaelen’s last-ditch intervention prevented Nathan Dyer from finishing a slick passing move by the visitors – an act the Belgian had to repeat before the break.
And then former Gunner Kyle Bartley denied Abou Diaby with a brave sliding block inside the Swansea box.
But the closest either side came to scoring in the opening period was when Bartley headed Wayne Routledge’s inswinging cross against Wojciech Szczesny’s bar just before the 30-minute mark.
Arsenal’s best chance of the first half fell to their skipper just seconds before the interval, but Vermaelen’s sweeping effort, from a Walcott corner, was blocked by Vorm’s legs.
Inspired by Wilshere, the Gunners came out firing on all cylinders after the break, raising the spirits of the home supporters. Walcott clipped an effort just wide of the far post after being released by Diaby, and Santi Cazorla fired narrowly over the bar.
Giroud then flashed a header wide from Walcott’s corner before Chico Flores denied Wilshere a clean strike at goal.
Arsene Wenger’s men had cranked up the pressure and forced Swansea into two goal-line clearances in quick succession. First, Graham blocked Walcott’s close-range volley with his chest and then Leon Britton headed off the line from the subsequent corner.
With Arsenal laying siege on the Welshmen's goal, Swans' boss Michael Laudrup called his star man, Michu, from the bench but the Londoners continued to dominate.
Walcott and Giroud had further chances denied by Vorm, Sagna fired off target and the Dutch 'keeper was also required to keep out a Wilshere strike at the near post.
Swansea had barely ventured into their opponents’ half since the restart but another of Laudrup’s substitutes, Sung-Yueng Ki, on for Jonathan De Guzman, forced Szczesny into his first save of the evening as the final ten minutes approached. And Flores headed the resulting near post corner into the side netting.
The Gunners went down the other end and Sagna struck the far upright with an over-hit cross before Swansea cleared from the line twice more to further frustrate the Emirates faithful.
With Arsenal unable to convert their supremacy into goals, the game seemed destined for extra-time but man-of-the-match Wilshere popped up with four minutes remaining to hammer home the winner from 18 yards.
Brighton await Wilshere and Co. in Round Four on Saturday 26 January.