Wilshere relieves Arsenal's growing frustration
Arsenal 1 Swansea 0:It seemed crazy for Arsene Wenger to keep playing Jack Wilshere, the kid who had spent 17 months out injured, has not stopped running and chasing and coaxing and creating since he stepped back on to the pitch in October. Rest Wilshere? No chance.
He has become the inspirer in chief of Arsenal – the conductor, the driving force, the de facto leader. Having pushed his team with a blend of energy and imagination, he had his brilliance rewarded with an emphatic winner four minutes from the end to give his team an FA Cup shot in the arm against Swansea City.
Santi Cazorla plays a ball into the feet of Olivier Giroud, he laid the ball off to Wilshere who fired home a superb strike.
Arsenal were more or less at full strength but Swansea made six changes to the team that earned a point at Everton last weekend.
Despite the tinkering, new personnel didn’t hinder the general composure in Swansea’s game.
Arsenal carved out a series of promising positions in the first few minutes, which mainly fell to Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman was free to take aim three times. First he backheeled to nobody, then glanced in a header and whacked a low drive against the side netting.
But the best chance of the first half fell to Kyle Bartley, who ghosted between Arsenal’s static defenders at a set play to direct Wayne Routledge’s cross on to the bar.
Wilshere did his utmost to make things happen. One bright burst into the heart of the area created a chance for Walcott, only for Dwight Tiendalli to intervene.
Swansea goalkeeper Michel Vorm was rarely tested before on the stroke of half-time he showed sharp instincts to save with his legs from Vermaelen.
After the interval Walcott had a glorious chance. Abou Diaby’s crossfield pass was inviting. Walcott seared away from Chico Flores and attempted to chip Vorm but the ball drifted narrowly wide.
Then Wilshere teed up Cazorla whose rising shot blazed over the bar before Giroud dragged an ambitious left-footer wide.
Leon Britton intercepted to deny Walcott and Danny Graham chested off the line.
Britton was next with an emergency clearance from Giroud’s header.
The chances continued to flow. Giroud’s curler was saved while Walcott steered wide. Walcott flicked at Bacary Sagna’s cross only to watch the ball bounce back off the woodwork but Wilshere had the last vital word.