Arsenal held to draw by Swansea after late own goal
21:44 25 March 2014
Arsenal 2 Swansea City 2
A last-minute own goal from Mathieu Flamini denied Arsenal the morale-boosting victory they needed as Swansea deservedly claimed a point at the Emirates.
Wilfried Bony headed the visitors into an early lead, but substitute Lukas Podolski appeared to have got the Gunners out of jail after scoring the equaliser and setting up Olivier Giroud to make it 2-1 a minute later.
But the home side’s relief turned to despair on the stroke of full-time as Leon Britton’s effort was saved by Wojciech Szczesny, only to strike Flamini and roll into the net.
Seeking to make amends for their Stamford Bridge humiliation three days earlier, Arsenal made the better start and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain let fly with a volley that was clawed over by Michel Vorm.
But the Gunners were caught on the counter-attack and Neil Taylor made inroads on the left flank before supplying a cross for Bony to outjump Thomas Vermaelen and nod home on 11 minutes.
Arsenal’s immediate response was to apply a spell of pressure without creating much in the way of clear chances, although Per Mertesacker’s near-post header ruffled the side netting.
But Swansea continued to look dangerous when they got the opportunity to break and Michu galloped clear to set up Jonjo Shelvey, whose drive was blocked by Kieran Gibbs.
With the unflappable Ashley Williams marshalling the Swans’ back line to good effect, the home side’s advances foundered in frustrating manner and that mood of disaffection quickly filtered through the crowd.
Although Santi Cazorla danced his way through to force a save from Vorm just before half-time, it was no great surprise when the Arsenal fans booed their team off at the interval.
The Gunners did their best to pick up the pace at the start of the second half, but the final ball almost always proved beyond them and Swansea continued to defend stoutly.
Again, it was the visitors who carved out the best opportunity of the first 15 minutes as Jonathan de Guzman broke to find Michu, whose header should have troubled Wojciech Szczesny but sailed wide.
Tomas Rosicky took aim at the top corner but almost found the top tier – and, with the game entering its last 17 minutes, it looked as if Arsenal were poised for a second successive defeat.
But the turning point came when Gibbs stormed forward, got in behind Angel Rangel and crossed for Podolski to jab a volley into the Swansea net.
And, when Swansea surrendered possession straight from the kick-off, the Gunners attacked on the left flank again and this time Podolski supplied the cross for Giroud to smash home.
However, the Welsh side refused to fold and Shelvey and Bony both went close before Britton – a former Arsenal youth team player – burst forward to snatch a draw with a ricochet that hit Flamini and crossed the line.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Podolski 57), Rosicky (Kallstrom 79), Cazorla; Giroud (Sanogo 88).