Arsenal and Swansea prove that a horrible match can still be entertaining as the two sides face a replay after a dramatic 2-2 draw
After a dire first half Arsenal and Swansea City played a wild second half that saw four goals, a mountain of defensive mistakes and left us facing a replay at the Emirates Stadium.
Here's all you need to know about the first half: It was boring.
It was so boring that even the commentators were pleading just before halftime for both teams to pick things up a bit and consider the sanity of both themselves and the viewers. The two sides combined for only four shots on goal an most of the game was played outside of the attacking thirds.
The single most exciting moment (and the best chance we saw for an actual goal) came in the 36th minute when Swansea's Jonathan De Guzman sent a free kick in the box that defender Kyle Bartley headed off the cross bar. If that had gone in perhaps my feelings about the half would have been different...but it didn't go in, thus I want 45 minute of my life back.
Arsenal began the second half the aggressors, pinning Swansea back and making more in roads towards actually scoring in the first five minutes of the half than we'd seen all day.
The Gunners made a fairly loud penalty shout in the 52nd minute after Aaron Ramsey's heels were clipped by Dwight Tiendalli in the box. The referee wanted nothing to do with it and as you might expect, Ramsey wasn't pleased.
Arsenal were back minutes later as Olivier Giroud volleyed a short cross from Kieran Gibbs that was reflexively parried away by Michel Vorm. Geroud went to the ground after the shot with a cut above his knee, apparently from contact with the cleat of a Swansea defender Chico Flores.
Swansea head coach Michael Laudrup realized his side needed a lift and subbed in Michu who made an immediate impact.
In the 57th minute Arsenal's two central defenders absolutely embarrassed themselves. Laurent Koscielny failed to deal with Danny Graham who out muscled him before passing to Michu who cleverly chipped the ball over Per Mertesacker before running right past him towards goal. Mertesacker stumbled and neither Koscielny or Bacary Sagna could recover as Michu beat Wojciech Szczesny with a low shot, putting the Swans up 1-0.
Arsenal had a brilliant chance to equalize in the 65th minute when Ramsey put a cross in to the Swansea box where Flores had lost Giroud right in front of the goal. The French striker completely wasted the chance, sending his free header well wide of the post.
After several near misses and wasted chances, Arsenal finally took advantage of the sustained pressure they had put on Swansea after the goal. In the 81st minute Sagna headed a Theo Walcott cross back to the top of the box where Koscielny controlled it and quick turned and found Lukas Podolski. The German wasted no time beating Vorm to pull the Gunners even at 1-1.
Two minutes later Kieran Gibbs played an excellent one-two with Giroud and beat Vorm with a volley of Giroud's return ball, just over the goalkeepers outstretched hands, giving Arsenal a 2-1 lead.
Of course that lead only lasted four minutes.
More defensive nonsense hurt Arsenal as Gibbs made a poor clearance attempt that dropped right to Ki Sung-Yueng. Ki passed to Danny Graham who waited as Sagna went to ground far too early and then blasted his shot past a helpless Szczesny.
Both teams had chances to steal the win late. Koscielny's header off a Walcott corner was pushed away by an excellent save from Vorm. Meanwhile at the other end, Arsenal's defense got bent out of shape yet again but Dwight Tiendalli failed to take advantage of being wide open on the right side, sending his shot in to the side netting.
Sadly no one could find the winner and the two sides will meet again in a replay later this month.