Late goal from Jack Wilshere sends Arsenal into fourth round
Wilshere was impressive, Swansea coach agrees, but don't put pressure on him to be a 'superstar'
Arsenal 1 Swansea 0. Jack Wilshere saved Arsenal's blushes at an ice-cold Emirates on Wednesday evening. The young midfielder scored the only goal of the FA Cup replay against Swansea to send the Gunners through to a fourth-round clash with Brighton.
Wilshere apart it was another poor display from Arsenal, who had 26 attempts at goal but through a combination of poor finishing and good Swansea defending had to wait until 86 minutes to finally get the ball in the visitors' net.
The vital move began with Santi Cazorla picking out Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman then deftly flicked the ball into the path of Wilshere whose shot from the edge of the area beat the outstretched hand of Swansea keeper Michel Vorm.
It was tough on Vorm, who along with his defence had denied Arsenal for the previous 85 minutes, though they were helped by the shoddy striking skills of both Theo Walcott and Giroud. Both missed a string of chances as Arsenal laid siege to the Swansea goal in a frantic effort to keep alive their season.
"It was unbelievable that we couldn't score, but we got it in the end," admitted Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger later. "We persevered and were rewarded and we had a good performance… It is important that we continue to develop like that as a team."
Swansea, who won their league encounter at the Emirates last month 2-0, were the more lively of the two teams in what was a disappointing first-half overall. The clearest chance fell to Kyle Bartley but the former Gunner saw his header smack across the crossbar.
Arsenal improved after the break with Wilshere the driving force behind their creativity. "He was outstanding tonight," agreed Wenger when asked about the 21-year-old's performance. "I think he is a complete midfielder. He can defend and attack. He is a guy who can dribble and give a final ball so the closer he is to the goal the better it is from there."
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup was also impressed with Wilshere's display but cautioned against trying to turn him into the next Great Hope of English football.
"I think he has a lot of potential but I don't think we should push young players too much," said Laudrup, one of the best midfielders of his generation. "People are too fast with the big words. We have to let them grow. Don't put that pressure on him to be a superstar."
Wilshere wasn't acting the superstar when asked about the goal, praising Giroud for the "great set-up". As for the trip to Brighton on Saturday week, Wilshere is expecting a challenge from the Championship side. "We know Brighton play football," he said, "they play great football."