Graham rescues Swansea after Arsenal late show

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The Independent Online

It is seven years, seven months and 17 days since Arsenal won their last trophy and, at times yesterday, it felt like the ticking of that proverbial clock was the force that drove Arsène Wenger's team back into the tie.

With nine minutes left they were on their way out of the FA Cup, the last competition which they have a realistic chance of winning and the players knew what was coming. The prospect of eight years without a trophy.

In fact, it took no small measure of character from Wenger's side to drag themselves back into the match with Lukas Podolski's equaliser and then Kieran Gibbs's brilliant second which seemed to have the game won. Then in the last few minutes they threw it away when Danny Graham scored the equaliser that means they will meet at the Emirates a week on Wednesday, the winner away to Brighton.

That was the best and the worst of Arsenal. They were badly embarrassed by Michu's goal on 58 minutes, a mere 73 seconds after he came on as a substitute yet they dominated possession for long periods. They were flat-footed for Graham's goal, having sliced through Swansea at the other end.

Afterwards Laudrup conceded that the replay does not make life any easier for him. From Wednesday, his team will face six games in 20 days, including two Capital One Cup semi-finals against Chelsea. Wenger has never lost in the FA Cup third round and this would be a very bad time to break that habit. English football has changed since he arrived in 1996 and sides like Swansea with their young foreign manager and astute foreign signings can more than compete.

As for the FA Cup, it remains Arsenal's best chance of a trophy and as such demands to be taken seriously.