Arsenal drop points after last-gasp equaliser

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Arsenal have snatched a 2-2 draw from the jaws of victory against Swansea City at the Emirates this evening, with what looked like a decisive second-half double inside a minute from Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud cancelled out by a last-gasp own goal from Mathieu Flamini.

The Gunners trailed for more than an hour on a disastrous night for their fleeting title hopes and Champions League aspirations, but very nearly got out of jail despite looking devoid of ideas and inspiration for the majority of the match.

In the very early stages Arsene Wenger's men actually began with purpose and intensity as they looked to respond from Saturday's capitulation at Chelsea with verve and conviction, but memories of that collapse were brought flooding back by a clinical header from Wilfried Bony to break the deadlock inside 11 minutes.

Bony towered above Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen on his return to the starting lineup, turning Swansea's first attack of the match into one of meaning and menace as he smartly turned Neil Taylor's looping cross into the bottom corner for his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.

The Gunners quickly got back on the front foot but struggled to turn possession into meaningful chances, with Per Mertesacker heading into the side-netting before Olivier Giroud's deflected drive from distance arrowed well wide of the target.

Frustration was the overriding theme of a testing first half for the Gunners, with Santi Cazorla spurning their best chance of the opening period after scooping a low strike from close range within reachable range of Swans stopper Michel Vorm.

Arsene Wenger sent his side out two minutes early for the second half with the task clear, avoid a crushing home loss and stop the looming danger of a battle for the fourth and final Champions League spot, with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in hot pursuit.

Up until the hour mark though Swansea looked relatively comfortable, with Wayne Routledge and Jonathan de Guzman covering with pace and focus on the flanks.

Wenger eventually made a change to combat a lack of forward runners in key areas on 57 minutes, although his decision to swap Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Lukas Podolski was met with its fair share of groans from the home fans.

That choice came so close to having a decisive impact on the match, with Podolski providing the killer touch to Arsenal's best of the match as the hosts drew level in the 73rd minute.

Podolski prodded home from close range for his eighth of the season after a clever run to break free in the penalty area, but Kieran Gibbs deserves much of the credit for bursting to the by-line and picking out a quality final ball which was begging to be finished by the German international.

Less than a minute later Podolski turned provider for Giroud with a barnstorming run down the left flank as Arsenal robbed possession from the Swansea kick-off, allowing the lone striker space to fire in at the near post and complete a remarkably swift turnaround.

Arsenal handed Kim Kallstrom a late home debut in their efforts to see out a morale-boosting home win, but Swansea were not done and drove a dagger through any fleeting, flickering title aspirations with an equaliser two minutes short of full time.

Former Gunners youngster Leon Britton was the man who made a telling contribution with the clock ticking down, wriggling free of Per Mertesacker from close range and flicking towards goal.

Mertesacker's attempted last-ditch tackle on the diminutive playmaker bounced off Wojciech Szczesny and into the path of covering Mathieu Flamini, who saw the ball take another cruel turn off his foot and into the back of the net as Swansea's efforts were rewarded with a valuable point on the road.

Arsenal fans were left with a sinking feeling as four added minutes failed to yield another fightback, with soul-searching urgently required in the Arsenal dressing room to ensure their proud Champions League record stays intact.

Things could have got even worse for the Gunners before the full-time whistle in a bizarre final passage of play, which saw referee Lee Probert blow up despite De Guzman breaking beyond the halfway line with room to run free towards Szczesny and defensive cover in short supply.

The absence of key players in a whole host of positions may offer some excuse for another lacklustre display, although with Manchester City and Everton their next two opponents there is no room for Arsenal to feel sorry for themselves as what may be a surprise late dogfight for the fourth and final Champions League spot begins to take shape.

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Swansea City
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