Arsenal V Swansea at Emirates Stadium - Match Preview

Vermaelen still focused on cup success

Captain Thomas Vermaelen is adamant Arsenal can still achieve their FA Cup "destiny" as they prepare to take on Swansea in a third-round replay at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners were lambasted as "timid" by manager Arsene Wenger after going down 2-0 at home to Manchester City as their Barclays Premier League ambitions suffered another setback on Sunday.

However, with a fourth-round tie at npower Championship side Brighton awaiting the winners of the tie, hopes of ending an eight-year trophy drought could well be rekindled if Arsenal can find their form against the Swans.

Vermaelen was an unused substitute at the Liberty Stadium last weekend, but the Belgian centre-back saw enough from his side's showing in the 2-2 draw - when they had fought back well to lead going into the final three minutes - to be confident of a positive conclusion.

"Looking at the Swansea game in its entirety, I think we deserved to win. We had plenty of chances and I don't think anybody could have complained if we had gone through to the next round," Vermaelen said.

"At 2-1 up that late in the game, you would like to see it through. It is never nice to concede in the final few minutes, but we will look forward to the replay and feel that our FA Cup destiny lies in our own hands."

Swansea could yet be heading to Wembley in the Capital One Cup, having beaten Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in the first-leg of their semi-final. In the other tie, npower League Two side Bradford - who had knocked out Arsenal on penalties in the previous round - also pulled off a shock 3-1 home win over Aston Villa.

Vermaelen feels teams can no longer view any matches as walkovers.

"Last week's results are just further evidence that the level in England is constantly rising," Vermaelen added in the official Arsenal matchday magazine.

"The lower teams, if you can call them that any more, are drawing closer to the top.

"They all have strong, athletic players who give you a tough time.

"There are not any easy games in the Premier League nowadays. The standard is going up and up, whomever you are playing against."

With a trip to Chelsea on Sunday, Arsenal could certainly have done without a replay, where they will be without defender Laurent Koscielny after his red card against City and injured midfielder Mikel Arteta.

Wenger felt his men paid a heavy price for not closing out the tie after they had recovered from going behind to Michu's goal just before the hour.

"After going 2-1 up I felt we were a bit too nervous in some situations and lacked defensive serenity," he said.

"Hopefully this will change and we will gain some more confidence defensively."

Swansea manager Michael Laudrup hopes his side's excellent record in London can extend.

The Swans have lost just once in five visits to the capital so far this season, and have racked up notable victories at the Emirates Stadium and Stamford Bridge.

The Welsh club head back to the home of the Gunners after a 2-2 draw at the first attempt at the Liberty Stadium.

The 1-0 defeat at Tottenham last month is the only blot on their copybook in the capital, with the other four games ending in wins over QPR, Arsenal, Fulham and Chelsea.

That improvement in away form has helped Laudrup's side to a run of just two defeats in their last 17 games in all competitions, and the Dane is hoping for more of the same when they meet an Arsenal side without the injured Mikel Arteta and suspended Laurent Koscielny.

He said: "I like London, we have only lost to Tottenham there.

"We have done really well there and it's also more than two months where we have only lost two games, and apart from those two the last defeat was to Manchester City, the Premier League champions, away.

"This gives us a lot of confidence which is important because when you make changes and people come in, they fit in and feel that confidence.

"I feel now that most of the squad feel they are an important part of the team."

Laudrup is likely to again make changes to his side in the midst of a hectic January schedule, but will have to do without new signing Roland Lamah, who has joined on an 18-month loan from Osasuna.

The 25-year-old winger cannot play as he was not registered at the time of the original tie.

Source: PA

Source: PA