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Centurion Theo helps fire Arsenal to the Quarter Finals

sutton arsenal match report fa cup

Match Review: Sutton Utd 0 Arsenal 2 - FA Cup 20.02.2017

A slight relief after a couple of weeks of horrors. The game against Sutton didn’t get close to the hype that had preceded it, Arsenal were okay, but nowhere near their best and Sutton played above their level to keep the score respectable. It was a difficult match to enjoy, as not only was it fairly dull, the BBC commentary was unbelievably annoying and difficult to listen to. I’m glad we got through and the commentators went home disappointed. I’m sure we’ll have to listen to it all over again in the next round though.

Wenger chose a strong team, probably looking to make absolutely sure we didn’t suffer a huge embarrassment. After the mauling in Munich, a defeat here would have been unthinkable and left him with an unprecedented crisis during his tenure. The Watford and Chelsea results, coupled with an unconvincing win over Hull meant that many people were hopeful of a upset and we could not afford that.

The commentators and pundits droned on incessantly about the magic of the cup, had a Sutton love in, a bit of #bantz about their enormous keeper etc. It was pretty nauseating and it didn’t stop once the game began either. They were all so caught up in the ‘fairytale’ that the awful challenges that Sutton were putting in were applauded and laughed about. ‘Proper tackle’ they said, as one of the Sutton defenders went flying in with two feet off the ground and caught Iwobi, when he could have easily stayed on his feet. To recap, the player was: reckless, out of control and endangered the other player. All of those satisfy the criteria for a red card. Instead, it was lauded as the magic of the cup.

Thankfully, the Arsenal players kept their heads and whilst the overall standard of play from them wasn’t that brilliant, they remained calm and did their job with professionalism. The 3G pitch was also a massive challenge and it took them I while to get used to it. Lucas Perez got the first goal, whipping a cross across the six yard box and despite Theo missing it completely, it went all the way in. Despite a number of half chances though, it was only 1-0 at half time. Some lovely play ten minutes into the second half resulted in the second, with Monreal squaring for Walcott to convert his 100th Arsenal goal. No wild celebrations, just a few pats on the back and a recognition that this was a game that they were fully expected to win without incident.

However there were some incidents and some players faired better than others. Ospina twice put us in trouble, once with an alarming pass out from the back and once flapping at a corner. Chamberlain replaced Elneny for the second half and gave away the ball in his own half in a similar way as he did at Bayern. The giveaway resulted in Deacon crashing a long shot against the bar and nearly allowed Sutton back into the game. Iwobi and Reine-Adelaide were both exceedingly average and looked on a totally different wavelength to the rest of the team, while Monreal looked very sketchy at left back.

In the end, we did what we needed to. Thanks to a very nice draw, we can look forward to facing Lincoln City at home in the next round. Without wanting to tempt fate, it’s a tie that should guarantee a Semi-Final berth. What’s more, one of Chelsea and United will be knocked out when the two face each other. It’s likely that Sp*rs will get through with a fairly simple tie at home to Millwall and City face a replay with Huddersfield and a trip to Middlesbrough. All things told, it’s likely we’ll face one of Sp*rs, Chelsea or City at Wembley, making the last two rounds of the cup very tricky.

The League Cup Final means that our game with Southampton has been postponed and we have no game at the weekend. In fact, we don’t play again until March when we travel to Anfield. It’ll be a key game not only for the race for the top four, but also to see how the squad is responding to the recent disappointments. Dare I say, it will be an indicator of how much Wenger has left in the tank to motivate this group and get results. There are a lot of tricky games left this year and we’ll need some points in them to keep our place in the top four. 

theo 100 goals for arsenal

Teams

Sutton United (4-4-2)

Warner, Downer, Beckwith (Spence 70’), Collins, Amankwaah, Bailey, May (Hudson-Odoi 71’), Eastmond, Gomis, Deacon, Biamou (Fitchett 82’)
Subs
Shaw, John, Hudson-Odoi, Fitchett, Spence, Monakana, Tubbs

Arsenal (4-2-3-1)

Ospina, Gabriel, Mustafi, Holding, Monreal, Xhaka, Elneny (Chamberlain 45’), Walcott, Reini-Adelaide (Maitland-Niles 74’), Iwobi (Alexis 74’), Lucas
Subs
Martinez, Debuchy, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Alexis, Chamberlain, Maitland-Niles

Player Ratings

Ospina - 5/10 - Made me want Szczesny back quite a lot
Gabriel - 6/10 - Did okay at right back
Holding - 7/10 - Had one nervy moment but dealt with it well
Mustafi - 7/10 - Solid
Monreal - 5/10 - Sketchy, an unusually nervy performance from him
Xhaka - 7/10 - Did a good job of distributing the ball
Elneny - 7/10 - Full of energy and running, but seems to have picked up an injury
Walcott - 6/10 - Picked up a goal but didn’t exactly shine
Reine-Adelaide - 5/10 - Was a passenger for most of the game, struggled to get involved
Iwobi - 5/10 - Looked miles away from what we know he can produce, poor game from him
Lucas - 8/10 - Surely has to be in contention to start more often, bags of talent
Subs
Chamberlain - 6/10 - One minute he’s tearing down the wing, the next giving the ball away, maddening player
Maitland-Niles - 7/10 - Only on for a while, but looked assured and a better prospect than Jeff
Alexis - 6/10 - Typically industrious and busy, but didn’t have much end product

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