Arsene Wenger was left astonished by Sutton’s performance on Monday as Arsenal fought hard to advance to the quarterfinal of the FA Cup.
Arsenal took on non-league side Sutton United at Gander Green Lane in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday with a place in the quarterfinal on the line. Arsene Wenger selected a strong side to face the unheralded hosts even as he made seven changes to the Arsenal side that lost to Bayern Munich in the midweek.
But it was hard work for Wenger’s men as they struggled to carve out clear cut chances for large parts of the match and only managed four shots on target. Two of these shots came from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott who struck either side of half-time to ensure Arsenal’s qualification through to the sixth round.
In the aftermath of the match, Arsene Wenger was full of praise for Sutton who stood toe to toe with Arsenal for large parts of the match and left the Frenchman “astonished”. Asked in his post-match press conference on getting the ‘job done’ against Sutton, he said, “Yes, against a side that was astonishing.
“[I was surprised] by the speed of their game. They kept going and we were never really in a position where we could really afford to have a little breather in the game. We had to keep our focus, and I must give credit to my players who were professional and kept their focus.”
Lucas Perez was adjudged the man of the match for a complete performance in attack, as he opened the scoring for Arsenal midway through the first half. The goal from his cross-shot was the ninth goal he has been directly involved in his last 8 starts for Arsenal and he is pushing for a more regular role in the side.
Pressed on about Perez getting more game time in future matches, Wenger said, “Yes, he is pushing on the door but I have many strikers. I have Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Alexis and Lucas. It is true that he deserves a go because he scores goals and is a good player.”
The result set up a quarterfinal date with another non-league side, Lincoln City next month, and eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger who came under fire after the humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich last week.
And the Arsenal manager would be hoping that his side can start a winning run to end the season in strong fashion. Wenger’s men would need to raise their performance levels to do that, though, with the difficult trip to Liverpool beckoning in two weeks’ time.