Arsenal’s superior quality ultimately told as they put in a businesslike performance to get past Sutton in the FA Cup on Monday night.
For the most part it was a collected, tidy performance that ensured Sutton were unable to get a head of steam going, and the crowd was kept nicely subdued. In short, the Gunners did everything that had to do to get through the tie.
So often, bigger teams can be panicked into silly mistakes or tighten up under pressure in David vs Goliath tussles like these but, mercifully, Arsenal resisted the temptation to do just that.
They dominated the exchanges in midfield and broke with the sort of pace that a team of Sutton’s calibre were simply unable to handle. Goals for Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott were hard-earned reward for their efforts.
Although few Gunners fans would have been supremely confident going into the match, particularly after such a rotten few weeks for the club, it was nice at least to see the team perform as they should, with pace and with a bit of fight.
Ultimately, though, it was only non-league Sutton and only a victory would have done, and a convincing victory at that.
Most of the team played well enough, with stand out efforts from Lucas Perez and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, in particular. The former has done more than enough to force his way into Arsene Wenger’s first team plans and I fully expect to see him start at Anfield in a few weeks time.
I can’t really think of a valid reason why he shouldn’t at this point. He was busy throughout the match and again impressed with his attacking ambition. If he can add defensive discipline, he should really make that left wing spot his own.
Chamberlain, arriving at the half-time break, impressed once more in the middle of midfield. As with Lucas, the Ox was full of running and was involved all over the pitch. He is really taking his chance in the engine room and, again, I can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t retain his position in the team looking ahead.
Good performances should be rewarded with first-team opportunities and both Perez and Chamberlain have earned that much.
As for Alex Iowbi, he really did have an evening to forget. Everything he tried simply failed to come off. He consistently lost the ball and his passing was rank – a bad night at the end of a bad run for the youngster. I think a spell on the sidelines will do him good and remove him from the firing line.
All things considered, it was a reasonable performance from Arsenal. They weren’t as ruthless as many might have liked but they did exactly what they needed to do, and it was largely a trouble free night for David Ospina, bar a few self-inflicted calamities.
One thing is for sure, though, they will have to perform a hell of a lot better at Anfield if they are to stand any chance of picking up a result. They were careless in possession on quite a few occasions against Sutton and, while you can easily get away with it against a non-league side, there is no doubt that Liverpool will tear us to pieces if we do the same in the league.
For now, it’s a job well done and on to the next round where, again, we face non-league opposition. Get past Lincoln at the Emirates and we’ll find ourselves in a Wembley semi-final, with a decent chance of reaching the showpiece.
This team is more than capable but will it produce when it matters? Your guess is as good as mine.