Thursday, 23 February 2017 19:36
Arsenal avoided an FA Cup giant-killing and spared manager Arsene Wenger further pressure with a hard-fought fifth-round victory over non-league Sutton United at Gander Green Lane.
Wenger made seven changes from the side thrashed 5-1 at Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie - and his players had enough to see off a team 105 places below them on English football's ladder.
Lucas Perez's cross-shot gave Arsenal the lead after 26 minutes and Theo Walcott doubled the advantage from close range 10 minutes after the break with his 100th goal for the club.
Victory set up a home quarter-final with another National League side, Lincoln City, who beat Burnley on Saturday.
Sutton had their moments, particularly when Adam May wasted a first-half chance from keeper David Ospina's poor clearance, and Roarie Deacon's fierce 25-yard drive struck the bar in the second half.
The result may have gone against them but the hosts emerged from this tie, and this FA Cup run, with huge credit.
Arsenal get the job done
Arsenal were on a hiding to nothing after a turbulent week in the wake of their Champions League mauling in Munich, which leaves them on the brink of elimination in the last 16 once more.
The Gunners walked out here with speculation mounting over the future of Wenger and familiar questions being asked about Arsenal's stomach for the fight when the season reaches its pressure points.
Their performance was uncertain and hardly designed to banish the criticism, although allowances must be made for a tricky artificial surface that was heavily saturated before kick-off and again at half-time.
It was simply a question of getting the job done and avoiding embarrassment. There was never going to be any credit in this for Arsenal. And on that basis this can be judged a satisfactory night. - BBC -