FA Cup: Sutton 0-2 Arsenal


Lucas Perez is congratulated by team-mates after scoring Arsenal's opener

Arsenal avoided an FA Cup upset with a 2-0 win over National League side Sutton United at Gander Green Lane to set up a quarter-final clash with Lincoln City.


Sutton more than held their own throughout the 90 minutes but they were behind in the 27th minute after Lucas Perez's strike broke the deadlock.

After the break, Theo Walcott grabbed his 100th Arsenal goal in the 55th minute to ease the Premier League side's nerves. But Sutton continued to look for a way back into the tie and were inches away from making it an uncomfortable ending for the Gunners, but Roarie Deacon's powerful shot cannoned back off the crossbar.

However, it was Arsenal who held on to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Arsene Wenger and progress into the last eight for the fourth consecutive season where they will face another side from the fifth-tier in Lincoln at the Emirates Stadium on the weekend of March 11.

Arsenal recalled Walcott after their 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich in midweek and he was handed the captain's armband, leading out a strong side named by Wenger.

Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Perez were all included while Alexis Sanchez was named on the bench for the trip to Gander Green Lane. Sutton, who upset Cheltenham Town, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United on their way to the fifth round started well, matching the Premier League side in the early stages.

Wenger had concerns over Sutton's artificial pitch before kick-off and the heavily-watered surface could have played a part in his side's slow start Ex-Arsenal youngster Craig Eastmond thought he should have had a penalty after beating Nacho Monreal, but referee Michael Oliver waved away the Sutton appeals.

However, the 12-time winners were soon ahead after Xhaka's pass released Perez down the right wing. The 28-year-old cut inside onto his left foot before firing a low drive past the dive of goalkeeper Ross Worner.

Walcott powered a long-range strike over the bar before Alex Iwobi saw his shot turned behind by Worner as Arsenal started to hit their straps. But it was Sutton who went closest to an equaliser just before the break when David Ospina presented the ball to Adam May but the forward wasted the chance, shooting wide from inside the area.

The National League side were punished shortly after the break when Walcott turned in Nacho Monreal's cross at the far post to bring his ton up for the club.

Sutton's moment to remember almost came with a little over half an hour to go as another former Gunner, Deacon, rattled the crossbar with a brilliant dipping effort from 25 yards.

Wenger, whose side sit 105 positions above their hosts in the English football pyramid, clearly felt the tie was not completely sewn up as he turned to Sanchez with 20 minutes remaining, but the Chilean was not required to produce any heroics with Sutton's challenge dwindling as fatigue set in.

It was not a convincing performance from the visitors but they got the job done and for Wenger this was respite after a fortnight which saw his hopes of winning the Premier League or the Champions League all but end. And, with a home tie against Lincoln in the next round, a record 13th FA Cup win remains a possibility for Arsenal and the Frenchman.


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