Yesterday's game was an outstanding display of energy, flair, passion, desire and skill. And the end result was a 3-0 win to a very youthful Arsenal side.
The line up yesterday was:
Hoyte – Song – Djourou – Gibbs
Wilshere – Ramsey – Randall – Merida
Vela – Simpson
An exciting starting XI and Simpson coming into the team was a good test for him. That was the only change from the side that beat Sheffield United 6-0 and it would be a sterner test against very good Premiership opposition. Wigan and Steve Bruce are no fools and the team include their strongest XI with the likes of Zaki, Koumas, Valencia, Palacios etc.
But it was a test that the team passed. The one great thing about yesterday’s performance was the quality of football. Such an energetic performance meant that this game was fast and flowing. In terms of entertainment, this squad is definitely up there. It was one of those game, where you just didn’t want to miss a minute.
The game started well, and the focus was evident from the beginning. The one and two passing game was their, but Wigan were a stronger opposition than Sheffield United and proved more intent on stopping us play. But on the 42nd minute, an “eye of a needle” pass from Jack Wilshere set up fellow teenager Jay Simpson to tuck the ball under the advancing keeper and get on the scoresheet for his first start for the club in the first team. It was goal that we thoroughly deserved. It could of been at least 3-0 by half time as we certainly had the chances.
The second half started in a similar vein. In terms of entertainment, the game was up there. With Wigan, their top players, Koumas, Valencia, De Ridder and Zaki were really playing well, but couldn’t really get the ball. It wasn’t too long until we added a second when a amazing counter-attack with blistering pace from the Carlos Vela ended with the young Mexican squaring for Simpson to sidefoot home.
The third followed a few minutes later when Vela outpaced Titus Bramble and went on to chip Chris Kirkland with a stunning lob. This goal is really some goal of the season. Two touches, one to lay himself on, the other to lob the keeper. Amazing. The goal was similar to the effort in the crushing of Sheffield United in the previous round, and Carlos Vela has definitely shone in this competition.
Arsenal: Fabianski, Hoyte, Song Billong, Djourou, Gibbs, Wilshere (Bischoff 76), Randall, Ramsey, Merida, Simpson (Lansbury 76), Vela (Fonte 84).
Subs Not Used: Mannone, Coquelin, Ogogo, Frimpong.
Goals: Simpson 42, 66, Vela 70.
Wigan: Kirkland, Cattermole (Brown 67), Boyce, Bramble, Melchiot, Valencia, Koumas (Camara 58), Palacios, De Ridder, Figueroa, Zaki.
Subs Not Used: Kingson, Taylor, Scharner, Kilbane, Cywka.
Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).
Arsene was particularly pleased after the game and had a quick interview in regards to the game. He said:
“I enjoyed every minute of it because it was a big test for such a young team with many Under-18 players involved. I believe we stood up to the test and it was a remarkable combination of desire, energy and quality. From the first to the last minute we looked up for it and were relentless in having a go at Wigan. In the end it was a fantastic win. I keep them together to see how far they can go. I see them in training and they are good but when you turn up against a Premier League side, that is a different challenge; now I know they can turn up and produce. It is interesting going into the Quarter-Final and I will keep them altogether, but you will always need experience. Don’t forget the goalkeeper and the two defenders have good experience and they had an important role at important times in the game.”
For those of you who watched Sky Sports, Steve Bruce’s interview was pretty decent. He said something like, we turned up and got thrashed by these kids. He had praise for our team but was obviously disappointed in his.
Two goal hero, Jay Simpson has been reflecting on his striking ability and said:
“When I was growing up I used to watch Ian Wright and that’s what made me an Arsenal fan. I had posters of him on my wall. I met Wright once, it was quite a while ago at my first Arsenal match at Highbury. I met him in the tunnel and I was starstruck, I didn’t know what to say to him! He shook my hand and I didn’t know what to do! I was nine at the time. He’s still an Arsenal fan and he would have been happy to see the English players out there tonight. I played on the wing for Millwall so my runs from wide positions have improved a lot. It was a whole new position to adapt to, especially with how Millwall play because it wasn’t about getting the ball down and playing a passing game. It was about making runs in behind. If I got it to feet you would go down the line and cross it whereas at Arsenal you would normally pass it, so it’s a lot different. Also I went up and spoke to Emmanuel Adebayor before the game and he gave me a bit of advice which paid off on the pitch. He told me that when I am shooting, just make sure I hit the target, don’t concentrate too much on power. I scored a hat-trick in the Youth Cup at Emirates Stadium but this is a lot more special, especially because I am an Arsenal fan. I would have been happy with one so to get two is great. Now all of us want a big side, we want to test ourselves. That’s what it’s all about, playing against the big teams, the big-name players and seeing what you can do against them. If we get Manchester United or Liverpool, we’d want them to put out their first team because it would show they’ve got respect for us. I’d be delighted if we got them in the next round.”
It’s funny what Ade said to Jay considering that Ade nearly always misses the target.
It was a good day out for everyone involved. Bring on the quarter finals.