Arsenal booked a spot in the last eight of the FA Cup after overcoming a potential banana skin to ease to a 2-0 victory at non-league Sutton United.
The U's belied the 105-place chasm between the two teams with a spirited display, but despite hitting the crossbar through ex-Gunner Roarie Deacon just past the hour, the hosts never truly looked like pulling off a major shock.
Lucas Perez's first-half cross-shot was followed by Theo Walcott's 100th goal for Arsenal after the break to set up a quarter final meeting with National League leaders, Lincoln City on the weekend of Saturday, March 11.
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Arsene Wenger named just four players who featured in the 5-1 Champions League humbling at Bayern Munich and although his second string did enough to secure safe passage into the next round, the win will do little to silence the detractors who want his 21st season at the helm to be his last.
Paul Doswell's non-league outfit played with real desire throughout and restricted the Premier League giants for large spells. Adam May had a chance to level but blazed wide after a miscued clearance from David Ospina, while Jamie Collins headed over.
Arsenal handled the tie with real professionalism and Wenger will be happy to come through unscathed after a week where his position as manager has come under great scrutiny.

A fan takes a selfie on the pitch with Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez after the match

Image credit: Reuters


Would another FA Cup success be enough for Wenger? After the Bayern beating, the Frenchman could not afford a Sutton shock. Arsenal navigated what was effectively a no-win situation and the tricky 3G football turf pitch and are now within shouting distance of another Wembley appearance.

Arsene Wenger at Sutton

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This competition represents his only realistic hope of silverware this term and with another non league side in the shape of Lincoln next up, the semi-finals look a good prospect for the Gunners. There are still some big teams left in the cup so they are far from favourites, but Wenger has had great success in this competition and would love to land a record seventh FA Cup as manager. He claims he will be managing again 'somewhere' next season, but even securing more silverware and a top four finish may not be enough to ensure it's at Emirates Stadium.


Sutton: Worner 7, Amankwaah 7, Downer 7, Collins 7, Beckwith 7, Deacon 8, Bailey 7, Eastmond 7, May 7, Gomis 7, Biamou 7. Subs: Spence 7, Hudson-Odoi 6, Fitchett n/a.
Arsenal: Ospina 6, Gabriel 6, Mustafi 6, Holding 6, Monreal 7, Elneny 5, Xhaka 6, Lucas 8, Reine-Adelaide 6, Iwobi 6, Walcott 7. Subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Maitland-Niles 6, Sanchez 7.


Lucas Perez (Arsenal). The Spaniard netted his seventh of the season and showed a real appetite for the contest. His opportunities to start have been limited but he has shown himself to be a reliable goalscorer when given the nod.

Lucas Perez is congratulated by team-mates

Image credit: Reuters


27' - GOAL! SUTTON 0-1 ARSENAL. After labouring from the kick off the visitors break forward and open the scoring. Lucas cuts in from the right on a counter attack. The forward curves a devilish low ball towards the far post and sees it fly beyond everyone and into the corner. Walcott tried to flick it home but missed his kick and bamboozled the keeper.
43' - ARSENAL CHANCE. Arsenal counter at pace. It's worked to Iwobi eight yards out but he steers his shot inches wide of the post via a deflection off Dean Beckwith.
45 ' - SUTTON CHANCE. Ospina's weak clearance flies straight at Adam May who races into the area before firing wide of the near post. Let off for the Arsenal stopper.
55' - GOAL! SUTTON 0-2 ARSENAL. It's two and it's ton up for Walcott. The forward coolly fires home at the far post after a lovely move had allowed Monreal to get free and cross from the left of the area.
57' - SUTTON CHANCE. May wriggles free on the left of the area and tucks it back for Maxime Biamou who drills a low shot straight at Ospina.

Arsenal's Gabriel Paulista in action with Sutton United's Kevin Amankwaah

Image credit: Reuters

61' - SUTTON CHANCE. Huge opportunity for the hosts to reduce the arrears. Ospina is in No Man's Land from the right wing corner, but Collins thunders his header from eight yards over the top.
65' - SUTTON HIT THE BAR! Deacon lets fly from 25 yards and sees his shot smash back off the crossbar. So unlucky.


Arsenal have won 18 of their last 20 matches in the FA Cup (D1, L1).
Perez has been directly involved in nine goals in his last eight starts for Arsenal in all comps (six goals, three assists).
Arsenal have won 10 and lost none of their last 12 FA Cup matches against non-league sides (D2).
Theo Walcott is the 18th player to score 100 goals in all competitions for Arsenal.


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