Arsenal ended Sutton United’s historic FA Cup run with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the non-league side at Gander Green Lane.
Goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott, the latter’s 100th for the club, were enough to see Arsenal through to their fourth straight FA Cup quarter-final.
Bright start from hosts
The hosts started brightly enough with fiery tackles and sturdy defensive work against a relatively strong Gunners side that retained David Ospina, Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Alex Iwobi from the 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich last Wednesday.
Former Gunners Craig Eastmond and Roarie Deacon were impressive against the club they starred at as youth players, Eastmond close to winning a penalty when he went down softly in the box in the first twenty minutes, however referee Michael Oliver correctly adjudged there was no contact from Nacho Monreal.
Perez opens the scoring
In the end, it was Perez, who continued to impress as he does in his limited appearances for the club, who bagged the opening goal, cutting inside on the right hand side and driving a low shot into Ross Worner’s far corner.
Walcott’s well-timed run across the sight of the goalkeeper may have put him off allowing the shot to creep past him but he’ll be aggrieved he didn’t do better.
Arsenal continued into the ascendancy and almost scored a second moments later, Worner was able to deny Monreal from close range and Jeff Reine-Adelaide slipped trying to shoot in a back pass from the Spaniard who remarkably kept the rebound in play.
Iwobi should have made it 2-0 before the break, another Gunners counter attack fell to the Nigerian but Dean Beckwith deflected his effort just wide of the goal.
Portsmouth loanee Adam May had Sutton’s best chance of the first half, a misplaced Ospina pass fell straight to the 19 year-old but he couldn’t punish the goalkeeper, putting it wide of the mark.
Mohamed Elneny, playing his first game since losing the AFCON Final with Egypt was replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain at half-time and the English midfielder certainly upped the tempo of Arsenal’s midfield play.
Walcott joins 100 club
He helped secure a second goal ten minutes after the restart, Nacho Monreal found himself in space on the left hand side and drilled in a low cross to Walcott who smashed home his 100th goal for the club in his 370th appearance.
The hosts never gave up hope however, Deacon’s cross to the back post nearly found Bedsente Gomis but Monreal nodded it away before the Frenchman could knock it in.
From the resulting corner, hero of a previous round and captain Jamie Collins rose above Ospina but his header was just wide.
Five minutes later, former Gunner Deacon nearly wrote his name into folklore, a long-range effort crashed off the bar and left the Colombian goalkeeper motionless.
In the end, the Premier League side held on for an easy 2-0 win, they will face another non-league side in the last eight, National League leaders Lincoln City who beat Premier League side Burnley in the fifth round will travel to the Emirates over the second weekend in March.