Arsene Wenger 'astonished' by Sutton's performance as Arsenal progress in FA Cup

20 February 2017 11:38

Arsene Wenger admits the performance of non-league Sutton was "astonishing" as they offered a stern test to his Arsenal side before falling to FA Cup defeat.

The Gunners travelled to the humble surroundings of Gander Green Lane for the fifth-round meeting as Wenger named a strong starting line-up with goals from Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott sealing a 2-0 win.

Wenger's side will now face another Vanarama National League outfit in Lincoln for a spot in the semi-final after this examination of character following last week's Champions League capitulation at Bayern Munich.

That result led to increased speculation that Wenger would leave the club when his contract expires in the summer, and the Frenchman has said he will make a decision in the next two weeks.

But he will not be considering a job in the National League after seeing the challenge offered by Sutton.

Asked if was a case of job done, he replied: "Yes, against a side that was astonishing.

"They are basically in division five and they are 17th out of 24. I will never go down there (to manage) because it is too difficult.

"I come from a club that is smaller than that so it reminds me of my childhood. The changing rooms for me were fantastic - the closer you are, the more united you are when you go out there."

Wenger also admitted he was caught out by Sutton's display and believes that justified naming such a strong side, with the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Perez also starting and Alexis Sanchez coming off the bench.

"(I was surprised) by the speed of their game," he said.

"The fact they never stopped going until the end and compared to 20 years ago these teams are fit now and can play at the pace of the Premier League, maybe before they collapsed in the last 20 minutes, that is finished.

"We had to keep our focus, I must give credit to the players who were professional and kept their focus, if we had come here in a relaxed mood we would have gone out tonight because they produced quality.

"We could not afford a light team selection tonight and that is why I came with basically all the players who were available because we couldn't afford to go out tonight, we can never afford it."

Sutton boss Paul Doswell echoed his counterpart's sentiments and declared his happiness with the hosts' display.

"Five letters - proud," he said.

"I'm very, very proud of them. We asked them to give everything they had and they gave us that.

"When you see Adam May before half-time and Jamie Collins' header from six yards, Roarie smacks the bar - you do need one of those to go in.

"I'd love to have got a goal for the supporters. One of my little goals was to do better than Southampton and we have done that.

"They lost 5-0 to them and we lost 2-0 so in my mind that's a moral victory."

Source: PA