On a ‘Third-round FA Cup weather’ night, as described by a commentator, holders Arsenal faced Sunderland at home. The Emirates had a high attendance, but it was not the usual night where you couldn’t find a seat which is not taken. Arsene Wenger made changes to the team that beat Newcastle in the Premier League.
Gabriel, Kieran Gibbs, Calum Chambers, Joel Campbell, all coming back into the team and youngster Alex Iwobi was offered his second first team start for the Gunners. Petr Cech was expected to be rested and make way for David Ospina, but a late groin injury to the Columbian meant the Veteran started at goal.
As the game begun, it was Sunderland who had their first shot on goal when Lens dragged a shot wide in the early minutes of the game. Kieran Gibbs’ shot at the other end was saved by their young goalkeeper, some might argue that Gibbs could have crossed Walcott at the far post. Sunderland, at the 17th minute, took a surprising lead due to a silly mistake by Laurent Koscielny. Lens got hold of the possession on the edge of the box and coolly slotted past the left of Petr Cech, who did not expect the Frenchman to lose the ball like he did.
The holders did not stumble and portrayed absolute professionalism while going forward as well as defending. They looked quite comfortable in possession and were playing the ‘Arsenal Way’. And hence, at the 26th minute, the equalizer came in the form of Joel Campbell. Alex Iwobi found Theo Walcott on the left side of the box, the Englishman then ran to the line and cut the ball back for the arriving Costa Rican to put the ball into the bottom right of the net.
Youngster Alex Iwobi impressed with his quick and powerful passing, and also the attacking intent. The Nigerian dropped to pick balls and made good runs. There were a couple of chances for him and Theo Walcott, but the game went 1-1 into halftime.
Minutes into the second half, Iwobi found Joel Campbell at a prime area near the line, but nobody was on the receiving end when the Costa Rican cut the ball back. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed his composure at the central midfield role and almost saw himself on the score sheet when a curling shot hit the far post.
There were then some good chances that fell to both the teams but none could capitalize. This caused Arsene Wenger to prompt a double change in the 67th minute, bringing on Aaron Ramsey and Mikael Arteta for Alex Iwobi and Calum Chambers respectively. The Welshman seemed in fine form and troubled the away team with his direct running and passing.
Six minutes after coming on, Ramsey scored. Right back Hector Bellerin played a one-two with Joel Campbell and put in a low cross for Ramsey who opened his body and put the ball in the net. Theo Walcott could perhaps, take a note of that technique, as he shot straight at the Goalkeeper on a similar case, but from the left side.
Two minutes later, Bellerin got himself his second assist after he put a low pass to Olivier Giroud at the far end which saw the Frenchman score. Chamberlain played a beautiful pass to the Spaniard for this goal. It did seem like Arsenal could have gone rampant and scored more, but the game ended at 3-1 and Arsenal qualify into the fourth round of the FA Cup.
So, that’s for the FA Cup. Liverpool in the League is next up. Until then!