My Soccer World

Football: Simpson Shines As Arsenal’s Youths Crush Wigan

Posted on: November 12, 2008

LONDON: Arsenal remarkable band of youngsters delivered another breathtaking performance to crush Wigan 3-0 in the League Cup fourth round on Tuesday.

Jay Simpson’s first two goals for the north Londoners and a jaw-dropping third from Carlos Vela ensured Arsene Wenger’s side cruised into the quarter-finals and left Wigan nursing severely bruised egos.

It was no surprise to see Wenger treat this tie as a sort of after-hours kindergarden – the Frenchman has been using the League Cup to blood his young players since his appointment in north London in 1996.

Even so, it was still startling to witness a side with an average age of just 19 out-class a Wigan team which showed just one change from their last Premier League game against Stoke.

But this, of course, is no ordinary collection of tyros.

Arsenal had shown a similarly ruthless streak in dismantling Sheffield United in the third round, the Championship club crushed 6-0, but while Wigan manager Steve Bruce tried desperately to avoid similar ignominy by flooding midfield, his ploy failed dismally.

His team simply had no answer to Arsenal’s creative exuberance and only some inspired goalkeeping by Chris Kirkland stopped a total humiliation.

The England hopeful – watched by his national manager Fabio Capello – was forced into action in the 15th minute, when he raced from his line to smother at Vela’s feet after the Mexican had dithered over his shot. He then flicked out his fingertips to divert Simpson’s follow-up drive onto the crossbar.

Arsenal, encouraged by their frenetic start, duly laid siege. Kieran Gibbs latched onto Fran Merida’s pass and slammed his shot against Kirkland at the near post and Aaron Ramsey saw a well struck free-kick palmed aside by the goalkeeper, just as it seemed sure to nestle in the roof of the net.

And that was not the end of Arsenal’s frustrations. In the 24th minute, the lively Vela – infuriating one minute, intoxicating the next – had one of his more inspired moments, curling a delicious left-footed shot towards the top corner.

The 19-year-old was virtually wheeling away in celebration when Kirkland somehow flung out his right glove to tip the ball around the post.

Arsenal’s exuberant football deserved a goal and, two minutes before the interval, they had it. Just for once, it was crafted entirely in England: Jack Wilshere, drifting in from the right wing, delivered a delightfully weighted pass that dissected the Wigan centre-halves and allowed Simpson to stretch out

a long leg and poke the ball through Kirkland’s legs.

Wigan should have been awarded a penalty when Johan Djourou handled in the area, while Amr Zaki might have done better than shoot tamely at Lukasz Fabianski from an inviting angle.

It was a costly miss. In the 66th minute a lightning break saw Ramsey deliver another picture-perfect pass to Vela, who skipped away from Emmerson Boyce and squared to Simpson, who showed admirable composure to lash into the net.

Moments later, it was Vela’s turn to shine. The teenager had capped victory against Sheffield United with a mesmerising lob, and proved that was no fluke with an equally dazzling chipped finish over Kirkland.

There was still time for a coup de grace, Fabianski saving brilliantly from Daniel De Ridder and then somehow tipping Zaki’s follow-up onto the crossbar as he dived backwards. It was that kind of night for Arsenal.

Fourth round results:

Arsenal 3 Wigan 0

Derby 2 Leeds 1

Manchester Utd 1 QPR 0

Stoke 2 Rotherham 0

Swansea 0 Watford 1

– AFP/de

Channel News Asia

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