Arsenal entered the competition at a later stage due to European involvement, and to help cut out the matches played by the first teamers. Arsene Wenger looks at the competition as spawning ground for the younger players. In theory, facing a full strength team from Sheffield could prove quite tricky. Playing a team with an average age of just 19 years should prove quite a stern test. In reality The Young Gunners cruised through and in some style!
Occasionally, scorelines of this nature are flattering. On Tuesday evening, I would suggest that the scoreline was perhaps more flattering to The Blades. Although they didn’t have it all their own way, the youngsters were in full control from start to finish, producing a display worthy enough to make their more senior team mates to have a look over their shoulders!
It took 31 minutes to finally break down the Sheffield defence, but the goal arrived in style from an almost pension aged 20 year old Niklas Bendtner whose sweetly struck shot had United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny picking the ball out of the net for the first time on the evening.
Arsenal were clearly in full control by now, and although The Blades offered some resilience, goal number two was almost a question of time in coming. Young Aaron Ramsey with a clever backheel allowing Bendtner to stroke in his and The Gunners second.
Two minutes later, and Carlos Vela proved his worth with a curling strike past Kenny, and Arsenal were 3-0 up heading toward the break.
So, into the second half, and once again, Vela pounced. Only four minutes after the restart, and after some good work from Gibbs, The Mexican took the ball on his chest, and cleverly lobbed the keeper for his second and goal number four for Arsenal.
Arsenal were to continue to press forward, and were rewarded by another classic strike, this time from Jack Wilshere with a 20 yard effort. Looking again at the goal, it is quite difficult to realise that Wilshere is still only 16 years old, but does prove the emerging talent breaking through the ranks.
So, 5-0, and it wasn’t to finish there. Vela was to round off a memorable night for these young starlets with his hattrick goal and a chance to take the first of what could be many match balls home with him.
Although we all knew that these youngsters had potential, the proof is always in the tasting, and the sample offered was simply delicious!
Fabianski, Hoyte, Song (Coquelin 69), Djourou, Gibbs, Merida (Simpson 69), Ramsey, Wilshere, Randall, Vela, Bendtner (Lansbury 69)