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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Arsene Wenger stared down his inquisitor and smiled. Just half an hour after his young Arsenal side had demolished Sheffield United by six goals, the old quote, "You can't win anything with kids," had been offered up to him.

"These players," he said levellely, "do not play like kids."

They certainly don't. Up against one of the most expensivley assembled teams that the Football League can offer, the youngest Arsenal team ever ran riot. Packed with grizzled top flight veterans like James Beattie, Gary Speed, Chris Morgan, Gary Naysmith and Paddy Kenny, Sheffield United collapsed like a house of cards under the onslaught.

"I believe that everybody has done well tonight," glowed Wenger afterwards. "From the goalkeeper to the striker, we looked a complete team. This is the best crop of kids in my time at the club. There is not a single one who does not have the quality for the Premier League."

Carlos Vela, partnering Nicklas Bendtner up front, has been learning his trade in sunny La Liga, but on a cold night in North London he showed that he's ripe for the more rough and ready nature of the English game. Despite heavy-handed attention from his markers, he scored a magnificent hat-trick, including a delicate lob that had half the pressbox forgetting their decorum and openly applauding.

For Wenger, this was vindication of his footballing philosophy. Castigated for his reticence in the transfer market, he prefers to recruit his players young, to mould them and then to slowly integrate them into the senior side. Jack Wilshere, one of several exceptional performers, has been at Arsenal since 2001, when he signed as a nine year old. Wenger has created a machine that will go on producing the heirs of Henry and Pires even after he leaves. Every member of this team looked confident and composed on the ball. The individual technique, the skill, the fluency, was something to behold.

Former Leeds United star Speed was half-way through a title-winning season when Wilshere was born and he was made to feel all of his 39 years on a black night for the Blades. Kevin Blackwell's side started the day with the news that West Ham could be made to compensate them to the tune of SG$90m for their relegation from the Premier League, but they ended it with the suspicion that every penny would be needed if they are ever to return. Sheffield United were appalling, devoid of ambition and fight and they got exactly what they deserved. Nothing.

Wenger insisted afterwards that he will keep faith with the kids throughout the competition, no matter who pops out in the draw for the next round.

"We want to win the trophy with this team. When we get to the semi-finals, everyone says that we must change our policy completely, but we will not. We can do better than before. We can go all the way."

On the evidence of this extraordinary display, it would be foolish to argue with him.

HITMAN - Carlos Vela went home with the matchball after a truly wonderful hat-trick. The first was curled effortlessly around the despairing Paddy Kenny, the second lobbed over him as nonchalently as I've ever seen. The third was simply smashed through his arms, but more than the finishing, it was the composure that impressed most of all.

BRAINS OF THE OPERATION - Aaron Ramsey pulled the strings in midfield with some sublime passing, but his finest moment was the cheeky backheel that set up Nicklas Bendtner for his second goal. Eyebrows were raised at the former Cardiff teenager's transfer fee, but he proved here that he is worth every penny.

LIONHEARTS - The Sheffield United supporters deserved much better than this. Several thousand of them made the long journey down, and it must have felt much longer on the way back. Even as the goals flew in, they kept singing their hearts out, earning a warm round of applause from Arsenal supporters.

PUNTERS RANT - Believe it or not, Arsenal looked hesitant on the ball for the first five minutes and anyone who backed the Blades would have felt that they were onto a good thing. Sadly for them, instead of pressing home their physical advantage and bullying the kids into mistakes, they sat back. Big mistake.

MAN OF THE MATCH - You could find a convincing argument to give it to any one of at least six Arsenal players, so instead I'm going to award it to Arsene Wenger. He has created something extraordinary here. A dynasty that will only grow in strength as the years go on. The future is bright for Arsenal fans.

MATCH STATS

ARSENAL

Lukasz Fabianski 7, Gavin Hoyte 7, Alex Song 7 (Francis Coquelin 7), Johan Djourou 8, Kieran Gibbs 8, Fran Merida 8 (Henri Lansbury 8), Aaron Ramsey 9, Mark Randall 7, Jack Wilshere 9, Carlos Vela 9, Nicklas Bendtner 9 (Jay Simpson 7)

SHEFFIELD UNITED

Paddy Kenny 4, Greg Halford 4, Gary Naysmith 4, David Cotterill 4 (Kyle Naughton 4), Chris Morgan 3, Matthew Kilgannon 3, James Beattie 3 (Jordan Robertson 4), Danny Webber 4, Gary Speed 5 (Lee Hendrie 4), Nick Montgomery 3, Stephen Quinn 4

Attendance 56,632

Bookings - Halford (Sheffield United)
 

sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
10,185
Location
Putney
Man-flu again? You need to eat more oranges!

I'm not sure how I feel about the Sun style headlines at the end. Is this the editor's choice?
 

Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
Man-flu again? You need to eat more oranges!

I'm not sure how I feel about the Sun style headlines at the end. Is this the editor's choice?

Yeah, it's a new thing for this season. Not comfy with Punters Rant, but the rest are ok, I think.

Eating raw garlic, that should help.
 

Ricey

Scott Forbes No.1 Fan⭐
Staff member
Joined
Dec 21, 2003
Messages
34,094
Location
Braintree
Excellent review there, I take it that wasn't a full house at the Emirates then? If I had of known that I would of tried to get down there as I haven't done that ground yet and can't see myself doing it with Southend United, well not in my life time.
 

BoyWonder2

Life President⭐
Joined
Oct 25, 2003
Messages
8,229
Location
Cold Norton, Essex
Vela looks to be turning into a fantastic player, I've followed him since buying him on Football Manager. Looks a real talent.

Also, Wilkshire looks like his going to be one hell of a player.
 

steveo

mine to stay the same please
Joined
Aug 30, 2005
Messages
7,545
I take it that wasn't a full house at the Emirates then?

I think they only charged a tenner to get in. Would definitely have been worth a trip.

Hey Slipper, how about a similar review for the game Friday?
 
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