By Randy Osae
Another cruising display by Arsenal’s youngsters saw them flawlessly outclass Wigan and book a quarter-final berth in the Carling Cup, yet again.
Jay Simpson and Carlos Vela were the catalysts of another marvelous performance by the kids. The latter of that pair did not repeat his hat-trick heroics, but even magnificence was the least compliment Carlos Vela deserved.
The Mexican teenager was one of Arsenal’s veteran representatives tonight. Him, Song, Fabianski, Djourou, Ramsey and perhaps Wilshere were the only familiar first-team pretenders Wenger chalked-up to start. The rest were Randall, Merida, Hoyte, Gibbs and Simpson who was benefiting off Bendtner’s rest.
Arsenal’s boys did show rare naivety during the early stages – especially when Fabianski misjudged a long throw-in and was almost beaten. But his opposite number, Chris Kirklnad was always the victim of better fireworks. And only a streak of great saves by the English stopper denied Arsenal a flying start.
Vela looked poised to score when he brushed off Boyce to meet Wigan’s goalkeeper close-up, but was quickly thwarted once he tried to dribble past his opponent.
Simpson then saw his shot hit the top of the bar after good control and soon after, even Kieran Gibbs made a close effort which was barely saved by Kirkland.
Wigan looked calmed by Arsenal’s hot-headed youngsters, and taming efforts by Ridder and Koumas were as close as they came.
Then came Arsenal’s first of many. Minutes before halftime, Wilshere slipped in a brilliant through-pass to penetrate Wigan’s defence and Jay Simpson pounced on it with ease to beat Kirkland. It was a fantastic goal and as usual, well carved.
Wigan could have equalized from the spot when Johan Djourou seemed to have handled the ball in the penalty area, but the visitors’ faint claims were ignored by the referee. And they would also admit been second best to a youthful Arsenal set-up and more dominance was on the way.
First, Simpson just headed Fran Merida’s cross over the bar and Gibbs failed to convert an intelligent assist by Ramsey.
But the outstanding second goal finally came on sixty-six minutes. After Wigan had failed to launch a successful surge for an equalizer in Arsenal’s territory, the home side counter-attacked in mercurial fashion courtesy of Vela’s incredible pace and the Mexican unselfishly chose to set-up a free Simpson who coolly finished. It was an absolute beauty.
Then Carlos Vela unleashed another breath-taking brilliance.The 19-year-old raced onto Djourou’s long pass, out-ran Titus Bramble and shirked his challenge, and somehow managed to chip the ball over Chris Kirkland from a very acute angle. Another dazzling trick it was.
Fabianski made a string of astonishing saves to deny Wigan and Amr Zaki a blatant consolation goal from close-range late on. Amaury Bischoff, Rui Fonte and Henri Lansbury had made cameo tastes of another scintillating Carling Cup night.
And there is no doubt what’s left in that youthful armory is even more than the witnessed.