By Declan Taylor
In his last game before his one-month loan move to Scunthorpe, Henri Lansbury twice converted from the spot to help Arsenal Under-18s coast into the Quarter Finals of the FA Youth Cup against 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Friday night.
The England Under-19 captain notched both penalties in the first half before the hosts were reduced to 10 men three minutes after the break when Andrew Galer was dismissed for a cynical lunge.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and substitute Benik Afobe, making his debut in the competition, added to Arsenal’s tally to ensure a happy return to Wearside for Steve Bould.
After this 550-mile trip, the manager and his troops will have another long trek to Plymouth - or perhaps a hop across London to Tottenham - in the last eight.
Bould made one outfield change to the side that eased past Wolves in Round Four. Striker Rhys Murphy, who was stretchered off after 34 minutes of that game, was replaced in the starting XI by Gilles Sunu – scorer of that match-winning hat-trick.
The Frenchman was supported once again by Jack Wilshere, deployed in the ‘Bergkamp’ role.
Like in previous rounds Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin provided a rock-solid central midfield with Lansbury and captain Emmanuel-Thomas occupying the flanks. Between the sticks, usual Under-18 keeper James Shea dropped to the bench with debutant Harry Lee getting the nod.
However, it was the new goalkeeper’s opposite number that would provide the game’s first talking point after four minutes. Canadian Michal Misiewicz clattered Sunu, who had headed a high Lansbury pass goalwards, and referee Madley pointed to the spot.
Lansbury made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Misiewicz the wrong way.
Sunderland looked startled and could only threaten in bursts, mainly down the right-hand side. The inventive Liam O’Mahoney and right back Liam Bagnall twice combined well but the final ball was always lacking.
A couple of long shots from Frimpong and Lansbury aside, Arsenal themselves had not been at their creative best but it did not stop them doubling their lead six minutes before the break.
This time Misiewicz brought down Lansbury, who had surged past him. The keeper was booked before the midfielder dusted himself to down to slot home. Opposite corner this time, but same result.
Sunderland coach Kevin Ball made two changes at the interval in an attempt to reinvigorate his slightly lacklustre side. Andrew Galer was one of those introduced at the break but within three minutes he was back in the dressing room.
After a mis-control in the Arsenal half, the Sunderland youngster lunged in on Craig Eastmond who had gathered the ball. A red card was Mr Hadley’s only option.
Sometimes a sending off serves to galvanise the 10 men, but it was not the case here.
After 57 minutes Lansbury turned provider but Sunu could only thunder his effort against the keeper’s front post. It was a sign of things to come.
The Gunners opened their full compendium of tricks and Lansbury, Emmanuel-Thomas and Eastmond all went close as a result of some superb midfield combinations.
Bould’s boys would extend their lead but, when the goal came, it wasn’t exactly pretty. Emmanuel-Thomas, who had threatened all night, bustled to the byline before drilling a fierce cross-shot into the danger area. It had the desired effect and the ball ricocheted past Misiewicz and into the back of the net.
On 73 minutes, Wilshere and Sunu were replaced by Afobe and Sanchez Watt. And, for the second time on the evening, a substitute would make an almost immediate impact.
Emmanuel-Thomas’ trickery was once again to thank for the chance and Afobe, six minutes into his Youth Cup debut, stooped to head past Misiewicz from six yards.
Sunderland, who were Semi Finalists last season, looked completely devoid of ideas. Their evening was summed up during stoppage time when Matthew Fletcher fashioned himself an opportunity on the edge of the area before completely missing the ball with his shooting foot.
The night belonged to Arsenal.
- Cruise 82
- Sunu 73
- Lansbury Goal! Goal!
- Wilshere 73
- Emmanuel-Thomas Goal!
- Afobe 73
- Evina 82
- Watt 73
- Noble 73
- Wilson 46
- Hubbuck 46
- Fletcher 46
- Galer 46 Red Card
- Lang 73