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FA Cup: Wenger believes Arsenal can go all the way

Aaron Ramsey scored the goal that gave Arsenal the lead against Sunderland their FA Cup thrid round game at the Emirates stadium. Photo: IB Times
Aaron Ramsey scored the goal that gave Arsenal the lead against Sunderland their FA Cup thrid round game at the Emirates stadium. Photo: IB Times
Aaron Ramsey scored the goal that gave Arsenal the lead against Sunderland in their FA Cup third round game at the Emirates stadium. Photo: IB Times

FA Cup holders Arsenal overcame an conceding early goal to record a hassle-free third-round 3-1 win against Premier League relegation contenders Sunderland at Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners keep alive hopes of retaining their title after it was revealed that their fourth round opponents would be Burnley, against whom they have an aggregate score of 16-1 in five meetings in this competition.

At the Emirates over the weekend, Sunderland took an unexpected lead with Jermaine Lens opening the scoring. However, Arsenal quickly equalised through a Joel Campbell half-volley. Aaron Ramsey, on as a substitute, gave Arsenal the lead late on, before Olivier Giroud struck from close range to give the home side their 13th FA Cup win on the trot.

Last season, when Arsenal beat Aston Villa 4-0 in the final, they won their 12th FA Cup title – more than any other club. Arsene Wenger oversaw half of those titles, and should he lead his team to another Cup this season, he will become the competition’s most successful manager.

The 2015-16 season is panning out quite well for the French manager. His team are on top of the Premier League table, playing some great football. However, Wenger, by naming a strong side for the game against Sunderland, showed that English football’s oldest competition is still paramount in his mind. Premier League first-team automatic choices Petr Cech, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud and Theo Walcott all started the match.

It was good team selection as it turned out. It was Walcott who set up Arsenal’s equaliser after the hosts fell behind. Then Hector Bellerin was crucial in the build up to Arsenal’s next two goals, which were converted by the experienced members of the squad.

Meanwhile, Sunderland harbour no FA Cup ambitions; their priority is one and one only: Premier League survival. And that priority was reflected in Sam Allardyce’s first-team, in which he made seven changes to the side that beat Aston Villa 3-1 in the Premier League.

That win against Villa was the first for the Black Cats after five straight defeats. It was a morale-booster if any, helped further by Jermain Defoe’s brace. Sunderland looked to have carried on that momentum when they took the lead against Arsenal, with Lens pouncing on the indecisive Gunners defense.

But their game quickly unravelled.

After the game, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “It was a test for us to come from behind. There was a great mental response and there is a special solidarity in the team.

“You always worry because, no matter how long you are in this job, you never know what is next. The experience we had up front today helped. I am very happy overall.”

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce said: “In the end they had better finishers than we had today. We were fine for 70 minutes and I am just a little sad at the goals we allowed Arsenal to score. We made it easy for them in the end.

“We move on. The squad has shown they can play at this level. Lens is strong on the ball as well as talented. Hopefully we can push on and see a bit more from him.”

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