Arsenal youngsters put Wigan to the sword in life-affirming performance, mannnnnnn

What a blast that was.

In its own way the 3-0 victory over Wigan last night was just as exciting and enthralling as the first-teamers victory over United on Saturday. But while the feeling at the end of the United game was one relief at staying in the title race, the feeling following this one was something approaching a blissful euphoria.

Rob Smyth did the minute-by-minute analysis of the game for The Guardian and his concluding thoughts very much echoed my own. He wrote:

“At the risk of sounding like a hippy tool (I’m a tool but I’m no hippy) that really was some life-affirming stuff, mannnnnnn. This is one of those nights that this group of players, even when they’re collecting their nth league title, will never forget – a moment in time that can never be taken away from them. Thousands and thousands of hardened, talented footballers never got to play with the freedom and the fun that Arsenal did tonight. It’s been soul-warming in the way that only youthful success can be, and Carlos Vela’s goal will live in our memory for a long time, never mind his.”

It may be a little over-the-top but the bit about very few footballers getting to play with the freedom and fun that Wenger’s side did tonight is absolutely spot on. The manager has stuck with his policy of playing his young players in the Carling Cup season after season and once again he was rewarded for it tonight. This was a complete team performance against a full-strength Wigan side who harboured dreams of winning the tournament as a cheap ticket into Europe. There was no free pass last night.

The starting team was virtually identical to the one who smashed Sheffield 6-0 in the previous round. The only change by the manager was to bring in Jay Simpson for Nicklas Bendtner. And while the change was a necessity given the first team’s reliance on Bendtner as their current spearhead in attack, Simpson took his chance with both hands to net the opening two goals of the match and the first two of his top flight career.

The first was put on a plate to him by an immaculate pass by Jack Wilshere. While I’m fairly certain the young Englishman was looking for the feet of Carlos Vela there was no denying the quality of the pass and it was rightfully stroked home under the body of the previously inspired Chris Kirkland by Simpson. Indeed, before he was finally beaten Kirkland made no less than four excellent saves, the best coming from a brilliant long-range free-kick from Aaron Ramsey.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the young Arsenal team’s performance was the tenacity and aggression they showed in the tackle. Well-lead by Alex Song and Johan Djourou at the back they may have been but everyone from Wilshere to Mark Randall were playing their part with some crunching tackles on their physically stronger opponents. It may have had something to do with the British contingent on the pitch but the team certainly taught the older members of the squad a thing or two about how to deal with the physical side of the game.

The boys did survive a penalty scare early in the second half when ‘old head’ Djourou handballed in the area. But that was the only really hairy moment in an otherwise excellent performance.

Simpson doubled his and his team’s tally after firing in after a sensational breakaway by strike-partner Vela before the Mexican got himself on the scoresheet after the classiest of chips. He was a livewire right up until the point he was substituted off, Vela, and looks like a player who is going to score a bucketload of goals for the first team in the years to come.

Just to add the icing to the cake captain Lukasz Fabianski, who spilt the ball a few times and was the only player to perform below-par over the 90 minutes, redeemed himself with a quite brilliant double save to deny Daniel de Ridder and Amir Zaki. It was Arsenal’s night and they had won the match in true style.

You can check out all the highlights of the match here.

Althought the whole team performed well for me the real standouts in the match were Wilshere, Vela, Simpson and Djourou. Wilshere continues to show an awareness of great players ten years his senior, Simpson showed a directness and willingness to want to put the ball in the net that few Arsenal strikers have, Vela I’ve already spoken about while Djourou was the standout defender and kept yet another clean sheet. By my recollection Arsenal are yet to concede a goal when he’s been on the pitch and I think that record speaks for itself.

Anyone who watched this game will know exactly how I am feeling right now: proud of the youngsters for continuing to put in 100% whenever they are given their chance, proud of the manager for continuing to promote the youth in the squad and proud of the club for continuing to put faith in a manager who has the most wonderful of intentions for the game at heart.

As Mr Smyth said, “That really was some life-affirming stuff, mannnnnnn.”

Have your say on the Arsenal youngsters thrilling win over Wigan by leaving a comment.



  1. Great post, from what I saw from the game it really seemed like the lads were enjoying themselves, and kudos to the managers of the Emirates, that whole decreasing prices for Carling Cup games is really providing an atmosphere for these kids. Vela’s goal was quite incredible. I just hope that the first team plays with the same happiness and enjoyment of these guys.

  2. great game by da teenagers,but credit to wenger,it was a concern that just few regular players didn’t play against a strong wigan, esp with this so called zaki on form.Just hope wenger will give movitated liftment by presenting them with at least an glimpse of play against the next 3 games before the regulars return.

  3. It was amazing to watch. Even Fabianski had a great game, and would soon be pushing Almunia.

    Also, it looks like the manager is grooming Ramsey to be a back-up for Cesc, in case he does leave anytime soon

  4. I only saw about 20 mins of the game, but caught Simpson’s first goal. Spanish- Your point about getting stuck in to the tackles is very valid. Hopefully this is an ethos that AW is finally beginning to instill. Let’s hpe the firast eam take a leaf out of these lad’s book. It proves you can play an opponent off the park football-wise and still impose yourself physically.

  5. CARLOS VELA IS IMMENSE… I honestly think if he had a starting spot he would be near the top of the scorers table… Amazing sequence by Fabianski on the Zaki rebound… Lots of great players out there but Vela is in a class of his own… The kid needs to play with the first teamers- especially instead of Bendtner (who i like btw)

  6. Hope to see them start assimilating into the first team for premiership matches this season. That and champions league matches. I don’t think most teams in the world will be able to handle the way they play as a team. They might be young but what they are showing is that their age means nothing. If they still together its going to be a brighter future then any of us can imagine.
    Carlos Vela is just… wow… breathtaking.

  7. There arent many words that would describe last nights performance. They were absolutely brilliant, a 17 year old kid hitting a world class free kick, a 16 year old kid tackling a man whose almost twice his age, a 16 year old kid splitting an experienced defense with a single pass! Two 19 year old kids scoring 3 goals against a team that almost beat the mighty Liverpool! Its really remarkable, the future for Arsenal is looking good. If this crop stays together for the next 3-4 years, teams like Chelsea, ManU, Liverpool are going to have a hard time keeping up with us!

  8. what a game, last night was superb, that Vela looks tops & some days i really wish wenger would field the whole reserve team in a premier league match.

    on the way to work this morning was listening to (TalkSport unfortunately) and I was amazed by the barrage of texts and emails from fans of other clubs having a dig following last night’s game. It was the usual “They still won’t win anything” and “Half those players won’t be there in two years time” nonsense. What these idiots fail to realise is that proper, long term Arsenal fans aren’t suggesting that this bunch of youngsters will go on to rule the world, but that we’re all just enjoying it for what it is, a bunch of young lads playing with freedom and spirit and no shaortage of quality and beating a very decent Wigan team comfortably. Let’s not forget that it could easily have been 4-0 at half time but for Kirkland. Having said that, i do think this lot are better than any before and Djourou and Song are already involved with the first team on a regular basis and I fully expect Vela, Ramsey, Wilkshire, Merida and Randall to make an impression sooner rather than later.

    If we can can at least four of the current crop involved in the near future then it is all worthwhile and does count for something. On another note, what about Fabianski’s save. I didn’t really appreciate it at the ground last night but having seen it this morning, it really was very special.

  9. Brilliant performance from our young(er) guns. Loved the game. Its how football should be played. Even nicer to see Utd scrape through with a “full strength” side out. Wigan a decent team, lets not forget.

    Wilshire, Ramsey, Vela, Djourou deserve more first team action as last night proved.

    I think i actually love Jack Wilshire. His left foot is brilliant, have been watching him on ATVO for ages in reserves action and he is truelly brilliant.

    Ramsey – So glad we got him and Utd didnt, he will surely be playing along side my man Cesc next year alot more in the premiership.

    As for Vela, who sadly limped off an injury last night – the bloke has a stunning left foot, eye for goal and his first touch is simply sublime.

    Up the young(er) gunners! Bring on whoever in the next round.

  10. Great post. What a promising game for the young gun(ner)s – Incredible. Looking forward to the boys smashing Villa this weekend!

  11. What a game!!! I FINALLY UNDERSTAND WHY WENGER IS RELUCTANT TO BUY NEW PLAYERS…if you see that wealth of talent and promise day in, day out, why would you go and buy someone else…the experience will come…PATIENCE PEOPLE, the time is near….

  12. @Jay; Ramsay alongside Cesc. Now that will be different to what we have now!, 2 AM and no true DM. I like having 2 AMs in all the time.

    @ everyone who wants the kids given a run with the “other kids”. I hope I wont read from you about “we need to buy an experienced so and so”

    As I have been asserting on this blog all the time. I don’t see the need for us to buy. We are likely to lose 2 or 3 of the midfielders we had on the pitch tonight because their “seniors” are just 1 or 2 years older and seem to be going nowhere at the moment.

    One point about Vela: He is top notch. his only problem is that he is the easiest of any of our players to get the ball from when dribbling. That is why he may not be preferred to Bendtner when we need to retain the ball up top. Once he works on his ball protection he can terrorize defenses even more than Eduardo because of his pace. That is the main reason he kept the ball too close to Kirkland when trying to go around him.

  13. Yet another Prem teams falls at our youngsters, but thats because they young guns are pure quality. The Wigan side just lost to Liverpool 1st team 3-2 and our young guns beat them 3-0, with a world class save from Fabianski to deny Zaki a certain goal. Djourou and Song looked much better than I have ever seen Toure and Gallas. Wilshere continues to impress and Im very glad Simpson played because he looked good in pre season, and Vela got the goal of the game again. He needs more playing time. Arsenal fans just love the CC.

  14. For those that “dont see the need for us to buy”, i dont think you should complain when we dont win any trophies for another few years then. Talent can NEVER replace experience and you cannot win a title without good experienced players. Our lads showed you that last season when they fell apart after things started going wrong. You ALWAYS need experienced talent like Alonso for example, that could look after the youth in times of trouble and pull the team back together. Its nice to see we have such a talented youth team, but that still does not mean Wenger should not buy at least two experienced players in January, because that youth will not help us this season, or probably even the next.

  15. @ Demetrio – we defo need to buy in January but our CC sqaud was awesome last night against a full prem squad, and that is the topic today. The talent we have in our youth squad atm!

  16. Yes we have talent, we don’t need to CC to tell us that. We have some of the best youth in the world. But for people to use the CC to justify Wenger not buying is absolute nonsense.

  17. Only Barca Youth Academy can challenge our youth academy. In my view, Barca are even better than us. Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi all world-class players from their youth academy and Bojan can be added in that list. Cesc also played for them when he was child but Wenger was the one to know his credentials. Wihout any doubt, Wenger is the best manager ever to discover young talents.

    Overall, our youth team is better than even Barca’s. It’s sad though must of these kids may not make at Arsenal but all of them have a good future.

  18. @Demetrio; jay-jay; & MoMONEY;

    There is more to buying players and the impact that new player is going to have on the current squad that just shelling some cash and bingo, Kaka is here. There is no single player in the world that can play by themselves. We get a lot of good talents because we give them hope that they will play. Experience is not quality, and when you punish young players for their youths and getting and playing an older, lesser skilled players you have to be prepared to shed 20 – 30 millions for players from that point on since the young kids won’t trust you any more. If we have to go that route, there have to be wholesale buying and selling at the club and we will lose our stability, and grow our debt.

    Quality wise, the current crop of players can beat anybody. Why in the world would we want to buy is beyond my comprehension at the moment. The team did not fall appart last season because of experience although everyone wants to believe it was. We are capable of wining the title this season and as I have said before, it will be down to us and Chelsea, Liverpool have the experience but short of quality and Man U are just going to get dissappointed.

    I hope we will get back here in February to pick this discussion up.

  19. TayGoon; I completely agree with your comments about giving chance to young players. I was with you and with Mr. Wenger untill last transfer season. Now I must change myself and confess that this team is not capable of winning league. Of course we have some worldclass talents in our squad but experience is always vital when the team is under pressure. We could/should have won the league last year but bad luck and lack of experience ruined a promising season. We all thought this Arsenal team will get better and challenge for top titles this year but we have been disappointing for most part of the season.

    None of the Arsenal fans can deny that we have already lost 3 times, yes 3 times already this season aganist championship sides with pathetic performances. I repeat this again; league is not won by producing some marvellous performance like last Saturday but it will be won by being consistent and destroying small teams like hull, stoke and fulham. Remember two season earlier we won twice against Manutd but ended up scrapping the fourth place.

    There are three problems with the current Arsenal team; Almunia, Aerial in-effieciency and a reliable partner for Cesc. None of the team have ever won a premier league title with an international keeper, ever. Almunia had a decent season last year and has been okay this season but with him between the post we will not win anything ever. He cannot even command his 6 yard box far from making important saves. I said that before the start of the season and I still repeat that Arsenal will not win anything ever with Faulty in goal. Our second problem is lack of aerial power in our defense. Toure/Gallas combination never worked for Arsenal except for begining three months of last season. Silvestre or Djourou combining with Gallas might work but I am still convinced that we need a 6+ CB strong in the air. Lastly, the real difference this season has been Flamini. None of the players at Arsenal can do what Flamini did last season to support the defense and esp Cesc. Song and Denilson are good players but are not ready to control midfield of a league winning side. A player like Veloso or De Rossi will make a huge difference but any player who can tackle and play dirty in the middle with a good passing skill will work. Matuidi of Saint-Ettiene is good in playing dirty who can be signed for reasonable price.
    Wenger has to open his cheque book to improve those three positions over next summer to make us more competitive next season. This season, I will be happy with a cup title(even Beer cup) and a 4th place.
    I have a lot of respect for Wenger and I love this man more than any Arsenal fans but situation is changing. Team like Arsenal not winning anything for five years except an undeserved FA cup win is not good enough. Wenger criticized Realmadrid when they went 3 trophy-less season and now is the time for Wenger prove how great manager he is. It has been four years and counting Wenger!!!!!!!!

    Come on Arsenal!

  20. Wenger has stated that he wants to keep these kids together and bring them into the squad and I’m all for it as they can beat wigan 3-0 but our 1st team with international players can’t beat the likes of fulham, stoke and hull and don’t finish teams like the spuds off in 90 mins what can be so bad about that? Expensive players don’t really mean bugger all as robinio is he really helping man city fight for the prem? Has deco improved chelscum or is it the likes of lampard and terry who have played together for years keeping them top? Who would prefer arsharvin to dudu or vela? Would of keeping flamini been better than signing big name player?
    I haven’t enjoyed watching an arsenal game this season as much as last nights game because I didn’t get frustrated or screaming at the telly pissed off because 30 mill ade can’t stay onside or he missed his 10th chance of the game. So the sooner these kids get drafted into the 1st team the better as djorou looked better than world cup winning gallas, vela looked better than rvp as his ball went under not over the crossbar, ramseys free kick was better than most free kicks I’ve seen and wilshere passed the ball around better than diaby and simpson took his chances well and didn’t stray offside as big ade does and most of all they ALL ran their arses off, gave 100%, tackled like they wanted the ball back and most of all they won.

  21. I dont want Wenger to spend for no reason… I want him to add a tough DMF in January so we can aompete in the league this year… Not in the future- this year… We do not have that tough mentality that is needed to sustain an entire league season and I do think we need to add… I love the youth we have but they cannot give us what is needed to win it this season…

  22. According to the Sun (that great vanguard of truth and taste) Ray Wilkins of CSKA said exciting things about Arsenal’s cup win against Wigan.

    Things like “You enter a competition to win the competition. Why go into it if you’re not concerned whether you win it? Playing a young or weakened team undermines the value of the competition. And we have not and will not do that. We want to win it, big time.”

    Which means he’s going to be a bit upset at losing to Burnley, who we also beat with a young side a year or two back in the FA Cup, I think.

    On the other hand Chelsea won’t mind the fact that a coin was lobbed into the crowd by one of their players. In 2002 a Liverpool player called “Carragher” did the same sort of thing when the Insolvents were playing at Highbury. There was quite a demand that, since a fan who did this would be banned for life from the ground, so should the player.

    But no, the “Carragher” was sent off, got a police warning, was fined £40k and told not to do it again.

    Seems like it is all getting a bit softer these days – after all the EPL doesn’t fancy being sued by the might of Russia. No sending off, and no sign of a fine or anything else.

    What we do see is that after 10 years of careful nurturing of talent, combined with world-wide scouting, Arsenal have produced a youth team that can defeat an EPL team, with Liverpool Insolvency and CSKA Fulham have used the time to buy anything that moves.

    Their buy-buy-buy policy has resulted in a second team (not a youth team) that in each case doesn’t really look as if it wants to play much.

    If ever there was a week that shows the worth of the approach of the Lord Wenger, it is this. I know we are behind in the league – obviously I look at the league table – but knowing what the youth team is up to gives me a really warm feeling.

  23. @ray
    Wilkins is and idiot. He was way out of line, it would be understandable if the Young Guns lost, but they thumped Sheffield and Wigan, i think he is jealous of Wenger’s kids! Chelski lost to Burnley, now he just looks stupid. I hope he feels stupid.

  24. The issue with chelscum also is playboy has lost billions in the russian stock collapse and has sacked 15 scouts to limit their spending and there is no money for transfers unless they sell but they are never going to get back what they splashed out on these players and did we see any future stars last night so wtf were the scouts looking at? No other club in the prem has the this youngster is the next so and so but us and thats why teams like wigan are shit scared when they see the line up and thats why we are so excited to see the likes of vela, merida wilshere and gibbs. So little clubs see the like of manure, liverpool and chelscums line up and know they are beatable and how they play and change their tactics to suit the game but when our kids go out they don’t know what they are capable of and don’t know their weakness and thats half the point of having a good manager and we are lucky to have 1 of the best managers in the world so all you arsne haters who were calling for his head should go and support the spuds as at least they had the cc and when we play them again even harry houdini won’t stop us going all the way this year and who knows vela and dudu could be up front together by the next round and that would scare the shit out of me if i was a defender.

  25. @ butterfingers – Vela would scare the shit outta me, if Dudu partners him, I can see us winning it

    He was our top cc scorer last season and Vela is ours this year, them together would be amazing, however Carlos and Niklas play amazingly well together so its debatable. Wilshere looked great, Gibbs wasnt to great but he did his job in the end. Fabianski did that world class double save!! Djourou looked best CB in our squad! Merida and Randall looked comfortable. I would like to see Coquellin and Bischoff more. Simpson did really well on his debut, we have great youth and a lot are english to shut up any people who like to say we have little english players : Walcott, G.Hoyte, Wilshere, Randall, Gibbs, Lansbury, Simpson. Not to mention other players who havent broken through yet : Gilbert, Rodgers, Bartley, Blackwood, Eastmond, Ogogo, Steer, Cruise, Ayling, Emmanuel-Thomas, Dunne, Watt, Murphy and Freeman. Sorry to go over the top but thats a lot of english players to have.

  26. look Vela is good, but i am going to contradict what i said last week, maybe Wenger is right not throwing him into the premier league fray as we already have 3 strikers (and eduardo) and he needs time to develop, games in the carling cup count for nothing, its almost like practice compared to a top flight game.

  27. @ RBP-The Next RVP – We played Wigan, a strong top flight team, they were full squad and Velas goal was great. I think he is ready!

  28. I think part of the reason is to keep other clubs from trying to grab him… If he was tearing it up in the EPL and had to sit out lots of games because of other strikers- other teams could sound tempting… As of now there is still that little unknown as to how he can perform consistently… Idn just a thought… Cannot wait to see that kid in action every game…

  29. @ jay jay I’m sure a lot of the english kids will not cut it and end up at crap teams like tottenham but we have a lot and a lot of them will make it.I hope we get the world cup in oz in 2014 as the England team will consist of a lot of arsenal players by then and England games will be worth watching again at the moment they are good players but can’t play together unlike spain, france and even croatia have a good flowing team.

  30. @ butterfingers – agreed but England have won 4 out of 4 WC qualifiers atm but still wouldnt fancy them v Spain or France. We face Germany in a friendly so we will see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.