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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger full of praise for Sutton

Jamie Collins heads a shot towards goal as David Ospina fails to claim during the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round
Image: Jamie Collins heads a shot towards goal during the FA Cup Fifth Round match

Arsene Wenger says he was astonished by the quality of Sutton's performance after watching the non-league side provide Arsenal with a stern FA Cup test on Monday night.

The Gunners are safely through to face Lincoln, another Vanarama National League outfit, in the quarter-finals after Lucas Perez and Theo Walcott goals secured a 2-0 win.

But a strong Arsenal line-up were made to work hard for their victory at Gander Green Lane and the manager was very complimentary about Sutton after the match.

Asked if it was a case of 'job done' for his side, Wenger said: "Yes, against a side that was astonishing.

"They are basically in division five and they are 17th out of 24.

"[I was surprised] by the speed of their game.

"The fact they never stopped going until the end and, compared to 20 years ago, these teams are fit now and can play at the pace of the Premier League.

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"Maybe before they collapsed in the last 20 minutes, [but] that is finished.

Arsene Wenger enjoyed his night at Gander Green Lane
Image: Arsene Wenger enjoyed a successful night at Gander Green Lane

"We had to keep our focus. I must give credit to the players who were professional and kept their focus, if we had come here in a relaxed mood we would have gone out tonight, because they produced quality.

"We could not afford a light team selection tonight and that is why I came with basically all the players who were available, because we couldn't afford to go out tonight, we can never afford it."

The result was some relief for Wenger, last week's 5-1 Champions League hammering at Bayern Munich having led to increased speculation that he may leave Arsenal when his contract expires in the summer.

SUTTON, GREATER LONDON - FEBRUARY 20:  Arsene Wenger, manager of Arsenal arrives at the stadium for the Emirates FA Cup fifth round match between Sutton Un
Image: Wenger said he enjoyed being in the Sutton changing rooms

The Frenchman has said that he will definitely be managing somewhere next season, but joked after Monday's match that the Vanarama National League would not be on his agenda.

"I will never go down there because it is too difficult," he said.

"I come from a club that is smaller than that, so it reminds me of my childhood.

"The changing rooms for me were fantastic - the closer you are, the more united you are when you go out there."

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