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Young Arsenal swats Wigan out the League Cup
by Ian Plenderleith, November 12th, 2008 7AM



[ENGLAND] This time last week there was supposedly a crisis at Arsenal. Now it's time to once again laud Arsene Wenger for his tactical genius and his commitment to style and youth. After Arsenal beat Manchester United in league play at the weekend, Wenger sent out a team of youngsters in the League Cup round of 16, and they rewarded his faith by dispatching fellow EPL team Wigan Athletic by three goals to zero.

In the last round, a similarly young lineup had walloped Championship team Sheffield United 6-0. This time two goals by Jay Simpson, 19, and one from Mexican striker Carlos Vela, also 19, put Arsenal through to the quarterfinal. "I am very proud of the players and of the quality of the display," said Wenger. He called the team "the most complete side of youngsters" he had seen since taking over at the club, adding that it included "many good young English players."

Manchester United fielded a team that showed eight changes from the group that lost to Arsenal at the weekend, with Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo predictably rested. Their replacements found Championship club Queen's Park Rangers difficult to break down until Carlos Tevez scored a penalty 15 minutes from time after a foul on substitute Danny Welbeck.

"Welbeck changed the game for us, really, and I'm really pleased with him," said United manager Alex Ferguson. "He gave us something different and earned the all important penalty. Other than that, the only area that has been letting us down of late -- and it showed again tonight -- is taking our chances. But they will come, I'm sure."

U.S. defender Jay DeMerit played through for Watford, who parted company with manager Aidy Boothroyd last week, in its 1-0 win at Swansea City. Lee Williamson got the game's sole goal, and interim manager Malky Mackay singled out the defense for praise: "It is a great confidence booster for the lads to be in the quarterfinal. They've worked immensely hard over the last four days. We showed tonight that we don't give away sloppy goals and that's the key to turning the ship around." Swansea had beaten Watford 3-1 in Championship play at the weekend.

In the night's other two games, the Premier League's Stoke City beat fourth-tier Rotherham United on goals from Glenn Whelan and Danny Pugh. Last year's EPL failures Derby County beat 2001 Champions League semifinalist Leeds United, now of third-tier League One, 2-1.

Wednesday's games:
Chelsea vs Burnley
Sunderland vs Blackburn
Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool



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