Sheffield Wednesday stunned Premier League opponents Arsenal with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Hillsborough on Tuesday night.
Goals from Ross Wallace, Lucas Joao and Sam Hutchinson booked the Owls’ place in the League Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2002 as they outclassed the 13-time league title winners on a memorable evening in the steel city.
Despite making nine changes, Arsene Wenger’s side still included the likes of Champions League winning goalkeeper Petr Cech and World Cup winner Per Mertesacker, as well as a host of other recognisable names. But the Gunners proved no match for their Championship opposition, creating only one chance of note all evening, and Wednesday ran out winners in a contest that will live long in their memory.
The anticipation ahead of Arsenal’s visit to Hillsborough had been considerable ever since Sheffield Wednesday defeated Newcastle United 1-0 at St James’ Park to set up the tie back in September. It was the first meeting between the Owls and the Gunners since 2000, Wednesday’s last year in the top flight, and the ground was a near-sellout with almost double their regular league attendance.
The 35,000+ crowd created an incredible atmosphere inside one of the country’s most famous old stadiums and as the ‘Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday…’ song bellowed around the venue, you could feel the excitement and optimism from ever home supporter in the crowd. But even the most optimistic Wednesday supporter would have struggled to predict what followed, as their side outplayed a Premier League outfit who had defeated Bayern Munich only weeks earlier!
Wallace opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a goal that the Gunners themselves would have been proud of. Daniel Pudil received the ball on the left wing and perfectly picked out Wallace, who rifled a pinpoint first-time strike past the helpless Cech into the bottom corner.
It had been an even and fairly uneventful contest up until this stage, although Arsene Wenger will have concerned to see both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and his replacement Theo Walcott limp off with injury inside the opening 20 minutes.
But there could be no excuses from Arsenal and the lower-league side doubled their lead five minutes before the interval after a spell of dominance. Wallace was this time the creator and his cross found Joao, who rose highest to direct the ball in to the net and send the home fans into dreamland.
The visitors had a spell of possession in the final moments of the half as they looked for a way back, debutant Alex Iwobi finding the side netting with a strike. But a breakthrough rarely looked likely for the Gunners and with few options left on the bench for Wenger to change the pace of the contest, it was Wednesday who pushed on and moved further ahead after the break.
A cleverly worked set piece six minutes after the restart saw Tom Lees knock the ball back across the face of goal to Hutchinson, who bundled the ball over the line to send the home fans ecstatic yet again – many surely unable to quite believe what they were witnessing!
It looked, for a moment, to be 4-0 when Joao met Bannan’s cross but on this occasion the Portugese forward couldn’t direct his effort on target.
Arsenal rallied somewhat with around 20 minutes left and finally started to look like the side most had expected to be watching all evening. It was during this spell that the Gunners best chance of the game arrived as Mathieu Flamini picked out Mertesacker at far post. The 6ft6 German was always going to win the header but 19-year-old Joe Wildsmith pulled out a tremendous save to keep hold of his clean sheet.
It was too little too late from the visitors though and a comeback never looked like coming on a famous night for Sheffield Wednesday. The unexpected victory moves the Owls nine games unbeaten and they can now look forward to a first League Cup quarter final tie in over a decade, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool among the possible ties for the Sheffield club in the next round.
Sheffield Wednesday (3)
Line-up: Wildsmith, Hunt, Lees, Loovens, Pudil, Hutchinson (McGugan ’80), Wallace, Lee, Bannan (Semedo ’75), Helan, Joao (Nuhiu ’85)
Unused subs: Palmer, Bus, Sasso, Price
Scorers: Wallace ’27, Joao ’40, Hutchinson ’51
Line-up: Cech, Debuchy, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Flamini, Kamara (Bielik ’60), Campbell, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott ‘5 (Bennacer ’19)) Iwobi, Giroud
Unused subs: Gabriel, Monreal, Macey, Sheaf
Referee: Graham Scott
Date: Tuesday 27th November 2015
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