Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wenger's Young Guns at It Again; Arsenal Are in the Last Eight

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wenger's Young Guns at It Again; Arsenal Are in the Last Eight

Article excerpt

Arsenal 2 Liverpool 1 TEENAGER Fran Merida netted his first Arsenal goal as Arsene Wenger's young Gunners beat Liverpool 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.

Just back from the Under-20 World Cup with Spain, the 19-year-old former Barcelona trainee drilled in a fine first-half strike as Wenger's faith in youth was once again justified.

Nicklas Bendtner, himself only 21 but now a regular in the first team, produced a powerful finish after 50 minutes to put Arsenal into the last eight after Emiliano Insua had equalised.

As expected, Wenger had shaken things up in the team selection for his 750th game at the helm, naming an entirely different starting XI from the one which let a 2-0 lead slip during the closing stages at West Ham in the league on Sunday.

There was, though, a more experienced look to this Gunners team, with veteran Mickael Silvestre captaining the side at the ripe old age of 32, while French midfielder Samir Nasri made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a fractured leg.

Only Dirk Kuyt, the Reds captain for the night, remained from the Liverpool side which had defeated Manchester United - although there was a welcome place on the bench for Alberto Aquilani, who had yet to play following his big-money summer move from Roma. The hosts started well, and Merida fired a low effort just off target.

Liverpool created a decent opening when a clever backheel from David Ngog released Philipp Degen on the edge of the penalty area, but the Swiss defender dragged his shot across the face of goal.

On 10 minutes, Nasri was upended by Martin Skrtel just outside the Liverpool box, but chipped his free-kick over the wall and wide.

Bendtner then overcomplicated a one-two with Nasri, trying to stab the ball square to Aaron Ramsey, rather than just shoot when clear through.

But Merida showed him just how it should be done with a fine strike on 19 minutes.

Craig Eastmond stole possession on the right, and the ball broke for Merida, who promptly smashed a first-time, left-foot shot in off the post past Diego Cavalieri. Arsenal, though, had their lead only until the 26th minute when Insua netted a fine equaliser. …

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