x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Child's play for Wenger boys

Arsene Wenger confounded his critics once more when his young charges produced a commanding performance in the Carling Cup.

Carlos Vela is mobbed after hitting Arsenal's third.
Carlos Vela is mobbed after hitting Arsenal's third.

Arsene Wenger confounded his critics once more when his young charges produced a commanding performance to knock Wigan out of the Carling Cup. The fledgling Arsenal side belied their inexperience in a controlled 3-0 victory to vindicate Wenger's policy of blooding his apprentices in the league cup. However, while his grooming of young stars is widely acclaimed, he has in the past faced criticism for an absence of home grown players. The Frenchman will therefore be particularly happy that the two goal hero was British-born Jay Simpson. So in due course may the watching Fabio Cappello. Carlos Vela added a third with a sublime chip.

"These boys, they surprise every-body because there is a mixture of character, commitment and calm as well", Wenger enthused. "Under pressure they remain extremely calm and play very good football. What they do on the pitch is not a coincidence, it is quality." Like Arsenal, Manchester United also took the opportunity of giving youth a chance but lacked a cutting edge in an attritional 1-0 win over QPR. Despite constant pressure the Reds left it late to settle the match when Carlos Tevez converted a penalty after Danny Wellbeck was brought down. The manager Sir Alex Ferguson was impressed by Wellbeck, saying: "I'm really pleased for the lad. He has placed himself in the first-team picture."

Ferguson's relief at scraping though was tempered with news that Owen Hargreaves will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. The news is a blow for the midfielder whohas only made 37 appearances for the club since his £18 million (Dh101m) move from Bayern Munich in July 2007. tbrooks@thenational.ae