x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Eduardo slices Burnley apart

The Croatian's wonder goal caps a ruthless yet breathtaking display from the Gunners.

Eduardo volleys home Arsenal's second goal as the Gunners produced a ruthless display to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
Eduardo volleys home Arsenal's second goal as the Gunners produced a ruthless display to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

Arsene Wenger has unfaltering belief that Arsenal's current crop of youngsters will soon develop to make the team a feared footballing force. Carlos Vela provided a validation of that high praise with a goal of breathtaking quality to send the Gunners on their way to victory in a delayed FA Cup fifth round tie.

Eduardo then bettered that outstanding effort to confirm a quarter-final meeting with Hull City. The gifted striking pair have often drawn comparisons because they play in a similar fashion. They have class in abundance too. First came some Mexican magic in the 25th minute. Chris Eagles lost the ball weakly and Andrei Arshavin released Vela. He embarrassed Clarke Carlisle with a cheeky nutmeg and then raced clear before finishing calmly with a sublime chip past the advancing Brian Jensen.

Eduardo, the older, experienced version of Vela, then followed his brilliance in the 51st minute with an outrageous goal, using the outside of his left foot to volley home after Alex Song had found him lurking inside the box. It was a flashback to the days of Dennis Bergkamp. The Brazilian-born Croatia international was making his first appearance since a double against Cardiff in the last round, a dream comeback following a year out with a broken leg.

His fabulous follow-up to Vela's effort was the perfect one-two combination to leave Burnley on the ropes and Emmanuel Eboue delivered the knock-out blow in the 84th minute with a low drive, after Song's backheel. Owen Coyle's side had claimed the scalps of five Premier League teams this season, including Chelsea and Arsenal in the Carling Cup. Kevin McDonald was the hero when Wenger's rough diamonds failed to sparkle in a 2-0 defeat back in December. But three months on, the young Gunners are wiser and better for that experience; determined to end a frustrating season on a high.

The margin of victory could and should have been wider, with Jensen, the Burnley keeper, denying Eboue and then Theo Walcott with good blocks. Walcott could be forgiven for being a little rusty on his comeback following four months out with a shoulder injury, but he was too quick for the linesman, who wrongly flagged for offside when he broke swiftly to set up Robin van Persie near the end. The England international's return could be crucial for the trip to Roma on Wednesday in the Champions League. With confidence, belief and goals, it is no wonder Wenger is smiling again.

"It is important to have competition and that we have the resources on the bench [like Walcott] to come on and score goals; that we are dangerous," he said. "It is good for us to go to Roma, knowing that we have done the job well. We scored three good goals. The first two were exceptional goals, but I liked the third one too, it was a good combination." akhan@thenational.ae