Lincoln boss defends Wenger as Arsenal fans call for ‘Wexit’
Non-league club's fairytale FA Cup run is ended as Gunners go through to a Wembley semi-final - but boss Wenger faces further questions over Bayern thrashing
12 March, 2017 — By Tom Foot
FA Cup Quarter-Final
ARSENAL 5, LINCOLN CITY 0
LINCOLN City’s manager leapt to the defence of Arsene Wenger after the non-league side’s fairytale FA Cup run came to an abrupt end.
Danny Cowley said that “anyone who knows about football” can see how “tactically intelligent” Arsenal boss Wenger’s players are, adding: “That comes from good coaching.”
Anger over the 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich was still lingering in the air and a protest of around 250 fans had called for “Wexit” – a Wenger exit – before the match.
Theo Walcott opens the scoring in the FA Cup quarter-final tie at the Emirates
But Cowley said: “People criticise Wenger as they have this week, but anyone who knows about football can see the way the players move, and tactically how intelligent they are. You haven’t got to watch a coach to see how good they are – you see it in the identity of a team, in the way players play.
“Anyone who has stood the test of time like Wenger deserves respect in my opinion.”
Wenger faced spent the first half of his post-match press conference answering questions about the Bayern game.
Lincoln struggle to contain Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez as the non-league club’s FA Cup adventure was brought to an end
He again insisted that the players had an “outstanding game” and that the referee’s decision to send off Laurent Koscielny had ruined the match.
He said: “I have watched the game three times now and we had an outstanding game, until the sending off. The players did not let me or the club down.”
The Gunners are on their way to Wembley for a FA Cup semi-final after a comfortable five-goal win.
Olivier Giroud makes it 2-0 to Arsenal
Lincoln had started strongly and could have taken the lead on the half-hour mark when Nathan Arnold raced into the box, cut back around Koscielny and curled a left-footed half volley towards the far corner. Petr Cech was at full stretch to palm it around the post.
Theo Walcott put Arsenal ahead just before half-time with a well-struck shot that deflected cruelly past goalkeeper Paul Farman.
After watching the Cup win over Lincoln, Arsene Wenger insisted his players ‘did not let me or the club down’ in the midweek defeat against Bayern Munich
The Lincoln keeper had made a string of good saves including pushing a stinging Walcott volley onto the post.
With Lincoln flagging in the second half, Oliver Giroud finished off a crisp one-touch passing move to make it 2-0 on 54 minutes. An unfortunate own goal from Lincoln captain Luke Waterfall made it three before Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey made finished off the rout.
Cowley said: “It’s like a boxer on the ropes – you get your dukes up, but sooner or later you’re going to get hit.”
Arsenal fans hold up familiar banners calling for Arsene Wenger to go
There were genuinely touching scenes at the end as the Lincoln manager applauded the thousands of travelling fans – and Cowley even got a standing ovation from the media after his interview.
He said he was looking forward to “seeing his kids again” and to the media attention dying down.
He added: “We saw what world-class players can do when they’re confident. That’s why they earn something like three times our annual salary in a week. Now I’m looking forward to being fish and chip paper.”
ARSENAL: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Gibbs, Xhaka (Coquelin, 76), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Ozil, 27), Ramsey, Walcott, Sanchez, Giroud (Lucas, 65).
Subs not used: Martinez, Gabriel, Monreal, Iwobi.
Tickets sold: 59,896.