Match ends, Sutton United 0, Arsenal 2.
Sutton United 0-2 Arsenal
Arsenal avoided an FA Cup giant-killing and spared manager Arsene Wenger further pressure with a hard-fought fifth-round victory over non-league Sutton United at Gander Green Lane.
Wenger made seven changes from the side thrashed 5-1 at Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie - and his players had enough to see off a team 105 places below them on English football's ladder.
Lucas Perez's cross-shot gave Arsenal the lead after 26 minutes and Theo Walcott doubled the advantage from close range 10 minutes after the break with his 100th goal for the club.
Victory set up a home quarter-final with another National League side, Lincoln City, who beat Burnley on Saturday.
Sutton had their moments, particularly when Adam May wasted a first-half chance from keeper David Ospina's poor clearance, and Roarie Deacon's fierce 25-yard drive struck the bar in the second half.
The result may have gone against them but the hosts emerged from this tie, and this FA Cup run, with huge credit.
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Arsenal get the job done
Arsenal were on a hiding to nothing after a turbulent week in the wake of their Champions League mauling in Munich, which leaves them on the brink of elimination in the last 16 once more.
The Gunners walked out here with speculation mounting over the future of Wenger and familiar questions being asked about Arsenal's stomach for the fight when the season reaches its pressure points.
Their performance was uncertain and hardly designed to banish the criticism, although allowances must be made for a tricky artificial surface that was heavily saturated before kick-off and again at half-time.
It was simply a question of getting the job done and avoiding embarrassment. There was never going to be any credit in this for Arsenal. And on that basis this can be judged a satisfactory night.
Respite for Wenger
Wenger's troubles were illustrated by the swarm of photographers that surrounded his dugout when he made his entrance - usually the sign of a manager under scrutiny.
The Frenchman, like his players, just needed to get out of Gander Green Lane unscathed and not fall victim to any further humiliation after the harrowing encounter in Munich's Allianz Arena.
This was not a sparkling Arsenal show but they now have what looks like an inviting path to Wembley.
Lincoln may have ousted Burnley, but it takes a huge leap of the imagination to see them denying Arsenal and Wenger a place in the FA Cup semi-finals.
Arsenal still have the chance to add to their tally of 12 FA Cup wins - and Wenger to his total of six.
Sutton do themselves proud
Sutton United's FA Cup adventure may have ended at the fifth round - but the club, players and staff will have stories that will be part of their history forever.
They are struggling to make an impact in English football's fifth tier but have left an indelible mark on this year's FA Cup with their victory here against Championship giants Leeds United and this meeting with a member of the Premier League elite.
Inevitably, they did not possess the class to rattle Arsenal for long periods but they stuck to their task and even had moments when they gave the Gunners serious concerns in the first half, notably when May failed to take advantage of Ospina's poor clearance.
And even when Walcott gave Arsenal a two-goal advantage, Sutton refused to go quietly, as Jamie Collins headed narrowly over and Deacon rattled the woodwork.
The fairytale was unlikely to materialise but Sutton's approach to the game, not just the team but the entire club, did them great credit.
The atmosphere was buzzing hours before kick-off, the organisation was excellent and everyone entered into the spirit of what was, for them, a huge occasion.
Sutton now return to the more routine business of a trip to Torquay United next weekend before welcoming Boreham Wood.
It was a shame a rather pointless pitch invasion at the end was allowed to linger, but this should be placed in context. The moment of glory may have passed but the memories will remain.
Man of the match - Lucas Perez (Arsenal)
What they said
Sutton manager Paul Doswell: "The support we've had has been amazing. Everyone here is a volunteer, remember that. We're not a League Two club in non-league, we're a traditional non-league club.
"Lincoln and Sutton have done our competition very proud. Best wishes to Lincoln. Go and have your day in the sun like we have."
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger: "We did the job. It is very different on this kind of pitch. It was not an easy game at all. We have to give them credit because every error we made they took advantage of. They played very well.
"It is basically division five and when I arrived here 20 years ago, in division five they were not as fit physically as they were today. They were organised and had a huge desire. If we were not mentally prepared we would not have gone through."
Walcott loves the FA Cup - the stats
- Walcott became the 18th player to score 100 goals in all competitions for Arsenal.
- Walcott has scored six times in his past three away FA Cup games for the Gunners.
- Arsenal have won 10 and lost none of their past 12 FA Cup matches against non-league sides.
- The Gunners have reached the sixth round for the fourth season in a row; a feat they last achieved in 2005 (five in succession).
- Arsenal have lost just one of their past 20 FA Cup games, winning 17 (D2 L1).
- Sutton United have won as many FA Cup games (excluding qualifiers) this season (four), as QPR have in the past 20 years.
- Sutton midfielder Nicky Bailey made more tackles (eight) and interceptions (six) than any other player.
While Sutton visit Torquay in the National League on Saturday, the Gunners are not in action until 4 March, when they travel to Liverpool in the Premier League.
- 4BeckwithSubstituted forSpenceat 70'minutes
- 12MaySubstituted forHudson-Odoiat 71'minutes
- 24BiamouSubstituted forFitchettat 82'minutes
- 35ElnenySubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 45'minutes
- 29XhakaBooked at 24mins
- 31Reine-AdelaideBooked at 40minsSubstituted forMaitland-Nilesat 74'minutes
- 17IwobiSubstituted forSánchezat 74'minutes
- Michael Oliver
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Sutton United 0, Arsenal 2.
Attempt blocked. Lucas Pérez (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Offside, Sutton United. Ross Worner tries a through ball, but Bradley Hudson-Odoi is caught offside.
Offside, Arsenal. David Ospina tries a through ball, but Lucas Pérez is caught offside.
Corner, Sutton United. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.
Attempt missed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. Assisted by Theo Walcott following a corner.
Attempt blocked. Gabriel (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lucas Pérez.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Kevin Amankwaah.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Simon Downer (Sutton United) because of an injury.
Hand ball by Dan Fitchett (Sutton United).
Corner, Sutton United. Conceded by Shkodran Mustafi.
Attempt blocked. Bradley Hudson-Odoi (Sutton United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Roarie Deacon.
Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Jamie Collins (Sutton United).
Substitution, Sutton United. Dan Fitchett replaces Maxime Biamou.
Attempt missed. Alexis Sánchez (Arsenal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Gabriel.
Attempt saved. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Alexis Sánchez.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jamie Collins.
Substitution, Arsenal. Alexis Sánchez replaces Alex Iwobi.
Substitution, Arsenal. Ainsley Maitland-Niles replaces Jeff Reine-Adelaide.
Substitution, Sutton United. Bradley Hudson-Odoi replaces Adam May.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Craig Eastmond (Sutton United).
Substitution, Sutton United. Daniel Spence replaces Dean Beckwith.
Foul by Granit Xhaka (Arsenal).
Gomis (Sutton United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Roarie Deacon (Sutton United) hits the bar with a right footed shot from outside the box. Assisted by Maxime Biamou.
Attempt missed. Lucas Pérez (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Theo Walcott.
Attempt missed. Jamie Collins (Sutton United) header from the left side of the six yard box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Roarie Deacon with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Sutton United. Conceded by Nacho Monreal.
Offside, Arsenal. Theo Walcott tries a through ball, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Maxime Biamou (Sutton United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adam May.
Goal! Sutton United 0, Arsenal 2. Theo Walcott (Arsenal) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alex Iwobi.
Attempt missed. Alex Iwobi (Arsenal) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Nacho Monreal.
Attempt blocked. Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Granit Xhaka.
Attempt blocked. Gomis (Sutton United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.
Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Dean Beckwith.
Offside, Sutton United. Simon Downer tries a through ball, but Maxime Biamou is caught offside.