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Arsenal 3-1 Plymouth

Arsenal's Robin van Persie is challenged by Plymouth's Karl Duguid
Van Persie and Duguid were both on the scoresheets at the Emirates

Three second-half goals saw Arsenal take their place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with victory over Plymouth.

Captain Robin van Persie put the home side in front two minutes after the interval before on-loan defender David Gray turned the ball into his net.

Karl Duguid pulled a goal back for the visitors on 53 minutes when he fired past a flapping Lukasz Fabianski.

But Van Persie netted his second on 83 minutes after keeper Romain Larrieu parried his first shot inside the box.

Although the Gunners were made to sweat after Duguid's goal, Plymouth were outplayed by their their Premier League opponents for most of the game.

The Pilgrims had Larrieu to thank for maintaining parity at half time as he produced to deny Arsenal an opener.

The best of the lot was a superb reaction save to deny Emmanuel Eboue on 15 minutes after excellent work from the industrious Aaron Ramsey.

Plymouth's best chance in the first 45 minutes fell to Paul Gallagher, whose clever chip was tipped over the bar by Fabianski.

Arsenal's injury problems were further compounded when Mikael Silvestre limped off with an injury 10 minutes before the break, with substitute Kieron Gibbs slotting in at left-back.

But the Gunners took the lead in the first minute after the restart when Van Persie rose unmarked to head Samir Nasri's corner past Larrieu.

The Dutchman turned provider three minutes later when he squared the ball for Niklaus Bendtner, but he was beaten to the ball by Manchester United defender Gray, making his debut for Plymouth, who agonisingly turned the ball past Larrieu.


Duguid cut Arsenal's celebrations short on 53 minutes when he fired past Fabianski, who failed to deal with Luke Summerfield's free-kick.

But the setback did not hinder Arsenal for long and they continued to push forward, with Van Persie looking particularly menacing.

The 25-year-old added his second seven minutes from time after fine work from Nasri on the break.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"I give credit to my team for doing the job seriously, and also to Plymouth who had a great game as well.

"I was surprised how well they were organised and how strong they were in every challenge. They did not die physically and were always dangerous on set plays.

"The gap between the Championship and the Premiership has been reduced and looking at the FA Cup results today, you could see that."

Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock:
"I am very pleased with the team's overall performance, but gutted to have given away those two goals just after half-time when I had warned the players what to expect.

"That really kicked us in the teeth, but we dug deep to get out a goal and if someone had told me that just seven minutes from the end we would be chasing the game against Arsenal, a world-class team, I would have bitten their hand off.

"The fans were fantastic, and I am glad we got a goal for them to celebrate, and hopefully they will go home appreciating the boys gave all they had."

Arsenal: Fabianski, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Silvestre (Gibbs 30), Eboue (Vela 70), Diaby, Nasri, Ramsey, Van Persie, Bendtner (Wilshere 86). Subs Not Used: Almunia, Adebayor, Bischoff, Randall.

Booked: Bendtner.

Goals: Van Persie 47, Gray 50 og, Van Persie 85.

Plymouth: Larrieu, Cathcart, Seip, Gray, Barker, Clark (Noone 78), Summerfield, Duguid, Mackie, Gallagher (MacLean 72), Fallon. Subs Not Used: Saxton, Timar, Folly, Doumbe, Mpenza.

Booked: Duguid.

Goals: Duguid 53.

Att: 59,424

Ref: Mike Jones (Cheshire).

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see also
FA Cup photos
03 Jan 09 |  FA Cup

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