Ten Thoughts: Sutton United 0-2 Arsenal

That was a bloody surreal game of football, huh?

I don't know if I've ever been this disgusted with a win before (seriously, hear me out), so we'll do this quick.

1. OK, seriously you guys, this match way messed with the space-time continuum. The first half felt like it took about four seconds to complete - as I said at the pub. apparently time flies when you're patronizing a non-league club to within an inch of its life. But, that second half...my god, ice ages have come and gone faster than that took to finish. When I die and go to hell, that alleged 45 minutes will play on an endless loop for eternity. CAN'T WAIT.

2. The starting XI was a sight to behold, though. Someone finally let Mohamed Elneny and Lucas Perez out of whatever stasis chamber they've been held in, Theo Walcott was up top as the central striker because, you know, that's been proven to work before in the past. The Hyphen Boys were in full effect, and Rob Holding got a permission slip from his parents to be let out of nursery school to play.

I will say this, though. There is literally no permutation of a starting eleven that Arsene Wenger could have put out that would have pleased everyone. Some would have wanted all reserves, some wanted our best eleven to play, some wanted a mix, some wanted X player to play, on and on and on. The poor guy was on a hiding to nothing from the jump here.

3. Speaking of a hiding to nothing, we as a club were really on one with this fixture. Win big, and, well, it's just Sutton United. Have any trouble, and, well, you're having trouble with Sutton United. Just as there was no starting eleven to please everyone, I don't know if there was a result that would have pleased everyone either. Please do take what I have to say next with those grains of salt.

4. That said, I was absolutely enraged with the way that the team approached this match. Especially given that the FA Cup is the only realistic chance of silverware this season...fucking AGAIN...I would have wanted us to tear into this lot and truly make a statement that we were out to win this thing. If it's going to be our trademark competition, shit, it's not the one I would have chosen but let's at least own in it in that case. That...umm...didn't happen here.

What did happen is that we faffed around like this was a testimonial match, and that filled me with rage. It was beyond disrespectful to our opponents, and if they had like 5% more quality they could have seriously punished us for our hubris. More on that in a bit.

5. So, I'll just come out and say it. Theo Walcott was our best player by miles today. Note that this is emphatically not a high bar to cross, but he did have a large part to play in both of our goals. Obviously he scored the second, but the first was far more down to him than the guy who actually scored it.

Look, it was great to get Lucas Perez on the scoresheet - future historians will one day write doctoral dissertations on why he doesn't play far more often than he does. But, that low daisy-cutter is saved by anyone with a functioning central nervous system in most cases. Theo, however, did a clever thing. He came across the keeper's line of sight and tried to change the shot's direction with a back flick. If he had connected, the keeper has no chance...you can't change direction that quickly and get down in time.

He didn't get that done, but even the chance of that happening meant that the keeper had to legislate for it. The thing is, making a save is a split-second action that often happens at a speed beyond conscious thought. If you have to legislate for something like a last-moment deflection, you cannot physically perform the kind of save you'd normally do if you let subconscious thought take the wheel.

6. Now, here's something that infuriated me almost into an early grave - why on earth did Alexis Sanchez come into this game with a 2-0 lead after 70-whatever minutes? Danny Welbeck played no part in this fixture precisely because we were afraid of the effect that the artificial 3G pitch would have on his injury recovery. Mesut Ozil was nowhere near Sutton today because he's too valuable to lose. You'll note that truly irreplaceable pieces of the puzzle such as Hector Bellerin and Laurent Koscielny also didn't play.

Given everything else that has come before, we can only come to the conclusion that Alexis is dictating his own playing time, and that is seriously not on. He is a superlative player, I'm super-glad he's on our team, but he is not the only superlative player out there in the world. For me, it is a serious bloody problem if the inmates are running the asylum to this extent. Arsenal can and will survive without Alexis Sanchez - and if it is at the point where he'll walk if he doesn't get 20 minutes in a game like this? Mate, I'll drive you to fucking Heathrow myself.

7. Right, so back to our ridiculous hubris thing. I've seen some opinions out there that we should have put up a cricket score here, and, well, do you actually understand how football works? The gap between divisions 1 and 5 in England is demonstrably smaller than it is anywhere else in the world. Sutton can play a little, and it shows in the fact that one of our own in Craig Eastmond is one of their star men.

Either way, let's just say for argument that they weren't that good, though. Let's say that it was 11 Bambis on ice skates that some geniuses out there were intimating. Fine. Do the party tricks and complacent bullshit when it's 4-0 or 5-0, as opposed to when it's still within touching distance.

Sutton hit the crossbar in the 65th minute on a shot that very well could have gone in. It'd still have only been 2-1 at that point, but if you get that far, you're only falling asleep on a corner kick away from it being 2-2. And, of course, we've NEVER done that before.

Before that, David Ospina managed to send a short goal kick directly to one of their guys, and Rob Holding ballooned a backpass almost into the top corner of Ospina's net. There is an alternate universe out there where we lost this 3-2. Turn that over in your mind a bit, and ask yourself if this lot gave this the attention it deserved.

8. See, that's the thing. I've done the math and determined that I've played in over 1000 matches over the last 11-12 years that I've been playing football. Of course, it's at a bullshit level compared to what we're talking about here, but man, it's still the same sport. The ball is still round, you know? Anyway, that Ospina pass...as I said in the pub, as dodgy a keeper as I am sometimes, I've *never* made a pass like that in a 1-1 game...or in a final, or a semifinal, or what-have-you.

All of the signs are there that we just turned up and gave the minimum possible effort. There were times where our guys looked absolutely disgusted that they had to play in a fixture like this.

Fuck. I love this club with every fiber of my being but I'm not entirely sure I like this team. Please tell me that you understand that distinction.

9. So, Wayne Shaw. This man, on one hand, is my hero. On the other, apparently the pie-eating thing was a stunt perpetrated by The Sun. There is a layer of hell reserved for that rag, I promise you that.

10. I wonder if we'll take Lincoln City more seriously because we'll be in the comforts of home. Honestly? I kind of doubt it.

Man of the Match: Theo Walcott.