Portsmouth 0 Arsenal 2
Sokratis 45+4, Nketiah 51

Arsenal beat Portsmouth in their FA Cup fifth round encounter against Portsmouth at Fratton Park courtesy of goals either side of the break for Sokratis and Eddie Nketiah. The Gunners evening however was marred with an ankle injury to Lucas Torreira following a heavy tackle by James Bolton. Dani Ceballos replaced him after 16 minutes. Mikel Arteta elected to make nine changes from his side’s Europa League shock exit to Olympiacos, making nine changes, and with seven of his starting line up under 23 years old. Pablo Mari made his debut in an Arsenal defence which held firm from a Pompey who had not been beaten at home in the league.

“To come here, to this stadium, with seven under-23 players, and to dominate completely is a little bit unrealistic but we went through that moment [in the beginning] and after that we started to take the ball and play in the opposition half and dominate the situation much better. We scored the goals and should have scored more.”

One of his young line up Reiss Nelson gave both assists on a night when his team effort and willingness to work with and without the ball, gave Arteta compelling evidence for more starts. Nelson’s cross from deep on the right was met first time by Sokratis to volley in the opener with all the ease of a consummate finisher.

Six minutes after the re-start, Nketiah’;s poaching instincts doubled Arsenal’s lead. Again Nelson was the instigator with a pass which Nketiah’s willingness to race into the box caused panic for Pompey’s rearguard. Nketiah got to the ball to strike high into Bass’s net with a bit of improvisation along the way.

Emiliano Martinez had a largely watchful brief as Pompey rarely got going in the second half. The Gunners’ domination warranted further goals, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli went close. However Arsenal had done enough to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals leaving Arteta vindicated on his youthful selection.

“I am pleased with all of them, the kids really responded really well. The energy… I was looking at them in the 94th minute and they were still pressing and going and chasing. It is a joy and I am really enjoying working with them. They fully deserve the chance and I don’t know if it risky to play them in this competition but they are worth a risk.”

The Gunners have now reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in five of the past seven seasons but for the first time since 2016-17, the year they won the cup.