Wednesday 3, Arsenal 0: Owls in dreamland as they stun the Gunners at Hillsborough

Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson scores his side's third goal against Arsenal. Pic: PA
Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson scores his side's third goal against Arsenal. Pic: PA

Late Monday night, Owls assistant coach Lee Bullen made a special appeal to Wednesdayites on social media.

He called on the supporters lucky enough to have snapped up a ticket for their Capital One Cup fourth round showdown with Arsenal to bring the noise.

Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson (second left) celebrates with his teammates

Sheffield Wednesday's Sam Hutchinson (second left) celebrates with his teammates

They didn’t let the former Wednesday captain down.

Under the lights at a near sold-out Hillsborough, the fans cheered on their blue and white heroes with real passion and gusto.

Their team did not disappoint them.

Given the magnitude of the occasion, it would have been easy for the players to have been intimidated by playing in front of a 35,000 plus crowd for the first time in three and a half years.

Would they suffer from stage fright? Not a bit of it.

Their team embraced the big stage, enjoying being in the national spotlight against one of the best sides in the country.

Every tackle made, throw in won or decision that went Wednesday’s way was celebrated like a goal. The fans never stopped singing and encouraging their boys.

The rendition of ‘Hi Ho Sheffield Wednesday’ before kick-off set the tone. Indeed, the Kop made one heck of a racket throughout.

In a re-run of the two domestic cup finals 22 years ago, both won by the Londoners, the Owls deservedly claimed their first ever League Cup victory over Arsenal at the sixth time of asking.

Goals by Ross Wallace, Lucas Joao and Sam Hutchinson ensured Wednesday booked a place in the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2002 and stretched their unbeaten run to nine matches.

It has to be pointed out that Arsenal were not at full-strength for their first visit to Hillsborough in 15 years. Arsene Wenger rested several of his top performers, giving youth a chance by handing debuts to youngsters Alex Iwobi and Glen Kamara. With tricky away trips to Swansea and Bayern Munich looming, Wenger opted to take no risks with world class talent such as Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil.

But the side Wenger selected should still have been more than good enough to see off the spirited Owls, who were watched on by chairman Dejphon Chansiri.

The visitors were forced to rejig their side after less than five minutes when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken off with a hamstring injury and replaced by England international Theo Walcott.

Wednesday fielded a strong side, making only two enforced changes. With Keiren Westwood nursing an ankle problem and Fernando Forestieri cup-tied, Joe Wildsmith and Jeremy Helan came in.

Carlos Carvalhal’s men hussled and harried their illustrious opponents into submission, giving them no time to settle on the ball and play through them.

There was some heroic defending at times, with captain Glenn Loovens producing a vital tackle when the speedy Walcott threatened to break clear in the 13th minute. Walcott was later forced off with an injury.

Wallace registered his second Owls goal after a lovely free-flowing involving Barry Bannan and Daniel Pudil. It was a strike Arsenal would have been proud of and turned the electric atmosphere inside the ground up another notch.

Hutchinson can count himself lucky to have not been sent off after a late challenge on Iwobi. Referee Graham Scott adjudged the foul to only be worthy of a booking. It was Hutchinson’s ninth caution in 13 outings, meaning he is just one away from triggering a two-match suspension. Hutchinson worked tirelessly in the centre and was given a standing ovation when he was brought off after picking up a knock in the closing stages.

Wallace came close to bagging his second, curling a free kick agonisingly off target.

For all their possession, Arsenal lacked fluency in the final third, missing the speed of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott. Iwobi cut inside from the left and drilled a low shot into the side-netting as they tried to regroup.

But Wednesday soaked up the pressure and always looked dangerous on the counter attack and Jeremy Helan forced Petr Cech into a smart save after a mazy run by the Frenchman.

From the resulting corner, the hosts caught Arsenal napping with a short corner routine and Wallace turned provider, delivering a peach of a cross which Joao gleefully headed home for his fourth goal since moving to England. Cue pandemonium in three out of the four stands. Hillsborough was rocking.

Bannan, who ran the show in midfield, tried his luck from distance just after the re-start only to

Everybody of a blue and white persuasion went absolutely bonkers when Hutchinson turned in Tom Lees’ clever pull back back from close range to make it three nil.

Arsenal just could not live with the tempo and intensity of Wednesday’s play. The hosts were just hungrier and wanted it more.

Joao arguably should have grabbed a fourth following a tremendous centre by Bannan but the Angolan-born player glanced narrowly wide. And to think Carvalhal only rated Wednesday’s chances of causing an upset at 10 per cent!

With 20 minutes left, Wildsmith had to be alert to deny Per Mertesacker after the big German rose above Jack Hunt at the back post as Arsenal briefly threatened to reduce their arrears. Joel Campbell volleyed wide in the dying minutes to sum up Arsenal’s frustration.

But Wednesday were not to be denied their moment.

It was a special night and the fans were bouncing at the final whistle. If the Owls carry on producing performances of such a high standard, it might not be that long before they are regularly rubbing shoulders with Arsenal at the highest level again.

Wednesday: Wildsmith; Hunt, Loovens, Lees, Pudil; Lee, Hutchinson (McGugan 80), Bannan (Semedo 75), Wallace, Helan; Joao (Nuhiu 85). substitutes: Price, Palmer, Semedo, Nuhiu, McGugan, Bus, Sasso.

Arsenal: Cech; Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Gibbs; Kamara, Flamini; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Walcott 5, Bennacer 19), Campbell, Iwobi; Giroud. Substitutes: Macey, Paulista, Monreal, Bielik, Sheaf.

Attendance: 35,065

Referee: Graham Scott (Oxfordshire)