Arsenal breezed past Coventry City at the Emirates to advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup. In control from the start, the Gunners were sent clear early on by a brace from Lukas Podolski and never looked back, eventually running out comfortable 4-0 winners against a Coventry side who were only really in the match for a few minutes after halftime.
Podolski first struck in the 15th minute. Played through by Mesut Ozil, the winger jinked his way around Joe Murphy then slotted into the empty net from an acute finish. Ten minutes later, he had doubled their lead after a Per Mertescker flick at the near post gave him a free header on a corner, essentially securing passage to the next round before half an hour had elapsed.
Between Podolski's goals, Carl Baker almost leveled for Coventry with a superb strike from range which Lukasz Fabianski was forced to tip over the crossbar, but that was a rare moment of promise from the visitors, who spent the vast majority of the half on the back foot. Indeed, most of the attention was on Coventry's supporters, who showed up en masse at the Emirates with "Why" placards to protest the club's relocation to Northampton. There was time for some light-hearted entertainment when a handful of the floodlights failed 10 minutes before the break, and Nicklas Bendtner also added some levity by trying to kick the football every now and then.
Leon Clarke had two opportunities to change the story just after the restart. First, he raced clear of the Arsenal defense after a fine through ball from Baker, but went too far wide and allowed Fabianski to cut out his shooting angle. Then he hit the post from 16 yards following Franck Moussa's cutback.
Those two chances turned out to be a blip rather than a full-blown crisis, and the hosts quickly reestablished full control of the match. They were soon comfortable enough to field teenager Gedion Zelamen, handing the midfielder his debut in the 71st minute as part of a double substitution, which managed to fulfill Arsene Wenger's long-standing dream of fielding a side consisting entirely of scampering trickmongers.
Not that that lasted too long -- eight minutes later, Olivier Giroud came on for Podolski, and the striker eventually got onto the end of Kieran Gibbs' low cross to smash past Murphy and kill off the match once and for all. Cazorla and Giroud both had chances to extend Arsenal's lead, and the former eventually made it 4-0 with time running out when he volleyed home a rebound from Carl Jenkinson's well-struck shot.
Ozil had a chance to make it five in stoppage time, but he hit the post with a left-footed effort rather than sticking what looked like a fairly straightforward finish past Murphy. It turned out not to matter very much.
Arsenal starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Lukasz Fabianski; Kieran Gibbs, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Carl Jenkinson; Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gedion Zelalem 71'); Lukas Podolski (Olivier Giroud 79'), Mesut Ozil, Serge Gnaby; Nicklas Bendtner (Santi Cazorla 71').
Goals: Podolski 15' 27', Giroud 84', Cazorla 89'.
Coventry City starting lineup (4-4-2): Joe Murphy; Blair Adams, Andy Webster, Conor Thomas, Cyrus Christie; Billy Daniels, John Fleck, Carl Baker, Daniel Seaborne; Leon Clarke, Franck Moussa (Jordan Clarke 88').