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Yaya Sanago: Arsenal's new all action hero

PROMISING TALENT: Sanogo gestures in Arsenal's 2-1 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup (PA)

YAYA SANOGO was an unknown quantity prior to his first Arsenal career start in the 2-1 FA Cup 5th round win against Liverpool at the Emirates stadium on Sunday (Feb 16).

After a determined outing, which Gunners boss Arsene Wenger described as "excellent," opposition sides will now take note.

The promising young striker signed from Auxerre last summer, Sanago's previous outings came last August from the substitute's bench in the league win at Fulham and the Champions League win over Fenerbahce.

Sidelined with a back injury since then, Sunday was the first real opportunity for Arsenal fans to get a glimpse of their 6ft 3in striker, and most will have left the Emirates stadium with a wry smile of satisfaction, not only for the revenge win over the Reds and Arsenal's FA Cup progression, but also in the knowledge that in Sanogo, Wenger may have uncovered yet another gem.

Theo Walcott once referred to his new team-mate as "a big unit." Just how big could be a question posed to Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel who struggled to get to grips with Sanogo's all action style.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring with a sweetly struck shot but the way in which Sanogo rose to control the ball in a crowded area before firing off a shot which came back off Steven Gerrard and into Oxlade-Chamberlain's line of sight for the opener cannot be underestimated.

Asking a 21-year-old to play up front and alone was what mystified Arsenal's fans when they learnt of Sanogo's start against Liverpool. Having seen what the France striker brings however and they soon appreciated his total focus.

Sanogo chased, blocked and tracked back in support of the cause. When Mathieu Flamini pointed to his being out of position as the team defended another Liverpool attack, Sanogo raced back for the cause earning applause and cheers from the fans.

His manager was left totally impressed with Sanogo's work.

"For a first performance he was excellent. He was always in the game, he was a handful for them," Wenger said.

"It's his first official game basically, he played one game in the reserves for 60 minutes. Considering the intensity of the game, he was absolutely excellent."

Sanogo has been prolific at all youth levels for France, and was a member of the team that won France's first Under-20 World Cup, which was held in Turkey last summer. He was in the starting line-up for all of France's matches and he was his country's top scorer in the tournament with a total of four goals.

In his earlier days, Sanogo, who is of Ivorian heritage, was bizarrely overlooked for a place at France's famed Clairfontaine Academy, ending up at Paris club CO Les Ulis where France and Arsenal all-time record goal scorer Thierry Henry also started his journey in football.

If Sanogo can repeat in part those incredible feats of Gunners' legend Henry, then more will come to applaud the talents of Sanogo.

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