Arsenal travelled south to play Brighton and Hove Albion in the fourth round of the FA Cup, a team who beat Newcastle comfortably 2-0 in the third round and are sitting in 7th in the Championship vying for a play-off place. As expected they were all well up for the encounter, and the early signs suggested that perhaps some of the Arsenal players were not.
It took a great stop from Szczesny in the 14th minute to keep it level in what was a one-on-one chance; the best so far. But mere seconds later up the other end of the pitch, Giroud controlled a pass from Podolski and curled it neatly into the top corner from the edge of the box. Podolski getting himself 4 assists in 2 games with that his latest addition.
But if us Arsenal fans thought we were in for an easy ride, well, you should have known better. Brighton pushed for an equaliser and didn’t the defence put it on a plate for them. Poor all round to say the least. Santos had another shocker, and Brighton attacked that flank time after time. Eventually they were rewarded with a goal from corner, with the Arsenal players left looking at each other after a huge and simultaneous lapse in concentration. Szczesny appeared to call for it, but unfortunately when you call and come to get it, you really have to get it. He didn’t. The inevitable equaliser occured. 1-1.
No changes in the second-half, with many a Gooner praying that Gibbs would come on. Nonetheless, Giroud hit home another with the presence of mind to bring the ball down inside the area and slide past the keeper while under pressure.
Game over, surely?
No sooner had we taken the lead we were left wondering, as usual, why Wenger doesn’t sort out the defence. A calamity of errors and the seasiders were back on level terms. Disaster had struck, surely we couldn’t face yet another replay.
Wilshere and Walcott were summoned and tilted the game in our favour. Gibbs also came on for Santos, who received a well-deserved, echoing cheer of sarcasm. A replacement has to be up there as a priority, he is completely unreliable yet he shall probably end up loan with some of the fellow can’t-be-sold players, Denilson, Bendtner, Park, Chamakh, etc. Another bad buy in the defensive department from Wenger.
With a huge sigh of relief from Wenger and all the Arsenal fans, a winner was found. It had to be that man, Theo Walcott. A long range, deflected shot found it’s way into the corner and Brighton were left with nothing but pride for their efforts. 3-2.
It was a typical cup game where the lower league team wanted it so much and worked so hard to get it, but it’s these games that tend to separate the best from the rest, and although we should be beating Brighton undoubtedly, we didn’t have the best of games. Time and time again the successful teams are those who scrap out the wins when they may not deserve them, or don’t play as well. And that’s exactly what we did, dug in and got the win.
Hopefully the fifth round draw is kind to us, especially with Bayern Munich to play just 3 days later. I really feel this is a competition that we have a chance to win and hopefully can. It could be the foundation that sets us off for future successes. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!