Brighton 2 - 3 Arsenal
In the fourth round of the FA cup, Arsenal travelled south to face a Brighton. The Gunners were looking to build on their emphatic win against West Ham in mid-week, and despite stern resistance from the Seagulls, Arsenal managed to progress. Just.
Brighton started the first half with an air of dominance about them. They controlled the majority of possession and were making dangerous through-balls in behind the Arsenal back four.
However, following a Brighton move in the sixteenth minute, Tomas Rosicky picked up the ball in the Arsenal half, and sped down the right-wing, sparking a dangerous counter-attack. He played the ball in to Podolski, who touched it to Giroud. The Big Frenchman was around twenty yards out when he pushed the ball into space and curled it beautifully into the top corner.
The Gunners were by no means in full control of proceedings, and Brighton were looking far more dangerous in the final third - so Giroud’s goal was an extremely welcome one.
Despite conceding, Brighton got their heads down and continued to build on their promising start. They concentrated their attacking moves down the right flank, looking to take advantage of Andre Santos’ poor defending, which hampered Arsenal all game.[quote_right]”The introduction of Wilshere, Gibbs & Walcott made a serious impact on the game. Arsenal were now fully equipped to dismantle a tired Brighton defence.”[/quote_right]
In the thirty-third minute, Brighton’s hard word paid off. A routine corner was swung into the Arsenal box, and Szczesney left his goal-line to meet the ball as it came in. The Pole was far too relaxed, and was slow to the ball, allowing Barnes to get there before of him, heading the ball into an open net.
The remainder of the first half was closely contested by both teams. Both Arsenal & Brighton were pressing well offensively, but poor defending from both sides meant the game was becoming more and more open.
The second half delivered exactly what the first half promised. An open, end to end game sprinkled with goals.
Olivier Giroud in particular was leading the line well, and making intelligent runs. Lukas Podolski was having a quiet game in comparison to his excellent performance against West Ham, but managed to rattle a free kick off the Brighton crossbar anyway.
In the fifty-sixth minute, Abou Diaby played a teasing ball over the top of the Brighton back-line. Giroud had made yet another good run, accompanied by a good first touch. unphased by his marker and an oncoming goalkeeper, Giroud hammered the ball into the net, sending Arsenal into the lead.
Arsenal were now hoping their shaky start had been resolved via good attacking play, but the Seagulls had offensive plans of their own. Just five minutes after Giroud’s goal, Brighton managed to get in another cross down through the right channel. The ball was a good one, and the Arsenal back-line was simply unprepared. Ulloa got his head to it, guiding it into the net. It was typical Arsenal defending.
The last half-hour of the game was tense. The introduction of Wilshere, Gibbs & Walcott made a serious impact on the game. Arsenal were now fully equipped to dismantle a tired Brighton defence.
Jack Wilshere in particular immediately stamped his authority on the game. His wavy runs and accurate passes were exploiting the gaps in Brighton’s defences, and it was certainly taking its toll on the Seagulls. Arsenal however, couldn’t finish the job.
That is, until the eighty-eighth minute. An Arsenal corner was not dealt with by Brighton, and Theo Walcott volleyed a powerful shot goalward. The ball deflected heavily off the Brighton defender El-Abd and into the net. The Gunners had finally managed to seal their victory, albeit with a stroke of luck.
The Seagulls certainly put up a valiant fight, in what proved to be an exciting game. However, Arsenal’s firepower eventually saw them through to the next round of the FA Cup.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Was at fault for Brighton’s first goal, and should have been more commanding. But he produced an excellent save early in the first half.
Carl looked nervous on the ball at times, but was never shy going forward. He put in a few good crosses, and generally defended well. I’d start him against Liverpool.
Should have perhaps done better for Brighton’s second goal by getting to the ball first, but had a solid game otherwise. He even managed a cheeky Cruyff Turn on Ulloha.
Won several aerial battles, and defended well on the ground also. Was left exposed at times, but dealt well with the majority of attacks. Again, could have done better for Brighton’s second goal.
A rare start for Andre Santos, and it’s not hard to see why. He left Koscielny exposed countless times with poor positioning, and was almost non-existent going forward. He floated in no-mans-land for most of the game, producing little. Replaced by Gibbs.
I haven’t been a fan of Ramsey so far this season, but his last two performances have been promising. He broke up the play well and made some decent runs forward both on and off the ball. His passing was also far better than usual.
It’s clear to see that Abou’s fitness is still not all there. Much of the game passed him by, and he failed to dominate the midfield. However, his pass for Giroud’s second goal was superb.
At a period when Brighton were on top in the first half, Rosciky was finding space excellently, and running at players to create chances. His excellent run down field was key for Giroud’s first goal. Ran out of steam and was replaced by Wilshere.
Didn’t reach the same levels as his West Ham performance, but he managed yet another assist, plus a free kick off the crossbar.
The Ox: [6/10]
Failed to impact the game at all, and didn’t cause Wayne Bridge any real issues. Needs to find his creative spark again. Replaced by Walcott.
MOTM. Olivier was at the heart of every Arsenal attack, and led the line brilliantly for ninety minutes. His first goal was sublime, and his second was the type of goal Arsenal need more of - a simple chance effectively converted. Giroud showed real hunger and passion today.
Had a limited time on the pitch, but yet again produced a stand-out performance. His passes opened up the Brighton defence on various occasions.
Came on to shore up the Arsenal defence, and did just that. Gibbs also made some good penetrative runs with the ball.
Came off the bench to grab the winner, and showed good determination & pace to beat two Brighton defenders in the closing seconds of the game.
[title]Gunning Down Seagulls[/title]
Arsenal desperately needed to build upon their win against West Ham, and they did just that via w well fought battle. It wasn’t a dominating performance from the Gunners, but it ensured progression, and will certainly add confidence to the players.
Olivier Giroud was superb throughout, and will now look forward to Liverpool on Wednesday. Arteta & Vermaelen will hopefully be fit, and we can use today’s well-earned win as a spring-board for the rest of the season. I hope.
What did you think of the Bright Vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below.