Reviewing Arsenal’s FA Cup 4th Round Opponents: Brighton
As recently as the 2012/13 campaign, Arsenal visited the Amex Stadium to take on a Brighton side that had advanced to the fourth round after a shock win over Newcastle. That Brighton and Hove Albion, under the tutelage of Gus Poyet, had some household names with the likes of Wayne Bridge, Ashley Barnes (currently at Burnley), Liam Bridcutt (currently at Sunderland) and of course, the debutant, Leonardo Ulloa (currently at Leicester). The Gunners played the fixture on the back of two agonizing defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea that was sandwiched in between a FA Cup third round replay against Swansea.
With half an eye on the midweek clash against Liverpool (game ended 2-2), Arsene Wenger made some wholesale changes to the team, bringing on Andre Santos and Carl Jenkinson in the fullback positions, Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky in midfield and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in attack. The Gunners opened the scoring with a sumptuous finish from Olivier Giroud and against the run of play, Barnes rose highest from a corner to equalize for the home side. 10 minutes into the restart, Diaby darted forward and chipped a lovely ball for Giroud. His first touch was perfect, his second even better. Brighton restored parity to the scoreline with a diving header from Ulloa but it took a late Theo Walcott deflected effort to settle the contest.
Arsenal qualified for the fifth round clash against Blackburn and Wenger rested his key players because of the Champions League first leg tie against Bayern Munich. The move backfired horribly as the Gunners lost to Blackburn and also lost to Bayern Munich. Last season, Wenger was faced with the same dilemma last season with a FA Cup clash against Liverpool and a clash against Bayern around the corner but he opted to use his first team and he won Liverpool. Even though he lost to Bayern yet again.
A lot has happened since the last time Arsenal and Brighton met two seasons ago. From a personnel standpoint, players like Marouane Chamakh, Gervinho, Andrei Arshavin, Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Sebastien Squillaci, Johan Djourou, Lukasz Fabianski and Ignasi Miquel have moved on and I stated earlier, Brighton has had their fair share of departures.
How are they faring at the moment? Not so well, I’m afraid.
After ex-Liverpool great, Sami Hyypia, was sacked by Bayer Leverkusen, he was hired by Brighton but the results in his first six months with the club were very poor with just one win in Hyypia’s last 18 games with the club. After managing the side for 26 games and recording six wins (three were Cup matches), Hyypia tendered his resignation and was replaced by former Newcastle and Norwich boss, Chris Hughton.
Brighton are currently 21st in the Sky Bet Championship, level on points with second from bottom Millwall but can only boast of a better goal difference (-6 compared to Millwall’s -26) and are just three points ahead of bottom placed Wigan Athletic. The club was ousted from the League Cup by Arsenal’s fierce rivals, Tottenham. Goals from Erik Lamela and the red-hot Harry Kane settled the contest in White Hart Line. Brighton advanced to the fourth round of the FA Cup after defeating Brentford with top scorer, Lewis Dunk, getting in among the goals. Chris O’Grady scored the goal that put the game beyond doubt.
The Gunners would be licking their lips in the prospect of another stroll in the pack but they would know clearly that teams in England can punish you given half a chance. Here are the other FA Cup 4th Round fixtures.
Southampton or Ipswich Town vs Crystal Palace
Cambridge United vs Manchester United
Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City
Chelsea vs Millwall or Bradford
Derby County vs Scunthorpe United or Chesterfield
Preston North End vs Sheffield United
Birmingham City vs West Bromwich Albion
Aston Villa vs AFC Bournemouth
Cardiff City vs Reading
AFC Wimbledon or Liverpool vs Bolton Wanderers
Burnley or Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City
Rochdale vs Stoke City
Sunderland vs Fulham or Wolverhampton Wanderers
Doncaster Rovers or Bristol City vs Everton or West Ham United
Manchester City vs Middlesbrough
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