Brighton Preview and the Magic of the FA Cup
The FA Cup may not be as glittering in terms of its rewards like the Champions League or Premier League but what it offers is that unpredictable knockout football. Hey, it was the competition that ended the Gunners trophy drought so you can say that Arsenal fans have a thing or two for it. Let’s not forget that it’s also the competition Arsene Wenger has won the most (five times) in his 18-year stint with the club and I’m sure he loves ’em cup runs.
Imagine being Wenger in last season’s FA Cup final conceding two goals in eight minutes. I’m sure he felt in his heart that if he lost that competition, he would have chosen not to renew his deal because if the lads were not motivated enough to win a Hull side they beat a couple of weeks in the run to the final, then there’s no point hanging around. Well, the boys turned up the style and that would go down as one of the best Cup finals I’ve ever witnessed as a fan.
So last season’s adventure was over and it was now about the Gunners defending their crown. Sadly for Hull, they were faced in front of the firing line again and it took goals from Per Mertesacker (his only goal this season) and Alexis Sanchez (I’ve lost count of how many goals he’s scored) to take the Gunners to the fourth round.
The Fourth Round took center stage yesterday with some results that would go down well with the Emirates faithful. It started with a shock win for Birmingham City over Swansea but the Swans have been utter shite recently so the result wasn’t really all that ‘shocking’ per se. Then there was the Manchester United vs. Cambridge that ended up as a bore draw. LVG’s side was shambolic as you’d expect but since Cambridge couldn’t nick in a goal at home, you’d expect them to have their work cut out for them at Old Trafford. Then there was the Chelsea vs. Bradford game where a bullish Mourinho stated that it would be a disgrace to lose to Bradford. Little did he know that Bradford would make history by being the first team to beat Mourinho by four goals in his home stadium. Manchester City still had the Arsenal hangover against Middlesbro’ugh and there were goals for Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo as the Alan Pardew army marched on past Southampton. The day was wrapped up with a stalemate between Liverpool and Bolton.
Today the Gunners come up against a Brighton side they faced off two seasons ago. It wasn’t a stroll in the park as many expected and I can vividly remember that Andre Santos had a torrid time. Two goals from Olivier Giroud and a late Theo Walcott goal settled the contest.
To team news, Wojciech Szczesny could be in line to make a return to first team football action and it would be interesting to see how he handles it. In defense, Kieran Gibbs is working his way back to full fitness and I expect him to get a run out with Hector Bellerin continuing his good run of form on the right. Laurent Koscielny would get some deserved rest with Calum Chambers and Per Mertesacker in the heart of the defense.
In midfield, Mathieu Flamini has been displaced from the first team by Francis Coquelin, so I have a hunch that he’d be odds on to play today. Aaron Ramsey is still in need of games so he’d play alongside the ageless Czech, Tomas Rosicky, in the middle. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud will complete the front three.
Here’s to a great game of football