Daily Archives: January 26, 2015
Brighton 2 Arsenal 3
With the surprises on show on Saturday, Arsene Wenger was reminded that if you loose your guard in the FA Cup, you’d be duly punished. It was expected that some players in the team where going to get some deserved rest so it was paramount for the manager to rotate the squad effectively to keep everyone fresh.
Wojciech Szczesny replaced David Ospina in goal and there were starts for Calum Chambers and the fit-again Kieran Gibbs. I was thinking that Laurent Koscielny was going to get some rest but it was glaring that Per Mertesacker needed a breather too. With the imminent arrival of Gabriel Paulista, it was heartwarming to know that this position is well covered. In midfield, Mathieu Flamini returned ahead of the Coq with Aaron Ramsey and captain of the day, Tomas Rosicky, in the middle. Olivier Giroud was flanked by the returnees, Mesut Özil and Theo Walcott.
It was important to start the game well and Arsenal got to the best possible start when Chambers skipped past his marker before drilling a cross for Walcott. The Englishman has been rusty of late but we saw the Walcott of old as he controlled the ball immaculately before blasting it past Stokedale in goal. It took just 90 seconds for the Gunners to take the lead.
Özil got into his stride and threaded a pass to Ramsey. The Welsh Jesus let one rip but the shot was blocked by a Brighton defender. Arsenal extended their lead when Rosicky cushioned an inch-perfect pass to the path of Özil that controlled the ball with his first touch and sent the goalie the wrong way with the second.
That second goal brought an air of complacency into Arsenal’s game and they were almost punished when Koscielny lost possession in his area but Baldock hoofed his shot over the bar. At the start of the second half, Brighton received a glimmer of hope when the ball crept into O’ Grady’s path and the forward fired a shot that left Szczesny rooted to the spot. Arsenal restored their two goal cushion when Rosicky sent a blind pass to Giroud and when he received the Frenchman’s chipped effort, he blasted the ball under the goalie to make it three.
Walcott had a near post effort that was saved and there was even time for the manager to bring on Alexis Sanchez and Chuba Akpom for Giroud and Walcott. Brighton clawed another goal in when Baldock was clean through on goal and he executed a neat chipped effort over Szczesny. Wenger brought on Francis Coquelin to add some steel to the midfield and there were two late freekicks from Alexis that threatened the goalie.
In the end, the goals were more than enough to book a fifth round berth and it was also good to know that it was achieved with so many regular first team players getting a rest. Wenger rested seven players from the Etihad game and the players that were brought on had it in them to achieve what the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, Southampton and Manchester City failed to do.
Have a great week.