Arsenal make their first visit to Brighton since 1988 as they seek progress to the F.A. Cup 5th Round. The tournament seems to be Arsenal’s most realistic chance of silverware.
But Brighton will be significant opposition. They comfortably disposed of Premier Legaue Newcastle in the last round and will be buoyed by a 93rd minute equaliser to earn them a point at Ewood Park on Tuesday night.
Arsene Wenger refuses to countenance Brighton’s Championship status as he prepares his team to face Gus Poyet’s side.
‘They play out from the back, have a lot of possession and a big South American influence with their manager, the players they have, and the way they play. You know you will face a typical away game in the Premier League.’
Meanwhile, Seagulls manager Gus Poyet knows Brighton must be smart against their Premier League opponents.
”[It’s about] how we defend when we don’t have the ball, the energy we spend at the beginning of the game and how we manage to deal with a top class team,’ Poyet added.
‘We must not go and give everything from the first minute. Otherwise after 20 minutes everybody is dead and we cannot do anything else.’
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Right back Bruno will have a late fitness test on an achilles injury that has sidelined him for the last five games. Whilst Vicente came through Tuesday night’s game at Ewood Park with no reaction after a month out with a thigh injury.
Casper Ankegren is expected to play in goal in place of Thomas Kuszczak as is Poyet’s policy in the cups. Leandro Ulloa is in line for his debut following his January move from Almera.
Brighton & Hove Albion (from): Ankegren, Kuszczak; Bruno, Greer, Dunk, El Abd, Calderon, Vincelot, Painter, Bridge; Buckley, Hammond, Crofts, Orlandi, Vicente, Dicker, Lopez, Lualua, Barnes, Dobbie, Mackail-Smith, Ulloa.
Player to watch: David Lopez
The Spanish midfielder is one of the Seagulls’ most creative players. He’s also something of a penalty specialist.
Lopez links Brighton’s midfield and defence and if the Gulls are to hurt Arsenal, you’ve the feeling Lopez will need to be on top of his game.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal are without captain Thomas Vermaelen (ankle), but welcome back Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky compared to Wednesday’s squad against West Ham.
Mikel Arteta (calf), Lukasz Fabianski (ankle), Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and Gervinho (international duty) are unavailable.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone, Sagna, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Squillaci, Gibbs, A.Santos, Diaby, Ramsey, Wilshere, Frimpong, S.Cazorla, Chamberlain, Rosicky, Arshavin, Podolski, Walcott, Giroud.
Player to watch: Olivier Giroud
Giroud seems to veer wildly between being clinical (two goals in three shots against West Ham) to being wasteful (0 goals from his 20 shots prior to West Ham).
Both he and Walcott need to start being more decisive in tighter games, because this one will be tight.
Match Facts & Stats
The two sides meet for the first time since January 1988. Kevin Richardson and Perry Groves found the target at the Goldstone in a 2-1 win for Arsenal.
The clubs have met 13 times before, with Arsenal winning nine, drawing twice and losing twice.
This is Arsenal’s first ever visit to the AMEX Stadium.
Mark Flatts, Valur Gislason, Graham Barrett Joe O`Cearuill, Gavin Hoyte, Steve Sidwell, Paul Dickov and Liam Brady have represented both clubs.
Michael Oliver officiates the match.
I think Arsenal will squeeze through 2-1. I fancy Mackail-Smith to put Brighton ahead, but goals from Giroud and Chamberlain to see us through to Round 5.
Arsenal play at home to Liverpool on Wednesday evening. Brighton are away at Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday.