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A few thoughts on the Brighton FACup 4th Round Match

January 26, 2015

FA Cup 4th Round – long weekend. Who’d have thought what was about to happen?

Friday night Manchester United travelled to Cambridge United for their 4th round tie. Cambridge United gave a good account of themselves in what I thought was a poor match and got a deserved draw which takes the replay to Old Trafford and a nice pay-day for the League Division two side. Manchester United were poor.

Saturday saw four of the top six in the Premier League all in action at home and what an afternoon it was to turn out to be. Probably the best FACup Saturday afternoon 4th round ever. Chelsea were 2-0 up against Bradford only to lose 2-4. Manchester City went down 0-2 to Middlesbrough. Southampton lost 2-3 at home to Crystal Palace with all three Palace goals coming from an ex-Arsenal player and a on-loan Arsenal player. However, the Pièce de résistance was happening down the Seven Sisters Road where that famous FACup side (last won in 1991) Tottenham were 1-0 up against Leicester with seven minutes to go and lost 1-2. The second Leicester goal came after a fine attempted save from Vorm 🙂 Later Saturday evening Liverpool could only draw at home to Bolton and the Premiership teams were not doing well in this years FACup.

Bearing these results in mind on Sunday Arsenal travelled to Championship side Brighton for their tie. Arsenal lined up as follows:

Szczesny, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal , Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Walcott, (Sanchez ), Ozil, (Coquelin), Rosicky, Giroud,(Akpom 69, 6). Szczesny back for OoooooSpina, Gibbs back at Left back, Flamini in for Coquelin, Ozil in for Cazorla, Rosicky in and Giroud up top and no Sanchez.

Arsenal got off to a flyer when Chambers flew down the wing, beat his man with ease, crossed for Walcott who with one deft touch to control the ball, turned and slammed the ball into the net. 0-1 Arsenal!!

Gibbs/RamseyRosicky who as always ran at defenders slid a cracking ball through to Ozil who controlled the ball, turned and tucked his shot into the corner of the net. 0-2 Arsenal!! The first half was controlled by Arsenal though apart from the two goals did not threaten the Brighton keeper. The half ended with Arsenal having two shots on target for two goals.

Arsenal started the second half well and had half chances for Giroud and Walcott. Brighton then broke and a cross into the area saw two Arsenal players going for the same ball, then Rosicky’s clearance went up into the air and when it dropped Baldock beat Chambers to the ball easy which fell nicely for O’Grady who caught Szczesny flat-footed with shot to reduce the arrears for Brighton to 1-2. Sloppy from Arsenal who were playing as if the job had been done and let Brighton back into a game they should have been dead and buried in.

Arsenal went about regaining their composure well and took charge of the game again. A move down the left saw Rosicky to Ramsey to Giroud whose flick was miskicked by Dunk and Rosicky always lively and aware nipped in, did a no-look pass to Giroud who in turn chipped the ball nicely into Rosicky’s path for the Arsenal captain for the day to smash the ball home from twenty yards 1-3 Arsenal!!

Later on MOTD2 Phil Neville was questioning Rosicky for making the no-look pass as taking the piss and if he did that to Neville in training he would have smashed Rosicky. Sadly part of the Neanderthal aspect of English football and part of the reason England very rarely produces top quality footballers. What an idiotic statement to make on a programme such as MOTD. I still don’t understand why TV companies feel they need so many of these so-called experts on their football shows.

Arsenal continued to control the game and on seventy minutes took off Walcott/Giroud and replaced them with Sanchez and the young lad Akpom. Sanchez as always was lively and the young Akpom was also showing some good touches and a willingness to attack defenders. However, on seventy-five Brighton played some good one/two touch football and cut right through the centre of Arsenal’s midfield and defence for Buldock to chip the ball over the advancing Szczesny to make it 2-3 Arsenal.

Arsenal should have finished the game in the last fifteen minutes as Sanchez hit the bar and also had Stockdale pulling off a fine save from two free kicks. A super give and go then run by Rosicky saw his pin point cross somehow put over the bar by Ramsey when it looked easier to score.  Much of the last fifteen minutes for me was officiated by referee Oliver with a sympathetic approach to the Championship side who spent most of that time simply playing Arsenal shall not pass. Sanchez was battered and though not all the tackles against him were fouls he deserved a bit more protection than he was getting. The same could be said for Akpom when he was also running at the Brighton defence and was blatantly taken out on almost every occasion he touched the ball.

There were a couple of shouts for penalties from handballs from both Arsenal and Brighton, but maybe would have been harsh and with hindsight fairly cancelled each out.

Arsenal didn’t survive against Brighton and for me a fair reflection of the score should’ve been more 2-5 than 2-3. I thought it was tougher the last time Arsenal played at the Amex two seasons ago with the same score.

Looking back with the changes to the team I thought Arsenal played well and with the previous days shocks did what they had to do to go through to round five. I could not see what the fuss was about Szczesny with the goals, hardly his fault, one flat-footed by O’Grady’s shot on turn and the other left wide open and one-on-one with Buldock and both players took their goals well.  I would agree on Szczesny’s issue of distribution as one throw-out later in the game was crazy and put the defence under unnecessary pressure when he should have simply held onto the ball and slowed things down.

Gibbs and Chambers did well, yet Chambers does have lapses, I suppose only to be expected at young age. Koscielny and Monreal also did alright though playing on the right, Koscielny did look suspect a couple of times, once losing the ball trying to bring it out giving Brighton an opportunity that was not far wide.

Flamini, Ozil, Ramsey all had reasonable games and Ozil did score. Rosicky (MOTM) had as good a game as Cazorla did against Manchester City, he was everywhere and loves to attack defences and go forward. Assisted goal for Ozil and scored as well. Like Arsenal said, “if you like football, you’ll like Rosicky” Been a good servant for the club, though sadly injured for large part of it, which is a shame for football as well as Arsenal.

Walcott looked another 10% fitter and stronger, took his goal well and did a few good runs. Some of those runs, Theo ended up running into trouble and making the wrong choice of pass. Walcott also should have done better with a half chance early in the second half. Giroud did alright, yet his hold up play was almost non-existent as his main play against Brighton was simply flick, flick, flick rather than holding the ball up, but that might have been the plan with the players around him. I have to give him credit though for his ball back to Rosicky for the third goal, it was right on the money and  made up Rosicky’s mind for him what he needed to do.

Took my Son to the game in Brighton and it was excellent day out. Brighton have a very good stadium and nice comfy seats like the Emirates, not that you use them 🙂 Last time we went for the 2-3 two years ago, there were no food outlets outside the stadium, but this has changed since and they looked alright. Luke managed to get a few photo’s of the players as they got off the team coach. It was funny seeing Ken Friar, Ivan Gazidis and Chips Keswick stuck in the crowd and unable to get to the entrance the teams go in though.

It’s also a great idea that tickets to the game also include local travel with them. So after we parked at the Bridge car park £15 per car we walked to Falmer station and got  train into Brighton for lunch and then back for the football.

Got home about 8.45pm and totally knackered and ill all night from it.

Cheers

@harlowgooner

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