Arsenal did just enough to squeak by Brighton and Hove Albion 3-2 on Saturday Jan. 26 on the south coast and advance to the fifth round of the FA Cup. However, they had to bring the big guns off the bench to do it as Theo Walcott shot home the winner in the 85th minute after coming on as a sub with Jack Wilshire in the 68th minute. Arsenal led three times in the game with Olivier Giroud scoring the other two goals on fine efforts.
It wasn’t one of the Gunners best games of the season, but they never seemed to be in trouble either. The late winner saves the need for a replay in the congested fixture list. It was a decent spectacle for the fans and many Brighton supporters might consider their Championship side to be unlucky. Giroud, who’s been on fire lately with four goals in his past two games, put Arsenal in front after 16 minutes with a shot in the low corner after a pass from Lukas Podolski. Brighton came back in the 33rdminute though as Ashley Barnes scored with a header off of a corner. Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny and the defenders looked terrible on the goal and it was game on.
Giroud put the visitors back in the lead in the 56th minute with a superb close range shot after being set up in the 18-yard box by Abou Diaby. But it didn’t last long as Brighton drew level again just six minutes later on a wonderful diving header by forward Leonardo Ulloa of Argentina, who was making his debut for Brighton after being transferred from Almeria. Walcott made sure Arsenal would make it to the quarterfinals though after his shot deflected off of Brighton’s El-Abd and into the net past stunned goalkeeper Casper Ankergren with just four minutes left on the clock.
Arsenal’s defending was again suspect throughout the game and if it wasn’t for a couple of close offside calls for Brighton they could have found themselves in a spot of bother. They did enough to win the match though and deservedly so. The draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup takes place on Jan. 27 and the Gunners also have a huge league game against Liverpool coming up.
Arsenal Player Ratings vs Brighton Jan. 26
Wojciech Szczesny 6
Made a fine save early in the game to keep it at 0-0, but looked lost on Brighton’s first goal from a corner.
Carl Jenkinson 6.5
Jenkinson showed a lot of ambition and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. However, the entire back four were brutal on Brighton’s first goal.
Per Mertesacker 5.5
He didn’t have a very good game in all reality. He looked poor on both goals as he was on the wrong side of Ulloa when he headed in Brighton’s second.
Laurent Koscielny 6
Played a steady game and nothing more and nothing less.
Andre Santos 5
The Brazilian defender looked weak in both ends of the pitch. Was often caught out of position and his shooting was pathetic. He was taken off for Kieran Gibbs after 78 minutes, but should have been taken off sooner.
Abou Diaby 6.5
It was Diaby’s best game since coming back a couple of weeks ago from his injury. Set up Giroud for his second goal and looked like the Diaby of all…at least he’s getting there.
Aaron Ramsey 6
A solid game from the young Welshman. He should improve with experience and could be a lot better than many people think.
Tomas Rosicky 6
One of his rare starts. He’s a class player and it’s a pity he’s often injured. He tired out as the game went on and was replaced in the 68th minute.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 5.5
He wasn’t really noticeable during the game, which for him is a bad thing. Was taken off in the 68th minute.
Lukas Podolski 6.5
Was a bit of a comedown after his superb performance against West Ham on Wednesday in which he scored once and set up three more goals. Slammed a free kick off the crossbar in the second half.
Olivier Giroud 8
Scored two lovely goals and could have had one or two more with any luck. When he’s hot he’s hot and when he’s not he’s not. Fortunately for the Gunners he’s been hot lately.
Theo Walcott 7.5
Came on for in the 68th minute and scored the winner. Also showed his tremendous speed on an effort when he beat two defenders and almost added a second. Has 17 goals in all competition this season .
Jack Wilshere 6.5
A decent effort as usual after coming on the 68th minute.
Kieran Gibbs 6.5
Came on for Andre Santos in the 78th minute and thank goodness as Santos was struggling. Added some pace and skill on the left side.