It’s been an eventful day in FA cup action. Non-leaguers Luton Town defeated top flight Norwich, the first time that’s happened since 1989 — also the first time it’s happened beyond the third round since 1949. John Heitinga’s goal at the death ensured Everton would not have to partake in a reply with Bolton. MK Dons throttled QPR at Loftus Road, sending a squad with seven internationals crashing out of the cup. The game I watched in full, well almost in full (feed issues), took place at Amex Stadium.
Fresh off a dominant 5-1 win over West Ham, thanks to 10 minutes of ‘genius’ according to Sam Allardyce, Arsenal looked poised to continue their strong play. Brighton had drawn twice in their prior two league games, but signaled their intentions of being a tough out with an impressive victory over Newcastle in the 3rd round.
In an attempt to try something different, here are my positives and negatives from the match — for both sides. Keyword being my. If the Andre Santos hate gets to extreme I apologize.
- Leonardo Ulloa’s first start for The Seagulls was a memorable one. The Argentine striker leveled the game at two in the 62nd minute with an excellent header. Ashely Barnes, scorer of Brighton’s first goal, was the provider.
- Gus Poyet’s assistant came back from the Emirates with troubling news. If Arsenal replicated their performance against West Ham on Saturday Albion would be finished. Brighton’s problems this season have arose when they sit back. From the onset Poyet’s directions were clear: press, press, press. It worked, thanks in part to Arsenal’s acquiescence.
- Olivier Giroud continued his torrid play, bagging two more goals. The first came off a wonderful one-two with Lukas Podolski in the 16th minute. The second was even better. A Song-like ball from Abou Diaby was welcomed by Giroud with an excellent touch, the finish equally sublime. 13 goals and 9 assists all told — not bad.
- I’ll get to my issues with Arsene later, but the three substitutions he made in the second half were well timed and desperately needed. Wilshere, Gibbs and Walcott added stability to a team that was all over the place for large stretches of the match. Walcott’s deflected strike–Sweden!–in the 85th minute was the difference.
- Both supporter groups were loud and inventive with their chants. Brighton’s in particular cut deep.
- Arsenal’s zonal marking scheme is an embarrassment. My qualms are not with the scheme itself, but rather, Wenger and Bould’s decision to use it in the first place. Arsenal’s defenders do not have the mental ability to play it. It’s the same story over and over again. More troublesome is the stubbornness of the coaching staff.
- Andre Santos needs to be left in the southeast. Brighton destroyed him all game, creating their two goals from the left wing. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me several times and I’m an idiot. I’d like to think Wenger is not an idiot — he’s not — but come on. Kieran Gibbs needed rest before next week’s huge game against Liverpool, but the fact that the Gunners don’t have an adequate second team LB is ridiculous.
- Casper Ankergren and Adam El-Abd will do well to forget this one.
- The fact that Wilshere, Gibbs and Walcott had to come on to save this game from disaster tells it all. The Gunners have zero depth.
As stated before, Arsenal welcome Liverpool to the Emirates on Wednesday in a game with major table implications. Brighton, currently sitting seventh in the Championship, travel to Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday.