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4 Key Talking Points From Arsenal’s 3-2 Win Over Brighton

Arsenal booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. Here, Gunner333 gives us 4 talking points

Arsenal booked their place in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a 3-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. Here, Gunner333 gives us 4 talking points from the game….

Amid a weekend of giant-killings in the FA cup, Arsenal would have been cautious heading into their clash at Championship side Brighton. News of centre-back Gabriel’s inevitable arrival would be music to the ears of Arsenal fans, mainly because it meant fewer starts for Monreal in the heart of defence, the Spaniard once again starting, this time alongside Koscielny, through the centre.

The hosts came off the back of a surprise win over promotion-vying Ipswich Town but they were on the back foot early in this game, going one down with less than two minutes on the clock. Calum Chambers burst down the flank to cross for Walcott, whose touch allowed time to drill a shot hard and low past David Stockdale. Brighton’s defence sliced-open at ease, with very little time played.

No lessons learnt by Chris Hughton’s men as the game progressed. Arsenal capitalising on an overwhelming share of possession to double their lead, once again courtesy of some poor Seagulls’ defending. This time Rosicky pulling the strings to split the back-line and find Ozil. A neat finish from the German made it 2-0 at half time.

In the opening stages of the second period Walcott had the chance to practically end it but fluffed his lines and the wasted opportunity could not have seemed more costly, as Brighton snapped up a chance at the other end to mount pressure on Wenger’s side. Baldock setting up O’Grady with a knock-down, who fired past Szczesny from the edge of the area. However, moments later, the Gunners restored their two-goal cushion. The stand-out player of the afternoon was Rosicky and he unleashed a volley to marvel at and put Arsenal back in control.

Out of nowhere however, Brighton pulled another one back to make it 2-3 with Baldock chipping over the on-rushing Szczesny calmly to hand the hosts one final lifeline. Despite a late blue & white charge, Arsenal held on to secure a place in the fifth round.

A solid, valiant performance from the lads in all and here I shall now dissect the performance, highlighting 4 key talking points:

1) Missing Merts

Every Arsenal fan or just football spectator in general may believe they hold the solution to the ongoing defensive dilemma at the club but, regardless of what Mr. Wenger may feel new signing Gabriel will rectify, it is too complex an ordeal to have one single fault. Per Mertesacker’s lack of pace has more often than not been the prime department to blame, but in-fact it was the German who was missed most in this game.

The two centre-backs Koscielny and Monreal are far too similar in style to match-up as a defensive pairing. Both quick, diverse and eager to slide in late-on, having the two play together was an accident waiting to happen. Yes, they are both talented in their particular fields but in order to shut out a relatively tame Brighton attack in this game, we required solidarity and strength, much of which is shown week-in, week-out by Mertesacker.

Coming off the back of three clean sheets to concede twice to a side of, no disrespect, lesser quality than what we are used to, it was a disappointing one to see the team surrender at the back and as saddening as it is to say, it is simply down to some tactical disillusions from Wenger not to play the German. Ultimately though, our quality up-top outweighed this tactical blunder and so it  can be overlooked for now.

2) Boys Maturing

The FA Cup, say what you will, is an altogether completely different kettle-of-fish to the Premier League. Playing more often than not against clubs lower down the league ladder, different traits such as mental and physical adaptations are required. In this game it was essential to battle hard and long to the end, with the knowledge Brighton were never going to give up and would fight until the final whistle in order to salvage something from the encounter. This meant increased concentration and more caution from the Gunners was required and ultimately meant the side did not bomb men forward at will, when guarding a lead.

Fortunately, as exhibited by the win over City, Arsenal are a changing club and are slowly developing a sound balance between attack and defence, which they maintained to sit back at the end on Sunday and, as a reward, book their place in the next round.

3) Same Old Weak-Point

As a whole, the team were brilliant pushing forward and kept possession well in an intense atmosphere, but the same stumbling block once again presented itself in the little French package of Matthieu Flamini. Not to seem like I am picking on the midfielder, but Flamini’s time looks more than likely to be up as his slow legs and lackadaisical approach barely warrant regular football in a Championship side, never mind in a Premier League team gunning for the Champions League.

Former player of AC Milan, Flamini slowed down the majority of Arsenal counters with weak mobility and movement, with a lot of shouting once again the pinnacle of his game. Even in defence he was erratic and slow to close the Brighton players down and his French counter-part Coquelin is proving to be a much more viable option in the hub of midfield.  A wonderful server for the club in his two spells, I will always be a  Flamini fan but ultimately feel this slow and sluggish style has got to go.

4) Lightning Start

Wenger confirmed himself that the quick, lively start to the game was the reason for the impressive result, as the team managed to suck dry any Brighton enthusiasm with a goal in the second minute. The myriad of shock cup exits alerted Arsenal to start brightly and ensure concentration and confidence was sky-high. After going one-up, the side drained Brigthon by keeping a hold of the ball, as there was no need to rush into an attack and the focus could instead lay with protecting the lead.

Hitting the ground running is always important and it was the first half which won the Gunners the game, Walcott’s opener showcasing the lads’ intentions and ensuring that the team would not have to tire by chasing the game late on.

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