Welcome to my Arsenal blog for the 2015/16 season; here you can check out my thoughts on the current goings on at the club.
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Monday, 26 January 2015

Arsenal through on weekend of shocks

This weekend threw up what was perhaps one of the most exciting of FA Cup weekends in the competitions long history. Chelsea and Manchester City were both dumped out by lower league opposition whilst Liverpool and Man United face replays. However, Arsenal marched through in what turned out to be a tougher tie than had first thought. The Gunners returned to the scene of their victory over Brighton in 2013 in which they ran out 3-2 winners. The same result occurred this time around too. Goals from Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Tomas Rosicky sealed Arsenal’s passage to the fifth round despite two Brighton goals that kept things interesting. Arsene Wenger made seven changes from the win over City as Szczesny, Chambers and Gibbs came in with Ozil, Flamini, Walcott and Rosicky.
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Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil were back amongst the goals
It wasn’t the most convincing of Arsenal displays, but after a 2-0 win at the Etihad last weekend we were full of confidence. This was shown in how quick we took the lead. It was a blistering start and after what we’d seen on Saturday afternoon it was great to get off to such a brilliant start. Theo Walcott’s progression back into the first team has been a slow one since his injury but he hit the ground running against Brighton, scoring just moments into the game. Calum Chambers got down the right before delivering the ball into Theo who steadied himself before finding the far corner. Theo’s performance in the first half offered us a constant threat and it was great to see him in full flow once again. His last FA Cup goal had come against Brighton two years ago, and he almost came close to grabbing his second of the game later on but showed signs of rustiness with a poor touch.

Tomas Rosicky was the star of the show though, supplying the second and scoring what proved to be the winner with our third. We have an array of attacking midfielders, and at the moment they all seem to be playing their part. Santi Cazorla’s performance against Manchester City was sublime and he’ll need to continue that after both the Czech and Mesut Ozil showed promise against Brighton. Ozil’s return has been met with excitement and he took his goal very nicely. Rosicky’s though was a cracking finish. He played a no look pass into Giroud before the Frenchman played the ball back to him to volley beyond Stockdale in goal. Rosicky was at the heart of everything Arsenal did; his assist was exquisite and the finish for his goal clinical.

Olivier Giroud’s performance proved pivotal, linking up well with the players around him as usual and it was almost a complete performance but for a goal. In all fairness, he didn’t have any chances.

The defensive display wasn’t that convincing though as we rang the changes. Wojciech Szczesny returned in place of David Ospina which I thought was a bit of a weird change and despite Brighton offering very little they scored two goals that were easily avoidable. Chambers wasn’t strong enough for the first and Koscielny failed to get close enough to O’Grady who found the back of the net past a despondent Szczesny.

Szczesny was then arguably at fault for the hosts second goal, scored by Sam Baldock who made himself busy all afternoon. Nacho Monreal stepped up instead of keeping the line with Koscielny which allowed Baldock a run at goal. Szczesny then came haring out of his goal instead of letting Koscielny attempt to block the shot. Resultantly Baldock dinked the ball over the keeper to set up an interesting final fifteen minutes.

In order to aid Arsenal’s chances in the final few minutes Francis Coquelin came on to shore things up after another distinctly average display from Flamini. With him at the base of the midfield we seem to panic whenever we lose the ball and there appeared to be no sense of organisation.

Arsenal’s other subs also made themselves busy. Alexis Sanchez was brought on and hit the bar from a deflected free-kick. He tried to weave his magic throughout the final exchanges but when he came on the Brighton players proceeded to foul him as much as possible. Chuba Akpom though showed great signs of promise and had a chance to score himself. He was a little selfish but his ability to run at defenders caused danger. With Sanogo and Podolski out on loan, and with Campbell rumoured to be joining Villarreal on loan in an exchange for Paulista, Akpom's chance could come now.

The team's line-ups:

Brighton: Stockdale, Greer, Bruno(63), Dunk, Bennett, Holla, Calderon, Ince, O'Grady, Forster-Caskey(82), Baldock.
Subs: Walton, Hughes, Rea, Chicksen, March(63), Mackail-Smith, Colunga(82).

Arsenal: Szczesny, Chambers, Koscielny, Monreal, Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Rosicky, Walcott(69), Ozil(79), Giroud(69). 
Subs: Martinez, Mertesacker, Bellerin, Coquelin(79), Cazorla, Sanchez(69), Akpom(69). 

My man of the match: Tomas Rosicky.

Referee: Michael Oliver.
Attendance: 30,278. 

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