Jan 27th, 2013 by 'holic
What a day that was. As expected, a proper old Cup day and eventually a result to enjoy. Brighton, thank you for a cracking day out. I owe Tone, once of the West Stand Highbury, and now of the West Stand at the Grove, for rescuing me from the rail journey from hell. From the moment the tardis deposited us in Sussex, to the moment it whisked us back to Paddington, we enjoyed a day to remember, with the odd exception.
It could not have been a closer game. As expected Brighton competed for everything and showed they can play a bit too. We were defensively a little shaky, particularly on the flanks where we had two starters without much football under their belts of late. I hadn’t expected as many as six changes from Wednesday, but further forward we looked dangerous every time we went forward. The opening goal owed much to Tomas Rosicky’s desire to get us moving forward at pace, and much more to a confident finish from Olivier Giroud.
Brighton too were enjoying some success on the attack. Before the equaliser arrived they had already had one effort ruled out for offside. The goal itself was a result of a combination of errors. Once again the zonal marking failed as two Brighton players were allowed an unchallenged run on goal. Wojciech Szczesny also completely misread the flight of the ball and lost the advantage his arms should give him. Words were exchanged.
Behind him four thousand Gooners roared encouragement, and were now joined by the locals in generating the anticipated atmosphere. It was an atmosphere with an edge though, as some tried to instigate tasteless chants. A number of confrontations were being reported at half-time. The majority stayed firmly behind the side and were almost rewarded by Podolski’s superb free kick against the crossbar. A minute later we were ahead again. Abou Diaby’s chip ahead was inch perfect and Giroud’s control and finish the mark of a player very much on the ascent.
At the other end of the scale, unfortunately, is Andre Santos. We were ahead for just five minutes before he allowed Barnes all the time in the world to cross for Ulloa to level. It was too much for some in the crowd who didn’t hide their displeasure when the Brazilian was finally replaced by Kieran Gibbs. By that time we had also summoned Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott from the bench. The latter would decide the tie in our favour with a deflected effort from the edge of the box.
Cue the four thousand heading home in much better spirits all round. We returned to the quiet tavern that had provided an excellent pre-match lunch to savour a final pint or two of Dark Star ales before being transported back to the future by an excellent driver. Whilst the ‘holic pound again crashed spectacularly, Arsene’s gamble clearly paid off. Fresh legs will be available for the visit of Liverpool on Wednesday.
Good luck to Brighton in the months ahead. They have a stadium more interesting architecturally than many modern day constructions, they look to be a well run club, and they like to knock the ball around on the deck. I definitely wouldn’t mind going back there in the Premiership next season if they can get to and through the play-offs. I wouldn’t bet against them, not that it will comfort them to hear that!
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