By Walter Broeckx
As I am one of the lucky persons who could see the game live on my TV I want to start with my favourite moment of the game. It was a moment before a ball was kicked. It was a moment that showed images of the crowd before the game started. And the camera zoomed in to the Gooners out there at Brighton. And they showed the Arsenal fans signing before the game and in the middle of the picture there was an Arsenal fan who clearly was disabled as he was sitting in a wheel chair that had to be operated with his chin. But you could see him signing with all his heart together with the rest out there. It somehow touched me this image. And great to see that this Gooner could be in the ground out there. I hope he enjoyed himself today.
On to the football. One could say that in a cup game only one things matters: to qualify for the next round. And that is what we did. We didn’t play great football but we were the best team of the two. We had the better chances looked at the whole game.
We had the most possession 41- 59%. Most shots on goal 5-12. Most shots on target 3-6. Most corners 2-15. We even made the most fouls 9-10. Podolski hit the crossbar with a splendid free kick. But having said that it wasn’t a walk in the park. I think we should give credit to Brighton for not trying to kick us off the park. I think most of the fouls were rather regular fouls no real dangerous tackles flying in. Brighton tried to play the ball over the ground also most of the time. The carved out a few chances also. But at the end of the day the team with the better quality won the game. Also because our bench had a bit more quality I think.
If you haven’t seen the highlights yet you sure should try to see them. Because I think you could be impressed with some of the goals. And not that impressed with our defending when we conceded the goals. When seeing the goals from Brighton the word ‘sloppy defending’ might come in your mind. Nobody really attacking the ball, come on guys this can be better. Something to work on.
But let us move to our goals. And we start with another Podolski assist. Just after Szczesny had stopped Brighton with a great save and then set up a quick counter lead by Rosicky. Who played the ball to Podolski who thought about hammering it but as the ball was in front of his right foot didn’t take the shot on but laid the ball back and opened up some room for Giroud. Giroud curled the ball nicely in the top corner giving the keeper no chance. That really was a super finish. It reminded me of a goal against the spuds last season. Will not mention the name of the goal scorer.
The second goal was maybe even better. Diaby with the ball and Giroud with the excellent run . The ball from Diaby was up in the air when it reached Giroud who took it out of the air, controlled it and smashed it past the keeper. That were two goals of superb technical quality. I dare to say it that this second goal brought even more memories of a player that has left us last summer.
In fact if it would have been him who scored those two goals the media would now be using words as ‘world class’ and ‘superb finishing’ or ‘amazing quality’. Now the media will say that we miss the one that wanted away. And will not give credit to Giroud for his superb goals. And with a bit of luck he would have scored a few more cracking goals but the keeper and a defender standing in the way prevented him from scoring a hattrick.
One of those missed chances or better said saved just before the goal line by a defender led to the corner that brought us the winning goal. Wilshere who came in to replace Rosicky and who did a splendid job together with Gibbs when they entered the field gave the corner, the keeper could only punch it away to the line of the penalty area and Theo took a shot that would have gone in, in the middle of the goal but a Brighton defender touched it and it ended up in the corner of the goal.
We still had to survive one scary moment but we had more chances to score a 4th goal but the keeper prevented another Arsenal goal.
It was a difficult game, as it should be in the FA cup away against a lower league team that could be proud of themselves. And I have heard some people that I know how had tickets and who had nothing but kind words about the way Brighton welcomed us and also the local fans were very nice and friendly towards the Arsenal supporters I know.
So it was a good game of football with a good outcome for Arsenal. Rosicky had a first game under his belt since almost 2 months. Diaby had another game and played the full 90 minutes! We had our second choice left and right back out there to give them a game. Oxlade-Chamberlain started a game. We have given Cazorla a breather, that he could use. Sagna and Gibbs have had a rest although the latter came in for the final 10 minutes and was impressive from the first second till the last. Theo had a rest and when he came on also looked impressive and sharp and scoring another goal. I think this is great because some fans (?) had already predicted that when he would sign his new contract he wouldn’t bother anymore and would fade away. Well not yet I would say.
Not at our best, not with the best but good enough to go to the next round against a team that tried to make life as difficult as possible but not enough to push us out. Now let us hope for a good draw, hopefully at home. And if possible against a lower league team. Because in the week after the next FA cup games we get the visit of Bayern Munich on the next Tuesday. It would be nice if we could give a few more players a rest in that FA cup weekend.