Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Glimmer of Hope for Silver Remains

Brighton 2-3 Arsenal

Unsurprisingly unconvincing, but job done.

The reward: a home tie in the 5th round against Blackburn.

Liverpool went out to Oldham. Spurs went out to Leeds. Chelsea were taken to a replay by Brighton.

It looks like four of the eight quarter-finalists will be Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea.

So let's not get too excited just yet.

But the FA Cup looks ever more important as chances of January reinforcements continue to recede.

Can Arsenal really expect a top four finish with this bunch of players??

One positive from Brighton, other than the victory itself, was the continued good form of Giroud. Two good, different goals.

The first came when Rosicky zoomed forward on the right, and passed inside to Podolski. The German looked to be running into trouble, turned and laid the ball off to Giroud. The Frenchman took a touch and curled a confident shot into the top corner from just outside the box.

Second half, with the score at 1-1, Giroud took down Diaby's pass over the top, held off a challenge and lunged to blast a shot high past the oncoming keeper.

Again, Arsenal succumbed to a headed goal to make the score 2-2. There have been plenty of occasions this season when I've wondered if Vermaelen would still be in the team if not for his status as club captain. But if this game was to be seen as an audition for Koscielny and Mertesacker, they flunked it. Arsenal's defensive woes just drag on and on.

This time, the story had a happy, if fortuitous ending. When a set piece was weakly punched clear, substitute Walcott was lurking on the edge of the area. He produced a tentative side-footed volley that looped nastily off a defender and into the net.

Job done, but it's safe to say Arsenal won't win the FA Cup by fielding a half-reserve side every round.

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