Arsenal travel to the AMEX Stadium for a 4th round tie away to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday afternoon. The Gunners got to round 4 by beating Swansea 1-0 in a replay having drawn the original tie 2-2. Brighton beat Newcastle 2-0 to book their place in the 4th round. This shows they are capable of beating Premier League opposition.
Brighton defender Bruno will have to pass a fitness test if he is to feature, having been out with an Achilles injury. Vicente made his return from injury in Brighton’s last game so could keep his place in the team tomorrow, whilst Argentinian striker Leonardo Ulloa could make his debut following his recent move from Spanish club Almeria.
The Gunners will be missing both their captain and vice-captain for the trip to Brighton. Thomas Vermaelen went off in midweek against West Ham with an ankle injury and Arsene Wenger will not gamble on his fitness. The injury is expected to be short-term though. Mikel Arteta remains sidelined with a calf strain, whilst Francis Coquelin is still out after picking up a hamstring injury against Chelsea last weekend. Lukasz Fabianski has returned to full training for the first time since pre-season after a lengthy injury. He isn’t available tomorrow however. Arsenal’s midfield has been boosted by the return of both Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky though, who are in the squad for tomorrow’s game.
Interestingly, these two sides last met at this stage of the FA Cup back in January 1988. The Gunners ran out 2-1 winners that day, I will be very happy with a 2-1 win tomorrow. All I want is Arsenal through to the next round as I would love to see us win the FA Cup again. I think it is fairly unlikely, but I would love to see it!.
Brighton are not a bad team and if Arsenal go there expecting to win comfortably, they will lose. They need to show they have recovered from that Bradford defeat in the League Cup back in December. Arsenal played a strong side and felt all they had to do was show up to win that day. They were wrong and punished as they lost on penalties to the League Two side. A defeat at Brighton wouldn’t be as embarrassing as Bradford was, but it certainly wouldn’t please the fans at all and would realistically end any chance that Arsenal have of lifting silverware this season.
I expect a full strength side to be fielded, as Wenger has made it clear the Gunners are going for the FA Cup this year, something perhaps that hasn’t been the case in many of the years since they last won it in 2005.
It’s a huge game in Arsenal’s season and it will be a good test for them too. Let’s hope they can pass the test.