Brighton & Hove Albion 2 Arsenal 3
By Tim Hodges from The Amex
The Albion lost again to Arsenal in the 4th Round of The FA Cup and by the same score as in 2013.
The Amex was buzzing before and during the match, but with just two minutes played Arsenal’s Callum Chambers got free of Joe Bennett and a Sam Baldock who was covering as a defender, Chambers crossed into Theo Walcott who smashed the ball past a shell shocked David Stockdale.
Albion were stunned , and found it difficult to get the ball out of their own half.
The Gunners pressed high up the pitch and didn’t allow Albion to knock the ball around at the back as they like to do.
Albion were stifled and not able to build an attack . When they did inevitably it would break down as players including Jake Forster-Caskey and Danny Holla tried to over complicate things
Albion had a few half chances, Baldock with a header from distance and Forster – Caskey had a shot from distance that was always rising.
With 25 minutes played Tomas Rosicky fed a great pass through to Mesut Ozil and the German international slotted the ball home to double Arsenal’s lead.
Albion were becoming a little more adventurous with Bruno running at Laurent Koscielny, but Aaron Ramsey and Rosicky were the dominant force in midfield.
One break saw the Gunners send six or seven players forward running in all directions and at speed . However this break was snuffed out by Inigo Calderon.
The start of the second half saw Giroud with a good chance. The early exchanges saw much the same pattern as the first half .
But five minutes after the interval, a cross from Bennett was hoofed into the air Nacho Monreal , Baldock headed into the path of O’Grady who turned and smashed the ball past Wojciech Szczesney to put Albion back in the tie.
For a while Albion looked dangerous , then a poor clearance by Claderon and hesitation from Lewis Dunk saw Giroud thread the ball through to Rosicky who smashed a half volley past Stockdale.
At 3-1 down Albion looked a little crest fallen.
Calderon got clear in the box but was quickly closed down by Monreal and Koscielny, Calde went ground but all to easily in the opinion of referee Micheal Oliver.
Just as Chris Hughton looked to be preparing to introduce Craig Mackail- Smith and Adrain Colunga , Sam Baldock got in behind the defence from a super Holla pass and clipped the ball over Szczesney to again put Albion back in the match .
This goal really inspired Albion. Ince and Holla started winning tackles all over the pitch. O’Grady was causing problems and Solly March just on as substitute also gave Arsenal’s defenders plenty to think about .
Adrain Colunga did get on in place of Forster – Caskey .
Soon after his introduction the Spaniard tried to whip in a cross, the ball hit Callum Chambers on the arm , but Mr Oliver waved away Albion’s penalty appeals the Amex was enraged .
Albion never really had another clear cut chance.
Alexis Sanchez on as a substitute floated a free kick , which Ince headed on to his own bar.
In the four minutes of injury time Ramsey had another chance to wrap it up for the Gunners but was wide.
Albion really took the game to Arsenal at times in the second half and will take at lot of confidence to Blackpool next week.
Five things we learnt from Albion’s FA Cup tie with Arsenal.
1) Albion have a new Anthem ‘Ring of Fire’ was sang as passionately as Sussex by The Sea but will never surely replace it.
2) It was Albion goalscorer Chris O’Grady’s 29th Birthday today.
3) Every man selling half and half scarfs outside Falmer Station, had a cockney accent. Not that many Seagulls fans took up the offer.
4) Referee Michael Oliver refereed the 4th Round match at the Amex against Arsenal on 26th January 2013 . Which Arsenal won 2-3
5) The Attendance of 30,278 was an Amex record and Albion’s biggest at home since 1978.