Today’s game is really that. What the FA Cup is all about. A visit to a team in the lower division which gives chance for a David vs Goliath battle. Upsets happen in domestic cup competition because of the nature of the particular game (though, does happen far more often in France). One off game where form doesn’t matter. One off game where the sum on an individual’s payslip doesn’t matter. We write off Brighton at our own peril and could very well come face to face with two cup exits to lower league sides.
In the same stadium, Brighton have managed to eliminate Newcastle to set up this clash with us. Admittedly, a Newcastle side that haven’t been jam-packed with French internationals, yet. But it was still an upset, all things considered. Knowing that Gus Poyet is their manager is as much as I know about them. Reading from the various available news stories about this game, it seems that Brighton likes to keep the ball on the ground and advocates passing, which will at least make us have one less thing to worry about.
Arsene Wenger will surely rotate his squad today after putting almost similar sides in the last 3 matches. That could see Abou Diaby coming back into the starting line-up, which is a feat in itself. He was a fitness doubt in the midweek game against West Ham and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had gone missing a little longer than just 3 days. Laurent Koscielny will come into the game in the absence of Thomas Vermaelen.
Other possible rotation should come from either one of the full backs. I’m reluctant to see both sides get changes as that could impact the team. We cannot underestimate Brighton just as much as we cannot persist with the same starting line-up as we don’t want to burn out our players. Perhaps the FA Cup has become a priority, however I doubt that is over a Champions League place. That pursuit convenes in midweek with the visit of Liverpool.
I really hope that we see a buoyant Arsenal side tonight. One that is fresh from the confidence building thrashing of West Ham in midweek. One that doesn’t go into the game thinking that half the battle is already won, by virtue of the shirt we’re wearing. If the players give as good as they got and replicate the effort they put out on Wednesday, I doubt Poyet will be looking forward to the 5th round draw on Sunday. Another round of complacency and Wenger will be staring at just 5 days to shift every single player out of the club.
On that note, I’d like to touch a little on Wenger’s comments about limiting the January transfer to a specific number per club. Frankly, that is just a ridiculous suggestion. Either we have or we don’t have a transfer window. You can’t have a window and put such limitation (well you can, but it’s a stupid idea). Perhaps he was referencing to Newcastle but they hardly spent fortunes to get those 4 players. A small price to pay comparative to today’s market rate. It feels like an out of touch comment.
It feels like just because he is reluctant to spend, others should follow him. That is not the way to level the playing field. In any case, there hasn’t been a major transfer done in this month yet. By that I mean anything in the region of 20M and above. If that is not levelling the playing field for us to participate and compete in, then something is very wrong. A bad result tonight would exacerbate the reaction to his comments. I’m hoping for the opposite of course.
Up The Arsenal.