The side looked different from the previous game
6 changes were made to the side that beat West Ham on Wednesday. The win made the decision to change the team around, more vindicated. Players who have played continuous games were afforded a complete rest and in some case, 70 minutes less than what they normally have to go through. Especially with the visit of Liverpool coming up in midweek, this was an unavoidable change.
It made the team disorganised
On the other hand, by changing half the line-up, it also disrupts the fluency of the team. Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby and Aaron Ramsey must not have played many games together and it showed. In the opening period of the first half, there was a clear lack of coherence in our team as Brighton wrested control of the game. The only hope at that time was that we don’t concede before our midfielders finally click into game.
That happened but only after Wojciech saved us
Szczesny produced a wonderful point blank stop to deny Brighton the opening goal after they had beaten the offside trap. We immediately went on the counter from their resulting corner kick, and scored a wonderful goal. Olivier Giroud curling one in from the edge of the box that gave Casper Ankergren no chance. What was interesting was the way we broke for that counter. Used to be our main artillery but these days, we’ve not managed to make the defence to attack transition as smooth as we used to.
In total control but somehow manage to shoot ourselves in the foot
At this point, we were in control of the game but somehow still managed to allow the home side to equalise. Szcsesny’s positioning and decision has to be questioned on Ashley Barnes’ goal just as much as why our defenders allowed Barnes to go through unchallenged. The exact same carelessness happened for their 2nd equaliser. This time Per Mertesacker made the rudimentary error of allowing Leonardo Ulloa to get ahead of him before the cross was delivered. Both, very much avoidable goals and needless to say, we’ve still got plenty to work, in the training ground.
But, we showed resilience to take the lead each time
Our heads could have dropped after their equaliser and not least because they managed to do it twice. Glad that didn’t have a severe impact on the confidence of the players. They kept plugging away and we can only take heart in that. First, Giroud latched on to Diaby’s pass, one touch to bring it under control and the next to slam it past Ankergren. An execution we’ve come to expect from our previous number 10. There was some element of luck in our winning goal scored by Theo Walcott but we’ll take it all the same.
Held on, almost by the skin of our teeth
Credit to Gus Poyet’s side. They never stopped running and not once did they betray their footballing ethos. They didn’t resort to foul means nor long ball tactics. Their ability on the ball and desire to keep it on the ball is most admirable. They also caused us some problems at the end but we managed to hold on. Could have been different had Michael Oliver deemed Carl Jenkinson’s challenge on Craig Mackail-Smith worthy of a penalty kick.
One will have to look back on their performance with worry
Would be remiss of my to completely ignore the performance of Andre Santos. Calling him our worst ever player is way too harsh but at the moment it is certainly not working for him. Average at the start of the game with a few good tackles but faded as the match went on. No doubt, plenty will be pointing to his poor fitness level for the reason. It just seems a liability whenever we field him now and stern decision must be make about him.
Into the draw we go
It wasn’t our best performance this season, there’s no doubt there. It would be amazing had it been, because of the numerous changes Arsene Wenger made to the side. However, the fact that the 2nd-choice players were able to produced enough to take us through to the 5th Round, is worthy of praise. They will no doubt be involved in the rest of the season and knowing that they are capable of coming in and doing a job when required, makes us a much stronger team.