Any concerns from Arsenal fans that the Gunners might add to the weekend of FA cup shocks with a potentially tricky away tie at Brighton will have increased when they saw the team sheet. Arsene Wenger made a number of changes, leaving Alexis, Cazorla, Coquelin and Mertesacker on the bench.
But those fears will not have lasted long, as Arsenal came out of the traps like a champion greyhound, dazzling the home side with our pace, passing and pressing off the ball. And it took us less than two minutes to get on the score sheet, with a great run down the right and cross from Chambers being controlled perfectly by Walcott before being arrowed past Stockdale.
The Gunners could have had the game wrapped up by halftime, with a number of great chances coming from both flanks as well as through the middle. But we had to settle for a two goal lead at the break, Rosicky finding acres of space outside the box and finding Ozil with a pinpoint revers pass. The German took his goal with coolness and skill and Arsenal were making it look easy.
But we did not relax and were always quick to make sure that Brighton did not get a way back into the game, although a mistake by Koscielny at the back when he dwelt too long on the ball did give them a chance to worry Szczesny but the shot was blazed over the bar.
The fears of another FA cup upset came flooding back after a bit of slack defending allowed Brighton to score a very good goal through O’Grady soon after the restart. For 10 minutes or so the home side gave their fans real hope but Arsenal were in no mood to let this one slip and a fantastic volley from Rosicky gave us our cushion back around the hour mark.
15 minutes later, however, the pressure was back on us after our defence opened up again and Baldock dinked the ball over Szczesny. Wenger had already replaced Giroud and Walcott with Akpom and Sanchez and Ozil then went off for Coquelin as we tried to make sure of the win.
Brighton were really going for it and getting among us, while Alexis nearly set up Akpom. The Chilean won a free kick and his deflected attempt hit the bar with five minutes left and the game stayed right on the edge although Arsenal are better at handling this sort of pressure these days.
It was a really fantastic FA cup game in a weekend full of them and Arsenal will be very relieved to have won it and got through to the 5th round.