Brighton 2 Arsenal 3
( O’Grady 50, Baldock 75, Walcott 2, Özil 24, Rosicky 59, )

Arsenal secured safe passage into the hat for the FA Cup fifth round draw after seeing of Brighton at the Amex stadium Theo Walcott got the Gunners off to a blistering start, scoring after 89 seconds. Mesut Ozil doubled Arsenal’s advantage with a cool finish to beat David Stockdale. The home side then grabbed a vital goal when Chris O’Grady capitalised on a loose clearance, but Tomas Rosicky restored the Gunners’ two goal cushion with a superb volley from Olivier Giroud’s return pass. Sam Baldock’s neat finish over Wojciech Szczesny set up a tense finish, but the Gunners finished strongly with substitute Alexis Sanchez twice hitting the woodwork late on. Arsene Wenger admitted that he had to look twice to digest the FA Cup 4th round shock results, which saw Chelsea and Manchester City go out. But he was pleased to see the holders progress to Monday evening’s FA Cup 5th round draw.

” I believe our performance was good and there was room to score more goals with the chances we created. Overall what you want first is the quality of the performance and to go through. They had two shots on target. When you play away from home and the other team had two shots on target. Overall, I think we produced the performance I expected,” said Wenger.

The Arsenal manager was able to select both Walcott and Ozil to start and both were on the scoresheet. “For a first game it was encouraging. Ozil as well – maybe they dropped a little bit physically in the second half but overall they were ready.” At this stage of the season, Wenger is getting close to a fully fit squad with only Jack Wilshere and Danny Welbeck the notable absentees, and that scenario will present its’ own welcomed selection dilemma for Wenger.

“At this stage of the season (Arsenal have) never (had such good attacking options). Last year we lost many players in January and this year they’ve come back because they were out earlier,” noted Wenger.

No sooner than he had sat down at the Amex stadium, then Wenger was up on his feet, as were the 4000 travelling Arsenal fans. Calum Chambers broke down the right and crossed to find Walcott. With the ball still revolving, Walcott got a low shot firmly struck beyond Stockdale.

Arsenal were two goals to the good when Rosicky weaved a mesmerising spell on the Brighton defence. They were expecting a shot, but Rosicky had spotted Ozil. The German took one touch before beating Stockdale.

Brighton had hardly threatened Szczesny’s goal, but five minutes after the break they were on the board. Rosicky skied a ball which Chambers could have dealt with but he felt that O’Grady had won the ball unfairly. No matter. He let loose and Szczesny was beaten.

The Gunners however didn’t panic, moving the ball freely and at will. No surprises that when Roiscky’s tenacity won the ball as the hosts tried to break out. He spotted Giroud with a disguised reverse pass. Giroud the. found Rosicky back immediately for the Czech Republic midfielder to volley past Stockdale for a sublime finish.

Wenger brought on Sanchez for Walcott and then Francis Coquelin for Ozil as he sought to shore up the Gunners’ defence. Baldock’s neat finish ensured a nervy conclusion to proceedings, with Sanchez threatening another wonder show of his own, striking the woodwork twice. Arsenal however held on on the south coast and look determined to mount a resolute defence of the FA Cup, and Wenger asking for more of the same.

” We have a good momentum but let’s keep the urgency level very high and we know how quickly the momentum can die in football if your quality drops a little bit. We have a good opportunity to finish well this season so we have to show that we can compete in every single game now and earn our right to win the games,” he continued.

Up next, Arsenal host Aston Villa in the Premier League, and then the short trip across London for the North London derby. Keeping that winning momentum will be vital for the Gunners.