Albion will aim to take another Premier League scalp at a packed-out Amex as they tackle heavyweight pass-masters Arsenal in the 4th round of the FA Cup.
A clear step up in quality from the Seagulls’ victims in the previous round, which saw Alan Pardew’s admittedly understrength Magpies dumped out in style (again) – courtesy of goals from Andrea Orlandi and Will Hoskins. Will another memorable cup tie be in store?
Whilst the Toon were severely weakened that day, mostly through injury, it is unlikely Arsene Wenger will be willing offer the Albion such assistance – the FA Cup provides a real chance of silverware for the trophy-deprived Gunners, therefore it is likely to be a strong XI fielded.
Gus Poyet has called for a ‘smart’ display from his players as they look to stick with their top flight opponents in a way that didn’t occur at Anfield last season.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “I’m learning from last year and I want to make sure we don’t give everything up within 30 minutes. The first 35 or 40 minutes against Liverpool were very good for us and we were playing to a high standard, but then we were over and there was only one team on the pitch.
“That means that the tension affected us and we lost it mentally and physically. We know the opposition will have the chances because they have quality and fitness. They can run and sprint for longer because they are Premier League players, so we need to be smarter on Saturday.
“I want my team to play the same kind of football but be more intelligent than we were last year. The players need to defend better when they haven’t got the ball and we need to manage to deal with a top team. I want us to show the world of football that we are a decent team.”
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Having patiently waited for his debut since arriving from Almeria, new striker Leonardo Ulloa has finally received international clearance, and will be available to feature in this one.
Bruno (Achilles) will undergo a late fitness test, whilst Andrew Crofts misses out with a hamstring injury. Otherwise, Gus Poyet has a vast array of midfield and attacking options to choose from.
Player to watch: Leonardo Ulloa
Seagulls fans will be hoping to catch a glimpse of their long-awaited target man, wondering whether the ‘Cyclone’ will be the man to gobble up all those missed chances that have been squandered in recent months. A powerful poacher with notable aerial prowess – apparently – it’ll be nice to see what Leo has to offer, and what greater stage for him to take to.
Arsenal Team News:
Captain Thomas Vermaelen (ankle) has been ruled out, whilst midfield pair Mikel Arteta (calf) and Francis Coquelin (hamstring) are also on the short-term injury list.
However, Wenger has been boosted by the return of Frenchman Abou Diaby (thigh) and attacking midfielder Tomas Rosicky, as (somewhat forced) changes from their midweek drubbing of West Ham look likely.
Player to watch: Santi Cazorla
The diminutive Spaniard has been an undoubted bright light for the Gunners since making a summer switch from Malaga. A highly gifted midfielder, evidenced by his ambidexterity, Cazorla can shoot from distance, unlock a defence, and be a general nuisance – so Albion will need to get tight, and often.
Past Meetings & Stats
The two sides have met 3 times in the FA Cup, with Arsenal emerging victorious on all 3 occasions – the most recent occuring in 1988, a 2-1 win at the Goldstone.
The overall head to head record is similarly one-sided; 2 Brighton wins, 2 draws, 9 Arsenal wins.