Last season this may have been an opportunity for Brighton to cause an upset, although the Seagull’s poor record this term has led many to believe that this will be a straightforward game for Arsenal. Nevertheless, there is always pressure attached to these away ties – let alone when the visitors happen to be the reigning holders.
For Brighton, some might suggest that the Seagulls will just want to concentrate on their league campaign. This stands to reason; after all, the club are embroiled in something of a relegation dogfight as they reside in 19th position, six points above the bottom three. However, there’s no doubt that their plight has improved no-end over recent weeks, with the appointment of Chris Hughton completely turning their season around. They’ve now lost just one of their last seven, while approach this clash having won four of their last five games. With just one win from their last six at home though, it’s a little too soon to be talking about potential cup upsets.
Strangely, the results from Saturday’s fixtures may have made Arsene Wenger reconsider his plans for this game. With Manchester City and Chelsea now out of the competition, and both Liverpool and Manchester United forced into replays, the Gunners have the perfect path to defend their trophy. Additionally, recent form seems to be on their side as well. They’ve lost just one match from their last nine, with the pick of the results coming in the form of a convincing 2-0 victory over Manchester City last week. Most people noted how Wenger’s men were finally able to adapt their traditional style, and play with a tighter mentality. It remains to be seen whether or not they will use that approach again ahead of this away encounter.
If we look towards team news, Brighton have been handed a boost with Lewis Dunk poised to be involved in some capacity after serving his suspension against Arsenal. Elsewhere, there won’t be places for Dale Stephens and Kazenga LuaLua due to injury, but Craig Mackail-Smith and Jake Forster-Caskey could be involved following their stints on the treatment table. Arsenal meanwhile could hand starts to Theo Walcott and Mesuit Ozil, as the duo bid to get some elusive game time under their belt following injury problems. There is also an outside chance that Jack Wilshere could be involved, after he stepped up his rehabilitation after an ankle injury.
In terms of a prediction, we think that this will be a fairly straightforward game for Arsenal. The other big top flight outfits may have struggled this weekend, but with the Gunners attempting to defend their trophy we don’t think this will be the case. Instead, we’ll tip a 2-0 win for Arsene Wenger’s side.