Brighton will be plotting an FA Cup upset when they host Arsenal at the AMEX Stadium on Sunday (16:05 GMT, live on BT Sport).
The Seagulls come into the match on the back of three wins in four matches following the appointment of Chris Hughton (pictured) as their new manager at the start of the year. They are 19th in the Championship, with 29 points from six wins, 11 draws and 10 defeats.
Hughton’s side won 3-2 at home to Ipswich Town on Wednesday thanks to a double from Joao Teixeira and an excellent strike from Sam Baldock. In a well-contested match in which possession was evenly distributed, it was the verve of the Brighton attack, and in particular Teixeira, that saw them create the better chances and eventually emerge victorious.
It was only the third home league win for Brighton this season, and the first time all campaign that they had scored more than two goals on home soil. Hughton, who took over following the resignation of Sami Hyypia just before Christmas, is still finding his feet but early results and performances suggest that he will prove a steady hand.
Adrian Colunga and the Liverpool-loanee Teixeira have been Brighton’s primary goal threats during the current campaign, with each of them having made a direct contribution to seven league goals. In addition, towering central defender Lewis Dunk is a major threat from set-pieces, having already scored four times this season from deliveries into the penalty area.
Hughton will definitely be without the injured Andrew Crofts (cruciate), Kazenga LuaLua (knee) and Dale Stephens (ankle) for this FA Cup game, while Craig Mackail-Smith (ankle), Greg Halford (calf) and Jake Forster-Caskey (hip) are all doubtful. The club are hopeful of completing the necessary paperwork to allow new signing Beram Kayal to take part.
Arsenal make the short journey south on the back of an impressive 2-0 victory away to Manchester City. They are fifth in the Premier League table, just a point behind Manchester United in fourth, with 39 points from 11 wins, six draws and five defeats.
Arsene Wenger has often been criticised for his lack of tactical flexibility, but he got his game-plan spot on against City. Arsenal stayed compact between the lines and were strong and solid in defence. They only threatened sporadically themselves yet emerged victorious thanks to a Santiago Cazorla penalty and an Olivier Giroud header from a set piece.
Cazorla was the Gunners’ man of the match, with his excellent touch in possession helping them advance forward and relieve pressure on their defence. He was involved in both goals and also worked hard to cover ground defensively. While Alexis Sanchez has rightfully received plaudits for his superb recent performances, Cazorla has also been excellent.
It remains to be seen whether the victory will prove a turning point in Arsenal’s hitherto inconsistent campaign but they certainly now look well placed to put pressure on current top four occupants Southampton and Manchester United during the remainder of the season. Wenger is still seeking to add one or two players to his squad before the end of January.
Arsenal will definitely be without the injured Abou Diaby (calf), Danny Welbeck (thigh), Jack Wilshere (ankle) Mathieu Debuchy (shoulder) and Mikel Arteta (ankle) for this FA Cup match, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) and Hector Bellerin (ankle) are doubtful. Mesut Ozil is likely to make his first start in over three months after recovering from a knee injury.
Brighton vs Arsenal Betting Tips
These two teams met at the same stage of the FA Cup in 2013, with Arsenal eventually emerging as 3-2 victors after Brighton had twice levelled. The majority of their previous encounters occurred in the late seventies and early eighties, when Brighton were part of the top flight. The historical record shows 10 wins for Arsenal, two for Brighton and two draws.
Brighton defeated Brentford 2-0 away from home to reach the fourth round, and if their early performances under Hughton are anything to go by they will be determined to put up a good fight on Sunday. They do, however, have a very poor home record so far this season and it is difficult to imagine that they will be able to prevent their visitors from scoring.
Arsenal began their FA Cup defence with a home victory over Hull City in round three and will be relatively confident of progressing at least a round further. They have a mixed record away from the Emirates so far this season, with four of their five league defeats coming on their travels, but have enough quality in their ranks to overcome their hosts here.
- Back Arsenal to win on the ‘match result and both teams to score market’ @ 9/4 with Bet365 and Ladbrokes.
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in six of their last seven FA Cup matches and have won the race to two goals in four of their last five away matches in all competitions. Even if Wenger puts out a relatively weak starting XI, they will be confident of doing so again. Back Arsenal to win the race to two goals @ 7/10 with Ladbrokes.