Preview by Numbers: Brighton & Hove Albion v. Arsenal, FA Cup Fourth Round

American Express Community Stadium, Falmer
Sunday, January 25
11:00 a.m. EST, 16:00 GMT
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Michael Oliver
    • Assistants: Mike Mullarkey and Lee Betts
    • 4th Official: Simon Hooper
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 10 Arsenal wins, 2 Brighton wins, 2 draws
  • All-Time in the FA Cup: 4 Arsenal wins
  • Arsenal's Path Here
    • Third Round: Beat Hull City, 2-0
  • Brighton's Path Here
    • Third Round: Beat Brentford, 2-0
  • Arsenal's Premier League Form: D-W-W-L-W-W
  • Brighton's Championship Form: D-D-W-W-L-W
I have found that, in light of last weekend's incredible 2-0 win at Manchester City, I have no idea what to write in this opening section. I'm usually pretty good at taking the long view, trying to see the whole picture, and all that. But, after such a satisfying performance, it's hard not to be a little too giddy.

That's why it's so encouraging to hear the players' quotes afterwards were all along the lines of "this means nothing if we don't continue winning." Sure, we expect athletes to say cliched things like this and saying something and doing it are two different things, but I'm glad it's clear the players haven't gotten carried away like I have.

Let's keep Santi Cazorla-dancing our way forward then, shall we?

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Debuchy (shoulder,) Welbeck (thigh,) Arteta (calf,) Wilshere (ankle,) Diaby (calf,) Gnabry (knee)
Doubts: Bellerin (ankle,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin)

Leading with short-term injury news, Hector Bellerin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will face late fitness tests, as they deal with ankle and groin injuries, respectively. It sounds like the young right back is more likely to feature than the Ox. Danny Welbeck remains about two weeks away, as his thigh injury approaches "confusingly long-term," a realm well known to many Arsenal players.

Speaking of confusingly long-term, there's actual news on Abou Diaby! That news is, and I quote, "He is still injured. At the moment he is not in a position where he will be able to play soon because he is not on the field at all." Actually, that's not really news at all, is it? Many tabloids have taken this opportunity to point out that Diaby is out of a contract.

Serge Gnabry is nearing a return with the Under-21 squad; he's missed about 10-11 months now. I believe it's still at least a month for Jack Wilshere and now just under three for Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy.

Now that the injuries have been discussed, let's talk about the available squad! The biggest question will be whether or not David Ospina keeps his place. I'd be surprised if he didn't, to be honest, but that's just my gut instinct. Elsewhere, perhaps we'll get to see starts for Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott? It's hard to guess how much Arsene Wenger will rotate. Perhaps Laurent Koscielny's dodgy Achilles will get a rest?

Predicted XI: Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Monreal, Gibbs, Coquelin, Rosicky, Ozil, Cazorla, Walcott, Giroud.

Brighton Squad News

Out: None
Doubts: Forster-Caskey, Mackail-Smith, Halford

A bar I used to frequent in Brooklyn (now closed) had this
Brighton flag for a while, despite almost never showing
the sport.
Finding injury news for non-top flight sides can be a tricky proposition; as far as I can tell, the Seagulls have no players who are outright out of this upcoming match. There will, however, be doubts over three players who missed Brighton's midweek win over Ipswich Town: Jake Forster-Caskey, Craig Mackail-Smith, Greg Halford are all questionable. On the other hand, defender Lewis Dunk will return from a one-match ban after being booked twice and sent off against Brentford at the weekend.

Tactically, Brighton might employ a similar formation under new manager Chris Hughton to the ones he used to frustrate Arsenal in the past, specifically in Newcastle's 1-0 win at the Emirates in 2010 and Norwich's 1-0 win at Carrow Road in 2012. The Seagulls attack will certainly include Joao Teixeira, on loan from Liverpool. Teixeira scored twice against Ipswich on Wednesday, following Sam Baldock's opener.

Usually, Teixeira and Baldock play up front alongside either Chris O'Grady (who returned early from loan at Sheffield United) or Craig Mackail-Smith. With the latter an injury doubt and the club in need of a more defensive posture, Hughton could opt to only use Teixeira and Baldock at the front of a 4-4-1-1.

Predicted XI: Stockdale, Calderon, Dunk, Greer, Bennett, Holla, Ince, Forster-Caskey, March, Baldock, Teixeira.

Current Form

Hughton and Brighton look like they could rhyme.
But, they don't. English is tricky like that.
Since David Ospina started in place of Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal have three wins from three, all via clean sheet. Since Francis Coquelin was recalled from his loan, Arsenal have won six, lost one, and drawn one. Since late November, around the time Olivier Giroud returned from his injury, Arsenal have won 10 of their last 13. In fact, Arsenal have lost only one match this year in which Giroud started, the 3-2 at Stoke. With the hugely impressive win at Manchester City, Arsenal have won three straight across all competitions for the second time this season. They have not won four straight since the end of last season.

Through December 22nd, Brighton & Hove Albion had a record, across all competitions, of five wins, 11 draws (including a penalty shootout win over Swindon Town,) and 10 losses. The club sat 22nd in the Championship table and manager Sami Hyypia (whom you may recall from his days at Liverpool) resigned. Despite a draw with Reading on Boxing Day and a win over Fulham at the Cottage on the 29th of December, the Seagulls remained in the relegation zone.

On December 31, the club hired Chris Hughton, who had most recently been at Norwich. Since the hiring Brighton have rebounded, winning three and losing one across all competitions. The Seagulls are now 19th in the Championship, six points clear of relegation.

Match Facts

Theo Walcott scores the winner at the Amex in 2013.
Arsenal and Brighton last met in this very round two years ago, with Arsenal winning 3-2. At the time, Brighton were sitting 7th in the Championshp table, battling for promotion, while Arsenal sat 6th in the Premier League table. In the match, Olivier Giroud twice gave Arsenal a one-goal lead, but Brighton came back to equalize both times. In the end, it was Theo Walcott with the winner, scored in the 85th minute, to avoid a replay. Arsenal went on to lose to Blackburn Rovers at home in the next round, while Brighton would go on to fall short in their battle for promotion.

Arsenal have won three straight against Brighton across all competitions, with the Seagulls' last win coming by a 1-0 scoreline on September 7, 1982. Brighton had spent four years in the top flight from 1979 to the spring of 1983; Arsenal won five of the league encounters, Brighton won two, and one ended drawn.

This is the fifth time the clubs will be meeting in the FA Cup; Arsenal have advanced in all four previous encounters, in 1935, 1980, 1988, and 2013.

That means in 14 total matches, Arsenal have outscored Brighton 27-7.

The Referee

The last time Oliver worked a Brighton match, they...
The referee is Northumberland-based Michael Oliver. Arsenal's record with Oliver is mixed this season, with two league draws against Tottenham and Liverpool and a win in the Community Shield over Manchester City.

Oliver actually took charge of the meeting between these clubs in the 2013 FA Cup fourth round. The only other Brighton match he has worked since then was the first leg of the 2013 Championship play-off semi-final against Crystal Palace, which ended 0-0 at Selhurst Park. You could probably guess how the second leg of that play-off ended, considering Crystal Palace promoted that season (and also, I said Brighton fell short in the last section; pay attention!)

Arsenal have not won a match outside of London with Oliver as the referee since, you guessed it, their visit to Brighton in 2013. Since then, while on the road, Arsenal have lost at Old Trafford and Anfield last year and drew at Anfield last month.

Around the Fourth Round

32 teams remain in the competition; 15 are from the Premier League, 10 are from the Championship, six are from League One, and one is from League Two. There are no teams from outside of the Football League remaining in the tournament.
  • Friday (night): Cambridge United v. Manchester United; Abbey Stadium, Cambridge
  • Saturday (early): Blackburn Rovers v. Swansea City; Ewood Park, Blackburn
  • Saturday: Birmingham City v. West Bromwich Albion; St. Andrew's, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Cardiff City v. Reading; Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
  • Saturday: Chelsea v. Bradford City; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Saturday: Derby County v. Chesterfield; iPro Stadium, Derby
  • Saturday: Manchester City v. Middlesbrough; Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Saturday: Preston North End v. Sheffield United; Deepdale, Preston
  • Saturday: Southampton v. Crystal Palace; St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton
  • Saturday: Sunderland v. Fulham; Stadium of Light, Sunderland
  • Saturday: Tottenham Hotspur v. Leicester City; White Hart Lane, London
  • Saturday (late): Liverpool v. Bolton Wanderers; Anfield, Liverpool
  • Sunday (early): Bristol City v. West Ham United; Ashton Gate, Bristol
  • Sunday (early): Aston Villa v. AFC Bournemouth; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Monday (night): Rochdale v. Stoke City; Spotland Stadium, Rochdale
John Painting is a contributing writer to The Modern Gooner and fictional character from the American television sitcom "Seinfeld". You can follow him on Twitter @zorrocat if you think you're awesome enough.