This has been the weekend of massive cup upsets, with Tottenham, Southampton, Chelsea and Manchester City all exiting the competition yesterday. That propelled Arsenal to become the favourites to win the cup, but first they had to beat Brighton and Hove Albion. They got off to the perfect start: Calum Chambers jinked past two Brighton players, and crossed for Theo Walcott, who controlled and hit a powerful half-volley past David Stockdale after just two minutes. It's Walcott's first goal since New Years Day 2014, and he was delighted.
Arsenal were in full control, and looked as if they had too much class for Brighton. A header was blocked on the line, Aaron Ramsey's goal-bound shot was blocked. A second goal was on the cards, and it came after 24 minutes. After a string of passes, Tomas Rosicky slid in Mesut Özil, who passed the ball past Stockdale to make it 2-0.
At that point, Arsenal looked as if they could run up the score on Brighton, but the Seagulls came back into the match. A wayway clearance by Rosicky allowed Chris O'Grady to outjump Calum Chambers, control, and after not being closed down by Mathieu Flamini, fire into Wojciech Szczesny's near post, with the Pole having no chance. Brighton looked up for it, but Tomas Rosicky played a pass to Giroud, who returned with a cross for Rosicky to superbly volley past Stockdale to make it 3-1.
With the game seemingly over, Alexis Sánchez and Chuba Akpom came on for Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud. Akpom added pace up front, but before he could get involved, Brighton pulled a goal back, with Sam Baldock played past Monreal and Koscielny, and able to finish over Szczesny. With 15 minutes left, there was more than enough time for Brighton to get an equalising goal, and they upped the tempo, winning the ball in midfield and giving Alexis Sánchez the type of kicking treatment that only Championship sides can. The Chilean played in Akpom, but instead of returning to Alexis, he shot at Stockdale. Akpom also won a couple of free kicks, one of which resulted in a shot hitting the crossbar from Alexis.
But despite the wastefulness of Akpom and Alexis, Arsenal were fairly comfortable, with Szczesny an assured presence when Brighton played the ball into the penalty box. In the end, despite the lack of midfield possession, Arsenal had several chances to seal the match, and were able to hold Brighton off and march into the fifth round of the FA Cup.