Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal: 5 Ways for the Gunners to Avoid a Shock

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistJanuary 25, 2013

Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal: 5 Ways for the Gunners to Avoid a Shock

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    Having already suffered one major upset at Bradford in the Capital One Cup, Arsenal will be keen to ensure they have a safe passage past Brighton in the third round of the FA Cup.

    However, Gus Poyet's side will be no pushover.

    Over the next five slides, we look at the steps the Gunners will need to take in order to shoot down the Seagulls.

Don't Rotate Too Much

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    Arsenal face a hectic January schedule, with eight games in just one month.

    It is understandable, therefore, that Arsene Wenger will seek to rotate his squad a little.

    There is an obvious advantage to this. As well as offering fresh legs, the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be motivated by a desire to show what they can offer the first team.

    However, Wenger must resist the temptation to make wholesale changes. Arsenal do not have the strength in depth required to change their entire team.

    Two or three changes should be enough to bring freshness to a side high on confidence after the hammering of West Ham. 

Say No to Sebastien Squillaci

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    Arsenal fans will be hoping not to see Sebastien Squillaci take to the field this weekend.

    The injury Thomas Vermaelen picked up against West Ham means Squillaci is now Arsenal's third-choice centre-half.

    Arsene Wenger may be tempted to give Per Mertesacker a rest, but would be wise to wait until Vermaelen has returned to do so.

    Squillaci's Arsenal performances have been poor at the best of times. After such a long time out of contention for a first-team spot, he is bound to be even more sluggish than we have come to expect.

Unleash Theo Walcott

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    Brighton face many different kinds of attacking threats in the Championship, but I doubt they've ever had to deal with someone with the sheer pace of Theo Walcott.

    Walcott is Arsenal's most in-form player and most potent goal threat. If he is fit enough to play this weekend, he must start.

    His speed could make all the difference against a defence more accustomed to a physical centre-forward in the Olivier Giroud mould.

    Let Walcott wreak havoc among the Brighton defence, then bring him off to grant him the rest he deserves.

Respect Brighton

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    Team selection is just one factor for Arsenal to consider this weekend. They selected a strong side in their Capital One Cup tie with Bradford, only to be undone by psychological factors.

    Brighton are a good side on the fringes of the playoff positions in the Championship. They are characterised by stylish, attacking football under the command of former Chelsea and Spurs midfielder Guy Poyet.

    Arsenal need to recognise they are in for a real test in this FA Cup tie. If they take Brighton lightly, they will be punished. 

Beware Craig Mackail-Smith

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    In Craig Mackail-Smith, Brighton have a striker of real quality.

    His performances this season have reportedly attracted the interest of Norwich (according to the Daily Mail), and it is not hard to see why. Mackail-Smith possesses a rare and valuable combination of qualities—he is strong, mobile and technically proficient. What's more, he has a scorer's instinct.

    Arsenal's defence will have to be mindful of Mackail-Smith if the Gunners are to have any chance of progressing to the next round of the FA Cup.