Brighton 2-3 Arsenal
26/1/13 - 3.00pm
Albion served up another memorable Amex offering as they were edged out 3-2 by Arsenal in the FA Cup.
Over 27,000 fans saw the Seagulls go toe to toe with their top flight opponents for the most the match, with the impressive Leonardo Ulloa scoring a debut goal, however substitute Theo Walcott volleyed home a late deflected effort to settle to tie.
Both sides grew into the game after early bouts of possession, and it was the Seagulls who had the first clear-cut opportunity. Ulloa laid the ball off to David Lopez, whose guided header found Ashley Barnes in the box, but the striker's snap shot was expertly tipped round by the post by Wojciech Szczesny.
With the Albion ruing what could be a costly miss, Arsenal broke from the resulting corner to devastating effect. Tomas Rosicky skipped away down the right before finding Lukas Podolski on the edge of the area - the German shifted it on for Olivier Girioud, who took a touch before bending a fine left-footed effort into the top corner past an unsighted Casper Ankergren.
The Seagulls went on the hunt for a response, and soon thought they had done just that when Inigo Calderon's cross found Barnes, and then Ulloa, who put the ball into an empty net - but the Argentine was correctly flagged for offside.
However, it was only a matter of time for Poyet's men - as Barnes levelled the scores on 33 minutes. The Albion striker made amends for his early miss by nipping ahead of the Arsenal back-line to head home from David's out-swinging corner. There was undoubted buzz that infused the Amex as the scores stayed level going into the break.
In the midst of the first 45, Albion were dealt a blow with captain Gordon Greer departing, as Calderon shifted to centre-half, and David to right-back, whilst Will Buckley was also withdrawn with Kazenga LuaLua taking up his place on the wing.
Carl Jenkinson brought Ankergren into action not long after the break with a drive on the angle following a marauding run down the right. Podolski then struck the bar with a bending free-kick as Ankegren stood stranded on the other side of the goal.
Debutant striker Ulloa then fired over after a fine break away move from the hosts - and it was his opposing number who looked to steal the headlines, as Giroud again put the Gunners in-front. Abou Diaby's lofted chip found the Frenchman's run into the area, where he proceeded to take a touch and then sweep the ball into the net on the angle.
Giroud nearly completed his hatrick moments later when he battled his way past Calderon to fire a left-footed drive at Ankergren, with the Danish keeper parrying the ball away well. An important stop it was as well, as the Seagulls broke down the other end and drew the game level once again.
Barnes picked up the ball on the right flank and swung in a delicious cross that was gobbled up by the lurking Ulloa in the 6-yard box - the Argentine stooping to power home a diving header. Wenger took immediate action by introducing England internationals Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.
Ulloa, meanwhile, departed to a standing ovation, as Craig Mackail-Smith made his way on. And it was the Seagulls' top scorer who couldn't quite connect with LuaLua's in-swinging cross as he misjudged the flight of the ball. Giroud again came close to his third with an acrobatic effort.
However, with Arsenal applying increasing amounts of pressure as the game creeped towards its conclusion, it seemed inevitable that a winner would arrive one way or another. Ankergren's punch from a corner fell to Walcott, who hit a first time volley that cruelly looped up off El-Abd and into the top corner.
The visitors threatened to run riot in the closing minutes as Ankergren did well to thwart both Giroud and Walcott, and it was to end 3-2 to Wenger's men in what will be remembered as a highly entertaining affair on the south coast.