Brighton-Arsenal Preview: Wenger wary of hosts' attacking threat

The Gunners boss is well aware of the attacking power at Chris Hughton’s disposal, the Championship side having won four out of five coming into this FA Cup fourth-round tie

Arsenal will have to quell the attacking threat of Brighton and Hove Albion if they are to prevail in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie, according to manager Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman watched on as his side eased past Hull City 2-0 in the previous round, the side they beat in the final to win the trophy last season.

Despite Brighton struggling in the lower reaches of the Championship this season, Wenger knows that his team are in for a tough test at the Amex Stadium, having squeezed through 3-2 against the same opposition at the same stage two years ago.

“We have to keep their strikers quiet,” he told the club’s official website. “In the cup, you have to be ready from the start on and people like that can always surprise you if you’re not ready.

“It’s always difficult in the Championship away from home. I remember it was a very difficult game two years ago against a team who were on the way up with Gus Poyet. We needed to dig deep to get out with a positive result.

“Chris Hughton will give them his experience and his competence, of course. He knows how to prepare a team for a challenge like this.

“For us the challenge is to turn up with the same spirit and show that we can be consistent with our attitude game by game. We know that it will be another big challenge for us to go there and come home with a positive result.”

Arsenal have lost just once in their last nine matches in all competitions, while their hosts have won four of their last five, including a 2-0 victory at fellow Championship outfit Brentford in the previous round.

A 3-2 home win over high-flying Ipswich Town in midweek further lifted spirits around the club and striker Sam Baldock – who scored the opening goal in that win – hopes the players can take that feel-good factor into Sunday’s match.

“There’s a bit of buzz around now and we can firmly look forward to that game as an occasion and as a test for ourselves,” he told Brighton’s official website. “We’ve all got ambitions to play at the highest level and what better way to test ourselves?

“It could be a welcome break from the league. Obviously, when you go flat out with so many games in quick succession and you’re not picking up the points you feel you should be, then it can drag on a little bit. It’s going to be a good occasion and a good test for us.”

Wenger revealed that Mesut Ozil is “likely” to make his first start since October after a knee injury but doubts remain over the fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin) and Hector Bellerin (ankle).

Danny Welbeck (thigh) is out and Serge Gnabry is still unavailable after only just returning to full training following a knee problem.

Brighton boss Hughton, meanwhile, is hopeful the trio of Jake Forster-Caskey, Craig Mackail-Smith and Greg Halford will all return after missing the victory over Ipswich.

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