Football: As the minutes whittled down on this encounter, Arsene Wenger must have been relieved to escape the south coast with his record of never having lost in the FA Cup to a non-Premier League side still intact.
As it turned out, substitute Theo Walcott scored an 85th winner, albeit with a deflection off defender Adam El-Abd, to ensure Arsenal would not have to share tomorrow's FA Cup fifth-round draw with the Seagulls.
The outcome was perhaps a little hard on the hosts, who had twice come from behind, scoring through Ashley Barnes and new signing Leonardo Ulloa to cancel out Olivier Giroud's brace.
Until Walcott's intervention it looked as if the Gunners would leave the south coast frustrated by their inability to hold on to a lead. Three times the Gunners took the lead at the Amex, but twice they were pegged back by a resilient Brighton side, who sensed complacency from the visitors. Arsenal's third came sufficiently late that Gus Poyet's men were unable to muster a third charge.
Wenger had rung the changes from Wednesday's 5-1 drubbing of West Ham. Tomas Rosicky made only his fifth appearance of this season, while Abou Diaby, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Laurent Koscielny were also given starts.
Walcott dropped to the bench after his impressive performance against the Irons, as did Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, and Kieran Gibbs, who was replaced at left-back by Andre Santos.
The home side started the better and very nearly took the lead on 15 minutes when Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a brilliant save from Barnes.
David Lopez sent the former Plymouth man clear with a looping header. Barnes tried an acrobatic finish, but Szczesny managed to paw the ball away to safety.
Within seconds, Arsenal were ahead. The Gunners broke from the resultant corner, with Rosicky driving deep into the Seagulls half before finding Lukas Podolski on the edge of the area. The German deftly laid off the ball to Giroud, who was lurking just behind him.
The Frenchman took a touch to steady himself before bending a delightful left-footed effort beyond keeper Casper Ankergren and into the top corner for his first FA Cup goal and 12th of the season in all competitions.
Suddenly Arsenal had a real swagger to their play, one which, it must be said, bordered on arrogance. This exhibited itself in a static defence which on, 33 minutes, watched Barnes rise highest to Lopez's cross to head past a helpless Szczesny.
Brighton had earlier had the ball in the back through Ulloa, only to see it disallowed for offside.
Arsenal came out for the second half with renewed focus. On 51 minutes Oxlade-Chamberlain was felled on the edge of the area by El-Abd. Podolski stepped up for the free kick and bent a beautiful effort that evaded the Brighton wall, only to cannon back off the cross bar with Ankergren rooted to the spot.
It was not long before the visitors retook the lead and in some style. Diaby chipped a ball over the Seagulls back line. Giroud timed his run well and, with a touch that Gunners legend Dennis Bergkamp would have been proud of, pulled the ball down before drilling past Ankergren.
The test now for Arsene Wenger's men was whether they would allow complacency to creep back into the game.
In the immediate aftermath of there second goal, the answer was no. Brighton, it seemed, were often most vulnerable when they were on the attack. When one of their forays forward broke down on the hour mark, Arsenal cleared to Giroud, who shrugged off a defender and fired a powerful shot at Ankergren who beat it away.
The game was becoming stretched, however, and the Seagulls were soon level. Barnes produced a brilliant cross from the right wing for new signing Ulloa, only cleared to be play yesterday, to head home.
Wenger's side had again failed to defend a lead and the Frenchman swiftly withdrew Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ramsey for Jack Wilshere and Walcott.
The changes proved crucial as Wilshere took the corner that was punched to Walcott on the edge of the area. The Englishman's shot would probably have been cleared otherwise but took a crucial touch of El-Abd to seal the win for the Premier League club.
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