Football: Deciphering Arsene Wenger’s intentions in this transfer window has been a tricky business, but there are signs that the Arsenal manager may opt to soldier on with his current squad after Saturday’s narrow FA Cup fourth round win at Brighton.
Olivier Giroud scored two sumptuous goals — his 12th and 13th of the season — and Theo Walcott snatched a late deflected winner as Arsenal narrowly booked their spot in the fifth round draw when a reply had looked much more likely.
In between, Brighton twice levelled matters, through Ashley Barnes and Argentinian debutant Leonardo Ulloa.
Asked whether he needs a new striker, Wenger replied: “Quality-wise, no. Number-wise we could be a bit short maybe. Gervinho is not here at the moment.
“We have Walcott, who can play through the middle and then, of course, Giroud.”
Most of the speculation concerning potential new arrivals has focused on goalscorers but it was in defence, most notably at left-back, where the Premier League club struggled here.
The Seagulls relentlessly attacked left-back Andre Santos, who came in for Kieran Gibbs as Wenger rotated his squad.
The Brazilian was torn to shreds by the lively Will Buckley in the first half and must have been mightily relieved to see his tormentor exit at the interval through injury.
Brighton, currently seventh in the Championship, enjoyed a record 27,113 attendance at their new stadium.
Manager Gus Poyet, always a gracious character, admitted that it had been “one of those days” for his team, who would have earned a return trip to Ashburton Grove had it not been for a cruel ricochet off defender Adam El-Abd that left keeper Casper Ankergren with no chance.
Poyet conceded that his side were unable to cope with the depth of the visitors, who introduced England internationals Walcott and Jack Wilshere from the bench when the match was still in the balance.
Nonetheless he was pleased with the debut of Ulloa, a £2 million acquisition from Almeria.
“He is lively in the box and brings us presence and strength,” said the Uruguayan, whose side are back in action at Sheffield Wednesday next weekend.