Theo Walcott: It's going to take time to get my match fitness back, I was blowing hard towards the end

The forward continues his recovery from a injury

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The Independent Online

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger praised his side’s strength in depth as the FA Cup holders made it through to round five with a 3-2 win at Brighton despite a spirited second half display from the Championship club.

The Gunners boss made seven changes to the team that won at Manchester City last Sunday, and two of those players – Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil – scored to put the Premier League outfit into a commanding two-goal half-time lead.

“They’ve done well for players who have been out for such a long time. It was a pacey game on a difficult pitch, but they did very well. At the moment we are in good shape.”

“For a big part of the game, our pace and movement meant that we controlled the play, but it’s a cup tie against a team who will never give up and at 3-2 it was edgy although even then we still had chances to see the game off.”

Albion’s gutsy performance after the interval was also praised by Walcott, who marked his return to the Arsenal starting line-up after long-term injury with a second minute goal.

 

“In patches we were very good. Their goals put us under pressure, and you have to credit Brighton, they kept coming at us, and after yesterday’s results, it was never going to be easy.”

“I’ve been out for a year so it’s going to take time to get match fitness back. I was blowing hard towards the end, but I was pleased with the finish, and there’s definitely going to be many more.”

“We were disappointed with the goals we conceded, but in the FA Cup it doesn’t matter how you perform as long as you get through.”

The win means Arsenal are now favourites to retain the trophy they won in May as they take their place in Monday evening’s fifth round draw, and Wenger remarked on the possibility of becoming the first manager to win the trophy for a record sixth time.

“We have a goal, but there’s such a long way to go. We are ready for the fight.”

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