As Arsenal gear up for a testing FA Cup tie at Brighton and Hove Albion this weekend, reports in Spain suggest the game could be an opportunity for Arsenal’s hierarchy to assess Brighton manager Gustavo Poyet.
Poyet has had a successful spell at the Seagulls. In just over three years he has led them from League One to the Championship, where they have consolidated their position and have the potential to challenge for a play-off spot this year. With their new stadium, Brighton have the stability and facilities to be a Premier League club in the near future.
Brighton have proved their credentials in cup competitions during the last 18 months. They have beaten Newcastle (twice) and Sunderland, as well as pushing Liverpool close in a League Cup tie. This weekend’s match against Arsenal promises to be an enthralling encounter. Poyet likes his teams to play football, and he has assembled a side full of technique. There is an excellent mix of youth and experience, with the presence of Calderon and Vicente as shining examples for younger players.
It appears that Poyet may have to make his biggest managerial decision yet in the next year. The link with Arsenal could be just the start. His achievements at Brighton – added to his coaching experience at Leeds and Tottenham – make him a candidate for many Premier League roles.
However, Arsenal could indeed be a viable destination for Poyet. He would find a young squad, ready and willing to play his way, and eager to achieve. There is no doubt he would need to make a couple of additions, but he has proven that he can operate effectively in the transfer market. Craig Mackail-Smith was an inspired buy, and his loan signing of Wayne Bridge has helped reinvigorate the full back.
Arsene Wenger’s future has come under increased scrutiny during the last few months. He has recently been linked with PSG and Real Madrid, and after seven years without a trophy, could it be time for Wenger to move on?
This speculation adds another dimension to a fascinating cup tie. The outcome could be even more important than a place in Round 5.