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Brighton vs Arsenal Match Review

On Sunday Arsene Wenger and his side had yet another chance to bounce back from back-to-back defeats and show their fans that there is still some fight left in this side. Twenty-five minutes on the clock and Brighton were 2-0 to the good with Arsenal failing to craft any real kind of opening, despite Wenger starting Aubameyang, Ozil, Wilshere and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

The problem, clearly, for Arsenal is not just their lack of goals in recent games but also their monumental collapse in defence. Players look lost, World Cup winners can’t do the basics and the keeper that once conceded fifteen goals in a whole season is now at fault for multiple goals in a single game.

Brighton were keeping the ball from the away side and had just under 70% possession before half-time. More misery came for the Arsenal defence after just seven minutes when an in-swinging corner fell to Lewis Dunk after Petr Cech missed his attempted clearance. Dunk pounced for his first goal of the season. After a bright opening couple of minutes from Arsenal, the home side were now playing with confidence and spent the next thirty minutes putting Arsenal under some serious pressure.

Arsenal were gifting the ball to Brighton all over the pitch, missing simple passes and by twenty-six minutes it finally cost them. It was 2-0 to Brighton and it’s another that moment Petr Cech will want to forget. Koscielny gifts the ball back to Brighton, not for the first time, and they quickly distribute the ball out wide before sending it into the box where Glen Murray waits for a simple header that goes right underneath the Czech goalkeeper.

With Brighton now playing the sort of football you would expect from Arsenal, the chorus of “We Want Wenger Out” can be heard from the away end at the Amex Stadium. On the touchline, Arsene looks to have even less confidence than his players, and that’s some feat. It’s a sorry right but it’s clear there’s a huge disconnect between the manager, his philosophy and his players.

Arsenal, who are without an away win in the Premier League in seven games, found a way back into the game just before half-time. Just moments after Brighton’s José Izquierdo fired wide from a well worked free-kick, Arsenal counter down the left with Kolašinac. The ball is worked to Awobi who found Granit Xhaka on the edge of the box who, for once, seems to make the correct decision and slides the ball towards Aubameyang who flicks home from close range, his second goal for the club. Arsenal scored with their first attempt on target to make Arsene Wenger’s team talk that little bit easier.

As the second half starts it’s clear there’s a stark contrast in the way these two are playing. There’s a real clarity about watching Brighton, with each player knowing their role and where they need the ball to be. They’ll work it around, play short passing sequences until they can work the ball out wide and ultimately towards their target man, Glen Murray.

Arsenal players are wandering, with Wilshere looking isolated at times in the middle of the park. Ozil will drop deep to try and get the ball, then Mkhitaryan will do the same but all they’re really doing is recycling possession. Usually, you would say this shows the tactical shape of the side has fluidity, but not here, it feels more like lack of direction.

After a slow start to the second half, Arsenal finally take control of possession and begin to put Brighton under pressure with a succession of corners and free-kicks. Aubameyang has a half chance just before the hour mark as he rounds the keeper but can’t get his effort on target.

It wasn’t long before the pacey forward had another chance, with the best plays from Arsenal again coming down the left. Xhaka gets down the left and is fouled before the referee waves play on, the ball is whipped in towards the forward and his near post effort is saved by Matty Ryan, who also denied a long range effort from Mesut Ozil moments earlier.

Brighton did well to contain Arsenal in the second half and could have had another couple of goals on the break shortly after Ezequiel Schelotto was forced off with concussion after a clattering challenge from Kolašinac. On second viewing, the left-back could, and maybe should have been shown his second yellow card of the game.

No team has conceded more goals in the last fifteen minutes of games this season than Brighton. With this in mind, Wenger took off the ineffective duo of Mkhitaryan and Chambers for Hector Bellerin and Eddie Nketiah. Bellerin, who had been dropped for this game, was on the pitch just two minutes before Brighton carved open the Arsenal defence with Izquierdo and had the ball in the back of the net once more. However, to the relief of the Spaniard substitute, it was ruled offside.

The best chance for Arsenal to get an equaliser fell to that man Aubameyang again in stoppage time, but his snap shot was straight at Ryan, who had a solid second half. For the remaining moments, Brighton tormented the away side and almost got another with the impressive Murray feeding through Izquierdo before Cech made a rare save.

It’s a huge win for Brighton, who are now seven points clear of safety. They are unbeaten in six games, winning four.

For Arsenal, it’s more of the same. They’re simply not doing enough in possession of the ball and seemed to lack true urgency when falling behind in the first-half. Glen Murray had a great game for Brighton but was allowed so much time to bring the ball down and bring his team back into play. The less said about Granit Xhaka, the better.

I suspect Arsenal fans are not really surprised anymore. This season has got worse and worse and time seems to be running out for Wenger and his poorly assembled side. Its now one win in ten domestic away games, with the only victory coming at struggling Palace back in December. The Premier League table is not looking good for Arsenal, who will now need to win the Europa League if they want to be a Champions League side next season.AC Milan stand in their way, with the Italian side winning the last six games without conceding a single goal. Good luck, Arsene.


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