It was an evening that Arsenal supporters needed to believe in the hope of some reward. Having suffered eight games without a win and with Freddie Ljungberg in charge, fans wanted to see the commitment and desire which had been completely absent under Unai Emery.
Brighton who had pushed Liverpool so hard recently, were going to be a decent test in Ljungberg’s second game but it was a sloppy porridge type of start.
One thing was clear, Arsenal’s tackling was more crisp and on occasion they looked far more decisive but it wasn’t going to last.
Brighton found themselves having a sticky and stuttering first five minutes but after that they looked to be quite comfortable, assuming control with slick passing and a delightful willingness to get forward.
Xhaka, who one assumed would only wear Arsenal colours again if he bought a shirt in the club shop looked brighter than I’d ever seen him, he was guilty of a soggy pass which was intercepted but he was looking more useful.
Arsenal were showing a lack of confidence and were guilty of pedestrian football at times. Too many touches from too players wanting too much time was becoming a feature of the game.
The nervousness was no more evident than in a series of poor or short passes that allowed Brighton to push forward and ask questions.
The crowd started shuffling and Brighton fans were making all the noise. The Seagulls started to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and a goal was coming, you just felt it.
Webster got that goal (36) which started with a Pascal Gross corner into a crowded box, Dan Burn and Aaron Connolly had a dabble but Webster popped up to poke home.
Arsenal were so slow that there would have been no need for replays for any of their attacks. With the ball they were poor, without the ball they were awful and as the game wore in Joe Willock was looking certain to join the substitutes.
That’s what happened when he was replaced by Pepe who was in desperate need of some joy and he looked initially lively as he took up his position from the whistle to signal the second half.
It proved a useful substitution and it wasn’t long before Ozil found the head of Lacazette to equalise (50) with a header. Kolasinac flew across the keeper to help it on and there followed a slight delay as if his actions were being replayed by the video gods. Thankfully, it stood and suddenly Arsenal came to life as if they’d been subjected to a king size rollicking.
Kolasinac had looked Arsenal’s main threat with his appetite to get forward and his ability to fizz a ball into the box. You felt that a sprawling Aubameyang would eventually connect with one of them to edge Arsenal ahead. He was knocking on the door and if you knock hard enough for long enough, someone let’s you in.
David Luiz had a goal disallowed (63) after he got in the end of an Ozil free kick but his volley was massively offside from about 15 yards out.
In fairness, Brighton had to grit their teeth as Arsenal swamped them , keeping them prisoners in their own half but in the 80th minute that all changed as the visitors went from zero to hero Maupay met a cross fro Mooy which whistles off his head into the net and past a flat footed Leno.
Arsenal are now on their worst run since the 1970’s with nine games without a win but for a while in the second half, they looked energized, as if they could engineer a win but it wasn’t to be.
Arsenal only had 20 minutes of this match, the rest was Brighton’s. It was Brighton who did their homework, by doing the basics and by soaking up all that Arsenal could throw at them.
If this continues, the board will have no choice but to secure the services of an experienced manager that can solve their obvious problems.