Let’s be clear, Arsenal needed the three points desperately at this stage of their season, but their hosts Brighton were never going to make it easy. It was a desperately uncomfortable watch for the first 45 minutes as Brighton’s inept finishing and incompetence in front of goal spared Arsenal’s blushes. Was this the side that made Chelsea look so poor?
Arteta made only one change by swapping Aubameyang for Lacazette. Yes, it appears that he liked what he saw last time out but he must have been wondering what he’d done for a while as Arsenal got battered by a Brighton side scrapping for points as they seem to do every year.
Brighton brought a fearless game and had no intention of surrendering to their more established rivals and guests. Arsenal wobbled constantly under pressure as Brighton swept forward in search of a goal. Their optimism was justified because they’d won both fixtures last season with some ease.
The Gunners these days are somewhat easy prey for the supposed weaker teams in the league and have been for some time. It’s infuriating that everyone apart from Arsenal seem to know their weak points and it’s baffling that the club hasn’t addressed those weakness going back several seasons.
How Brighton didn’t go 3-0 up is a mystery and they paid the price for their extravagant waste in the second half when Arsenal came out like a scorched cat, fashioning chance after chance, constantly threatening the Seagulls’ goal.
The key moment was Arteta’s decision to employ Lacazette in place of a subdued Martinelli. Saka received the ball in his half with his back to the Brighton goal, trying to ignore the attention of the enormous Dan Burn, but he soon left him gasping as he took a flight down the right with Lacazette sensing a chance. The Frenchman monitored the youngster’s progress before getting himself into a predatory position. Saka supplied a sumptuous pass that Lacazette squeezed into the corner for an Arsenal lead.
Lacazette is on fire with three from three and it’s hard to drop him, but Arteta’s recent success against Chelsea has made it hard to play both on the same side. It’s a nice problem to have but if the Spaniard continues to use the Frenchman as a super-sub, he runs the risk of denting his confidence.
Suddenly, Arsenal were in command, full of purpose and defensively sound, although they didn’t have things all their way. Brighton have no one that can get on the end of the few chances they make and unless they put that right in January, they will be in real trouble.
It was a chalk and cheese performance by the Gunners who didn’t have a sniff of goal in the first half compared to 11 attempts in the second, which put them on a par with their hosts. Arteta will be pleased with the second half but certainly not the first and despite a good showing from the classy ESR, the Spanish boss needs a more experienced head in midfield while the youngster continues to develop.
This Arsenal side is virtually picking itself at the moment with youth looking to be the way forward. If Edu can’t find the beans to buy new players, then they will prove even more important in the coming seasons with a host of others bursting through from the academy. In the meantime, Arsenal need to perform for 90 minutes against this type of stubborn opposition, not 45.