Mikel Arteta will be only too aware that the 3-1 win against Chelsea at the Emirates at the weekend will have been worthless if it’s not backed up by another three points. Arsenal need to be able to put together a run of results to get clear of trouble with some tough fixtures ahead, the first of which is against Brighton.
Thankfully, from an Arsenal point of view, West Ham snatched a draw 8 minutes from time thus keeping a reasonably safe distance between the Gunners and the Seagulls in 15th and 16th place. However, a slack attitude against a side that have become survival specialists in recent years will undo any good work that had previously been done.
Arsenal have to work hard and deliver a similar performance to the one against a lacklustre Chelsea and Arteta must be tempted to give that team another chance against Brighton, rather than chop and change. Perhaps, he will now realise that a settled starting lineup that showed so much spirit and adventure will represent the club in the way he and the fans expect rather than trying to keep everyone happy, even when they haven’t delivered.
Brighton are capable of pulling off a shock and have made it tough for the big sides including Liverpool. On their day, they can easily get three points against any side in the Premier League and there will be some big-name casualties this campaign. The big problem for the Seagulls is keeping the goals out because they’ve shipped 24 in 15 games at 1.6 per game. All this with an Arsenal side that, up until the Chelsea game, couldn’t buy a goal which makes this a hard to call.
Brighton normally provides a stiff test for their opponents and a fixture against them usually concludes with one or two talking points and last year’s Leno injury at the hands of Neal Maupay and Guendouzi’s hands on the throat of the perpetrator was the final flourish of an ill-tempered contest. With all that’s at stake, you can expect something similar this time around with three precious points at stake.
What do I expect? More of the same with minimal changes. Willian, Luiz, Nelson, Gabriel, and Partey will all be absent. Some have suggested a midfield pairing of Ceballos and Xhaka but if Partey isn’t available yet, I expect Elneny to continue as the partner to the Swiss international.
Smith Rowe, Saka, and Martinelli should be automatic starters and the backline seems to pick itself with the Scottish powerhouse Kieran Tierney, Pablo Mari, Rob Holding, and Hector Bellerin, but I’d probably exclude the Spaniard for Maitland-Niles this time around. Lacazette will again take the traditional striker’s role with Aubameyang struggling for fitness.
Arsenal need to saturate the Brighton defence down the channels and through the middle. They need to get the ball out quickly to their forwards and establish dominance in the first 45 minutes. Arsenal should brush Brighton aside but they will need to contain a threat from all areas of the pitch whilst being especially wary of Danny Welbeck who will be eager to prove a point.
Predicted Side: Leno; Maitland-Niles, Holding, Mari, Tierney; Elneny, Smith Rowe, Xhaka; Saka, Lacazette, Martinelli.
Predicted Score: 2-0 Arsenal win