The Gunners travel to South Coast for the Brighton vs Arsenal match on Boxing Day after a 3-1 win against Burnley on Saturday.
The Gunners are level on points with fourth placed Chelsea after the Blues’ recent loss against Leicester City, and will push to take advantage of this opportunity of getting into the top four.
With three games in six days including one against Liverpool at Anfield, Unai Emery will be entering his very first real testing phase in English Football starting from Boxing Day. And Arsenal’s injury problems are not going to help the Spaniard either.
Here’s everything you need to know before the sensational Brighton vs Arsenal match.
Injuries and Suspensions
Arsenal will be without their preferred back four for the game. Héctor Bellerín is out for two weeks, while Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal are major doubts with tight hamstrings.
In addition, Henrikh Mkhitaryan also has a fractured right foot and is expected to return to training in six weeks time, according to Arsenal’s website. Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck are amongst those being ruled out for long term.
For Brighton, José Izquierdo is out with a knee injury while Lewis Dunk is facing suspension after being sent off at the weekend.
With these crises holding players back, the Brighton vs Arsenal match sets a sensational premise.
Selection dilemma for Emery
With Arsenal’s injury problems, Emery will have a selection headache ahead of the Brighton vs Arsenal game. The Gunners’ boss does not have many fit first choice defenders available for selection with Bellerín, Mustafi, Monreal and Holding all injured.
Laurent Koscielny and Sokratis Papastathopoulos are the most probable central defending pair at the back, but makeshift centre backs Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichtsteiner have featured in this role recently and could start this time as well.
Alexandre Lacazette, who seemed dejected and frustrated after being subbed off against Burnley is expected to lead the attack for Arsenal.
Aubameyang, who has been starting consistently for the last few weeks might be rested considering the Liverpool game on Saturday.
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Mesut Özil will hopefully start again at the Brighton vs Arsenal match after a very telling performance against Burnley. The German’s relationship with the manager has been questioned recently, but his performance against Burnley should give enough reasons for the manager to not drop him again.
Aaron Ramsey might also get a surprise start after Mkhitaryan being ruled out for a while.
Brighton come into this after three consecutive defeats in the League. But the Seagulls have a good record at home in the last two seasons, having lost only six in their last 27 home fixtures. A win could take them to 11th in the table.
Meanwhile, for Arsenal, Emery’s men come into this having lost only one of their last 16 Premier League games. And with Chelsea dropping points at Leicester, the Gunners would love to take advantage and get into the top four ahead of the all important fixture at Anfield on Saturday.
Prediction for the Arsenal vs Brighton Match
The Brighton vs Arsenal match is sure to keep fans glued to their seats.
Brighton won this fixture 2-1 last season with Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray on target for the Seagulls. With Arsenal’s ongoing defensive problems and potential squad rotation ahead of the Liverpool game, Brighton will fancy their chances this time around as well.
I do expect Arsenal’s defence to be tested on a number of occasions throughout the game, but I still expect Arsenal to get a 1-2 victory with the quality the London club possesses.
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