Brighton & Hove Albion 0-0 Arsenal: Premier League – 04/10/2021

Following their stupendous win in last Sunday’s North London Derby, Arsenal headed into their match against a high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion with the sort of confidence not seen around the club for a long time.

The injury to Granit Xhaka meant that only one change was necessary from the previous week as Albert Sami Lokonga dropped into midfield alongside Thomas Partey.

Graham Potter’s side have been playing with a confidence and swagger that has made them one of the surprise packages of the season and an ever-increasingly popular scalp to take.

The home side started well, attacking Arsenal with pace and with venom. Neal Maupay, already public enemy no. 1 for Arsenal fans after his clash with Bernd Leno and Mattéo Guendouzi, came close on a number of occasions, but it was set-pieces that Arsenal looked unusually vulnerable from. A bizarre match-up saw 6 fot 7 inch Dan Burn being marked by 5ft 10 inch Martin Ødegaard, which left no one in any doubt why the defender kept coming so close from the team’s subsequent corners, Lewis Dunk too.

Albert Sambi Lokonga battles with Pascal Groß.

That’s not to say that Arsenal didn’t have their fair share of chances, Bukayo Saka’s mesmeric run allowed Arsenal to have their first shot of the game and a few minutes later, he teed up captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who’s header smacked off the post.

The second-half was more of one-way traffic. Brighton were mean and looking to inflict as much damage as possible, most of which seemed to be coming in the form of either Marc Cucurella or Jakub Moder, both of whom were reeking havoc on the Arsenal defence, but for exceptionally poor finishing on Brighton’s part, Arsenal may well have walked away with nothing.

Emile Smith Rowe had arguably the biggest chance of the game, however. Faced with the decision between squaring it for Bukayo Saka or going alone, the youngster opted for the latter, and rather than placing his finish squarely into the far corner, he instead opted for the front post, which prompted a fairly easy save from Robert Sánchez.

The final say of the game, however, fell to Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal’s superb goalkeeper. A fantastic whipped in cross almost found Maupay, however, Ramsdale was quick to react and kept it just out of the Frenchman’s reach.

It wasn’t a good performance from Arsenal at all and a long, long way off of the mesmeric first-half that saw that expertly dispatch Tottenham last weekend.

The performance of Thomas Partey will likely be the focal point for many. Though he didn’t look too bad in midfield, his constant pot-shots, all of which seemed to cause more problems for any low-flying aircraft within the vicinity of the stadium, killed so many Arsenal attacks and begs the question as to just what he is actually doing in training. The shots were embarrassingly poor for a midfielder of Partey’s technical qualities and seemed to re-enforce the idea of the Ghanian never taking a shot again.

Neal Maupay with one of his many acrobatic efforts.

Another issue seems to stem from questions of the manager, such as “What does Gabriel Martinelli actually have to do to be given a place in this side?”. The performance of Martin Ødegaard was always going to open the possibility of a winger coming on and Emile Smith Rowe switching to the middle, but when the time came, Martinelli was nowhere to be seen, instead seeing Nicolas Pépé enter the field of play instead.

Martinelli’s conspicuous absence means that Arsenal have a distinct lack of energy in the team and it’s no surprise that Ødegaard’s departure saw the team’s intensity drop-off significantly.

However, as Sky Sports’ pundit and former Arsenal player Jack Wilshere pointed out in the aftermath of the game, given Arsenal’s young squad and lack of experience, sometimes learning not to lose is as useful as learning to win and Arsenal seemed to learn that against Brighton, even if they were a little lucky to do that too.

Arsenal team:
32.) Aaron Ramsdale
18.) Takehiro Tomiyasu
  4.) Ben White
  6.) Gabriel Magalhães
  3.) Kieran Tierney
23.) Albert Sambi Lokonga
  5.) Thomas Partey
  7.) Bukayo Saka (Maitland-Niles 90’)
  8.) Martin Ødegaard (Pépé 63’)
10.) Emile Smith Rowe
14.) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (c) (Lacazette 72’)

Arsenal subs:
  1.) Bernd Leno
16.) Rob Holding
17.) Cédric Soares
20.) Nuno Tavares
25.) Mohamed Elneny
15.) Ainsley Maitland-Niles
19.) Nicolas Pépé
35.) Gabriel Martinelli
  9.) Alexandre Lacazette

Brighton & Hove Albion team:
  1.) Robert Sánchez
24.) Shane Duffy
  5.) Lewis Dunk (c)
33.) Dan Burn
34.) Joël Veltman
13.) Pascal Groß (March 84’)
14.) Adam Lallana
15.) Jakub Moder (Mac Allister 78’)
  3.) Marc Cucurella
11.) Leandro Trossard
  9.) Neal Maupay

Brighton & Hove Albion subs:
23.) Jason Steele
  2.) Tariq Lamptey
28.) Haydon Roberts
20.) Solly March
30.) Taylor Richards
10.) Alexis Mac Allister
27.) Jürgen Locadia
  7.) Aaron Connolly 
60.) Jeremy Sarmiento

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