Preview: Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

Preview: Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion

On the back of contrasting results in the extraordinary Bank Holiday gameweek, title challengers Arsenal welcome European contenders Brighton & Hove Albion to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the Premier League.

Mikel Arteta’s side assured themselves of a top-two finish by seeing off Newcastle United 2-0 last weekend, while the Seagulls suffered a sensational 5-1 beating at the hands of Everton.

In his own words, Arsenal manager Arteta had hoped to invoke a fire within his players’ bellies by showing them clips from their Amazon documentary of last year’s humbling 2-0 loss to Newcastle, which all but ended their dreams of a Champions League comeback.

A similarly meek display at St James’ Park last weekend could have also had major implications on the Gunners’ end-of-season aspirations, but Arteta’s side unexpectedly nullified the Magpies’ threat and made the long journey home in high spirits thanks to a sweetly-struck Martin Odegaard opener and Fabian Schar’s own goal.

While the Manchester City juggernaut is showing no signs of waning anytime soon, Arsenal are at least forcing Pep Guardiola’s men to look over their shoulder in second place – one point behind the reigning champions, who have a game in hand and take on Everton a couple of hours before kickoff at the Emirates.

Sunday’s contest is not the be-all and end-all for Arsenal’s Premier League title chances, but it is arguably the biggest remaining test of the Gunners’ mettle ahead of their final two fixtures with Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers, so a first clean sheet in eight games at St James’ Park would have been welcomed with open arms.

Arteta’s side also enter the weekend on a 17-game scoring streak in all competitions – racking up a staggering 14 goals in their last four Emirates showdowns – but their lack of resilience at home is well-documented, and Roberto De Zerbi has warned Arsenal to expect “the true Brighton” after last week’s unexpected mauling.

The weather on the South-coast was as miserable as Brighton’s mood on the recent Bank Holiday Monday, where Everton astonishingly tore the Seagulls to shreds to give their survival hopes a major boost and leave De Zerbi lost for words.

Following an Abdoulaye Doucoure opener within just 34 seconds, the Toffees midfielder doubled his tally for the day later in the first half before a Jason Steele own goal and a second-half Dwight McNeil brace completed the unlikeliest of routs at the Amex – Alexis Mac Allister’s 10th goal of the season could hardly have been more inconsequential.

The Seagulls’ humiliation on a day of goal-laden extravaganzas came in the wake of their 6-0 demolition job over Wolverhampton Wanderers and successful revenge mission over Manchester United, both of which served to keep De Zerbi’s men in the continental conversation, sitting seventh at the time of writing.

The Seagulls also have the benefit of games in hand on the teams around them, although Newcastle and Man City are both lying in wait between now and the end of the season, and consistency on the road is hard to come by for Brighton, who have just two wins to show from their last seven away matches in the top flight.

De Zerbi’s side have at least found the back of the net in 11 successive away games – albeit while keeping just two clean sheets on rival turf all season long – and the Seagulls have remarkably prevailed in three of their last four trips to Arsenal, although the Gunners ended a turbulent 2022 in style with a 4-2 Amex success on New Year’s Eve.

Arsenal Premier League form:

Brighton & Hove Albion Premier League form:

Brighton & Hove Albion form (all competitions):

We say: Arsenal 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Without Saliba’s passing contributions from the back or Zinchenko’s line-breaking abilities, Arsenal’s build-up play will suffer greatly, and the Emirates has been a happy hunting ground for Brighton in recent memory.

A team refresh should do the shell-shocked Seagulls the world of good, but De Zerbi is dealing with his own untimely injury crisis, and a Brighton team who lack a consistent formula for success on the road should fall short at the Emirates as Arsenal keep the title fight going.

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