Arsenal vs Brighton – LIVE Reddit Soccer 9/4/2022
Seeking to get their top-four charge right back on track, Arsenal welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s Premier League encounter. The Gunners were outfought and outclassed in a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Monday, while Graham Potter’s side most recently drew 0-0 with Norwich City. Everything that could go wrong at Selhurst Park did go wrong for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, who took it upon himself to apologise for his side’s “unacceptable” performance, which was certainly a contender for their worst showing of the season.
Jean-Philippe Mateta, Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha’s finishes handed Palace a deserved dominant win as Patrick Vieira got one over his former employers, while injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey before and during the game rubbed salt into the wounds. Talk of Arsenal’s season being “over” is of course very premature, as despite their humbling at the hands of the Eagles, the fifth-placed Gunners still have their Champions League destiny in their own hands, with Tottenham Hotspur only clear on goal difference having played a game more.
Whichever North London club makes the top four could very well be determined in what ought to be a pulsating derby encounter on May 12, but for the time being, Arsenal will welcome a return to the Emirates as the third-best home team in the Premier League this season. Indeed, the Gunners have claimed 10 wins from 14 on home soil in the top flight since the beginning of September, and their only defeats at the Emirates this term have come to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, so a chance to boost their morale and standing in the table surely lies ahead.
Before sulking at Selhurst Park, Arsenal fans would have revelled in witnessing nemesis Neal Maupay miss the chance to end Brighton’s barren run in front of goal, as the Seagulls were forced into a share of the spoils against a beleaguered Norwich City.
With 29 minutes on the clock, Maupay blasted his spot kick over the bar and also missed a number of other opportunities to break the deadlock at the Amex Stadium, as Potter’s men continue their stark decline following an eye-catching start to the season.
Having now failed to score in each of their last three Premier League encounters – as well as six from their last seven in the top flight – Brighton have plummeted to 13th in the rankings but are still comfortably 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
Arsenal’s run of qualifying for European football for 25 consecutive years remains one of the most impressive ongoing records in the Premier League at the moment. That record could be on the line, though when the north London outfit take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday, in their final match of the 2020/21 campaign.
Standing at ninth in the league table, it has been a dismal campaign for Mikel Arteta’s men, who have also underperformed in both FA Cups and Carabao Cup before being knocked out of the UEFA Europa League by former manager Unai Emery, earlier this month.
The Gunners, though, still have an opportunity to seal European football – more precisely in the newly introduced UEFA Conference League. In order to qualify, they must secure all three points this weekend and hope both Tottenham Hotspur and Everton drop points in their respective games against Leicester City and Manchester City.
As far as Brighton themselves are concerned, they do not really have too much to play for, having secured their top-flight status a while back. The Seagulls, though, are keen on ending their campaign on a strong note, which was evident in the magnificent win over champions Manchester City this midweek.
Arsenal, though, are currently one of the most in-form teams in the division, having secured four back to back wins in the league. It might still be not enough to help them secure European football next season, and here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a closer at these two sides ahead of their crucial encounter at the Emirates this weekend.
Arsenal will have to make some very important tactical decisions in this must-win encounter, and although we largely expect him to continue with the 4-2-3-1, there could certain tweaks in this setup.
Calum Chambers and Kieran Tierney, in particular, are going to play versatile roles in the fullback position. Chambers is set to remain deep, helping out the two centre-backs in Gabriel Magalhaes and Rob Holding, while Kieran Tierney should be given the license to roam forward with the ball.
It could make the 4-2-3-1 turn into a three-man backline during the attacking phases, with Bukayo Saka operating as the right-sided wingback. The Englishman’s ability to drop back could be useful in helping Arsenal combat Brighton’s 3-4-3 setup that creates numerical superiority for the Seagulls during pressing situations.
In general, though, Saka should partner Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe as part of the creative trifecta. Arteta, though, could be tempted to call up Martin Odegaard as a second-half substitute, following an impressive cameo appearance off the bench against Crystal Palace.
These three will primarily look to create chances for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the lone centre forward for Arsenal. The Gabonese international, though, is not expected to operate as a target man. Instead, he will make movements that will destabilise the Brighton backline, allowing Pepe to make useful runs in behind.
The onus on providing those balls in behind the back, though, will be on the midfield combo of Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey. These two will also play a vital role in creating turnovers and winning loose balls in the middle of the park – things that are essential in Mikel Arteta’s style of football.
The stalemate with Norwich did at least end a six-game losing run for Brighton, but failure to get one over the league’s basement side at home is hardly ideal before a trip to North London – especially seeing as they have won just twice away from home since October.
Potter’s side did manage to hold Arsenal to a 0-0 draw on the South Coast earlier this season, but the Gunners won 2-0 at home on the final day of the 2020-21 season and have now kept three clean sheets on the bounce versus the Seagulls.