Brighton 2 Arsenal 1
Dunk 7, Murray 26, Aubameyang 53

The count of consecutive losses now numbers four games and judging from another abject performance, there appears little in the way of Arsenal being capable of arresting that appalling form. Lewis Dunk has an unfortunate knack of scoring own goals, but he chose Brighton’s game against the Gunners to finish off at the right end after Petr Cech failed to deal with a corner. Glenn Murray scored in his side’s second after Lauren Koscielny gave away possession, heading past Cech who was at error again. Under the cosh for most of the half, Arsenal grabbed a lifeline on the south coast, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang slotted in from Granit Xhaka’s pass. Before the break, Arsenal could have been level, but Koscielny saw his header hit the post. The Gunners search for a leveller would prove to be ill founded, despite Mesut Özil seeing his shot well saved at the near post. Further pressure now mounts on the shoulders of Arsene Wenger, who not only seems to be unable to get an effective game plan going, but crucially, appears to have hit a brick wall with his players.

Reports of Koscielny in tears in the dressing room following a clear the air players meeting last week have surfaced. The player himself accepts the confidence is low and that a top four finish will be very difficult.

“It will be very hard to finish in the top four. We’ve had a bad period and have not had the results we wanted. We lost our confidence a little bit and on the pitch we didn’t have the confidence we need to push ourselves more and to play well with the ball,” he said.

“We know we’re in a bad situation, a bad period,” he said. “We tried but nothing is with us. We tried to fight (at Brighton) and play football but you could see the confidence is very down.”

Talk of Wenger’s replacement is rife, with Thierry Henry’s name being prominent. The Gunners’ record goal scorer said that he has never backed away from a challenge in his life, and if the club were to approach him, ” you would have to say yes.” Patrick Vieria is another name being associated with Wenger’s job. Both the former Gunners would represent a new beginning at the Emirates should they link up, and also a much needed breath of fresh air after the current and seemingly ongoing listing of this club.

The incumbent Wenger however remains adamant that he can correct the worse sequence of losses in his managerial career, and that has really angered a section of the Emirates faithful who are pleading for his exit.

” We had difficulty to get going and we suffered a lot physically in the first half. After that, mentally as well I believe that the lack of confidence, linked with the physical aspect, made us lose some balls where they took advantage of it. Overall, on top of that, we made some defensive mistakes, where they took advantage of it as well. In the second half, it was all us. But we lacked a bit of sharpness and freshness physically, to make the difference.

“At the moment, we play too many games and are charged negatively on top of that because we lose them. So it’s difficult,” said Wenger who accepted that the Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City and the Premier League loss to the same side and by the same 3-0 scoreline at the Emirates four days later has been tough for his players.

In both matches against City, Arsenal fans were reminded by City how the Gunners once played in the very recent past. That the game has moved on and their team hasn’t is a great source of annoyance in N5.

“Look, I can understand the frustration. What can I say, I think the League Cup being situated in the middle of the season is always very difficult when you don’t win it. It brings a lot of negative waves. We were four times in the last five years in finals, we won three and lost one. But it brings a lot of negativity and on top of that, the game that was rearranged on Thursday night did not help us to compete today. The negativity of having lost the final, plus the fact that we are not in a fantastic position in the league, of course it hits us hard,” added Wenger.

Arsenal next travel to AC Milan for their Europa Cup last 16 first leg clash, while Sunday’s home Premier League game against Watford will make for further examining of the current fragility at the Emirates.