Arsenal 1 Brighton 2
Lacazette 50, Webster 36, Maupay 80

Woeful Arsenal continued their winless plight with a 2-1 humbling by Brighton in Freddie Ljungberg’s first home Premier League game as caretaker head coach. There was little to suggest that the Gunners were up for the fight in an opening 45 minutes which saw the visitors take the lead through Adam Webster. More disastrous defending from a corner enabling the Seagulls to have two chances to score, Webster lashing hone as a static Arsenal defence watched on. Joe Willock had an ideal chance to level, but saw his header saved by Matt Ryan. In truth, the lack of confidence, lack of urgency, lack of interest from a side who on paper should have come out firing was laid bare in an embarrassment of an effort. Ljugberg’s half time words would have stung, as five minutes after the re-start, Arsenal were level. Mesut Ozil’s corner was met at the near post by Alexandre Lacazette to head home on his 100th Arsenal game.

Brighton under Graham Potter have been a changed team, and the man who orchestrated Ostersunds Europa League win at the Emirates last season conjured up the same wizardry again. Rather than push on for a second goal at home, Arsenal sat back, and a back line which has wobbled all season duly complied again. Aaron Mooy’s cross was put on a plate for Neal Maupay to glance a header beyond Bernd Leno to restore the visitors lead. Arsenal had earlier seen David Luiz’s control and shot from a free-kick ruled out for offside by VAR. The linesman hadn’t raised his flag for the offside, however the check told otherwise.

Although Nicolas Pepe’s introduction did provide an element of a spark, there was to be no flame, the Gunners were firing blanks and the sparsely crowded Emirates seemed a miserable place. Another later leveller however was not to be. Gabriel Martinelli came on for the last 15 minutes, far too late for the talented 18 year old to have an impact, although his header almost caught Ryan off guard, but the Brighton ‘keeper was able to keep the ball out of his net.

As at half time, full time was met with boos, and rightly so. Arsenal have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 11 matches, since October’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth and remain winless in ten matches, their worst run since 1977. The Arsenal hierarchy will be alarmed at these stats, but will need too find a remedy once they have decided on their next manager. Any further dithering and the malaise will continue amongst a team who know that they have to do better.

Ljungberg identified why his team came up short.

“The main thing is we didn’t show up in the first half. We were very passive and we had a chat at half-time, made a tactical change and all of a sudden we looked like a team. For 20 minutes or so we really pushed them, scored goals and thought we could win the game, but VAR was correct. That’s how we have to play the whole game. I said to the players that you can’t give away a whole half to any team in the Premier League. That’s what we need to learn from.”

The former Gunners Invincible has had two games at the helm, the draw at Norwich after a decent start and this loss to Brighton, and those two matches have given him an indication of the task at hand with a set of players who can’t seem to find the right response.

“They look very short on confidence. In the first half they were scared to get the ball and a bit scored to move, they were just standing still. That’s something we need to talk about. They need to have a win, we need to dig out a win and get them some confidence. They can do it because they showed it in the beginning of the second half and they did it really well for 20 minutes. It’s hard to say that when you lose at home, but they were very good in that little spell.”

Arsenal next travel across the capital for a London derby at West Ham on Monday. That will prove to be a vital fixture for both sides, more so for the Gunners who teams know and have sensed have a fragile mentality at the moment.