Brighton 2 Arsenal 1

Dunk 75, Maupay 95, Pepe 68

Two Premier League games, two defeats inside four days, and a side seemingly unable to pull out of reverse. Arsenal may have been unbeaten in 2020 before lockdown, but their post lockdown re-emergence suggests more pain to follow. Having been swept away at the Etihad on Wednesday by Manchester City, they were castaway on the south coast despite taking the lead. Pepe, that 75m summer enigma produced what Arsenal fans had been expecting, a delicious curling effort to beat Mathew Ryan for the game’s opener. Neal Maupay had irked the Arsenal players with an unnecessarily robust first half challenge on Bernd Leno who had both hands on the ball ahead of the clattering.

 

Leno suffered a serious knee injury on landing and as he was stretchered off, pointed mpre than just an accusatory finger in the direction of Maupay as he left the field to be replaced by Emiliano Martinez. Having levelled through Lewis Dunk when a left sided cross caused panic in the Arsenal rear guard, the Gunners latest implosion was complete when Maupay lifted the ball over Martinez for Brighton’s second goal deep into stoppage time to claim a Premier League double over the north London side for the first time.

 

Matteo Guendouzi’s full time reaction to Maupay caused players from both sides needing to be kept apart, as clearly the scorer of Brighton’s winner was still the villain in getting Leno stretchered off in their eyes. Maupay revealed that he had apologised to Mikel Arteta at half time, a grand gesture, however his earlier clumsiness appears to have cost Arsenal the services of their number one goal keeper. Arsenal had been in good form prior to covid enforced three month break, and unless Arteta can remedy the situation in the short term, the long term re-building will become that much harder.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has one year left on his current contract, Bukayo Sako has yet to commit to a new one, while Mesut Ozil on a reported £300,000 a week can’t even get into the side. It is a mess, and the tragedy is that this mess has been allowed to happen by those above Arteta who were in place long before his appointment last December.

But the Gunners head coach accepted the consequences of the lacklustre display from his players at the Amex.

“Obviously after a defeat you want to put the next result straight away to winning. I think we did a lot of things today to win the game comfortably, but we haven’t competed like you have to compete in the Premier League. We gave first goal away and we lost a few important duels afterwards, so I think it’s all our fault.”

Arteta has been at pains to implement his philosophy, and with their unbeaten Premier League run prior to lockdown, results suggested that his message was being heard. But now something outside of his, and football’s hands has derailed that message.

“It’s about how you compete in a Premier League match and it’s for 100 minutes in this case. It’s for every ball, it’s for every action and the moment you lose attention, the opponent is going to punish you. It’s not the first time it has happened and if you want to win football games consistently at this level, it’s a must and it’s a non-negotiable,” said Arteta.

On the ugly scenes at full time, Arteta reflected of his players frustrations after his side had “thrown the game away.”

“I don’t know, I haven’t see the action. I’ve seen a lot of players getting together but I don’t know what happened. It’s the frustration because we’ve thrown the game away and that’s a reaction that can happen but I always believe that a player has no intention to get someone else injured.

“I think when you lose two games in a row that hardest thing to do is to lift the players up and believe again in what we are doing. The context of the last game against Man City and this one is completely different. I am much more upset today because I know the accident that happened against City but the accident today was provoked by us and it’s unacceptable.”

Arsenal travel to Southampton next Thursday for their third consecutive Premier League away fixture.