Arsenal 1-2 Brighton: Gunners Lose Ground on Top Four Qualification
Final Result: Arsenal 1-2 Brighton (Odegaard 89′ | Trossard 29′, Mwepu 67′)
Arsenal XI (4-3-3): Ramsdale; Cedric, White, Gabriel, Xhaka; Sambi Lokonga, Smith-Rowe (Nketiah 62′), Odegaard; Saka, Martinelli (Pepe 74′) Lacazette
Following the 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace, Arsenal was expected to gain maximum points against Brighton, with their arch-rivals, Tottenham, gaining momentum with sights on the coveted fourth spot for Champions League qualification. Losing Kieran Tierney to a season ending injury, coupled with Nuno Taveres’ pathetic display, was a very bitter pill to swallow, but losing Thomas Partey to his recurrent thigh injury as well, made our already thin squad even thinner.
With the manager clearly lacking trust in Nuno Taveres, the only recognizable central midfielder, Granit Xhaka, was asked to deputise at left back, allowing Sambi Lokonga to fill in at midfield with Emile Smith-Rowe and Martin Odegaard playing ahead of him. Not to be critical of Nuno Taveres and Lokonga, but in all honesty, they are not ready for first team football at Arsenal. In the games they have managed to play, they have struggled so badly, and their performances were clear indications on why they have rotted on the bench all these weeks. Nuno’s inexperience was on show with the first Crystal Palace goal he ducked when he should have hit the deck for a clear free kick as he was impeded by Joachim Andersen. For the second goal at Palace, he was so far off from Gabriel that the team became exposed when Andersen’s pass found Jordan Ayew, so it was no surprise to see him yanked out at halftime.
Sambi Lokonga on the other hand, had a stinker yesterday, offering little or no protection to the backline in front of him, and he was found wanting as both goals conceded to Brighton came from similar positions at the edge of the box, where a certain Partey would have been on the prowl to mop up any opposition attack in his bid to do his job, which is providing defensive support to the team. Due to Taveres’ short comings, Xhaka was removed from the position where he would have provided support to the backline, leaving Lokonga to do a job he has shown he’s not capable of.
Odegaard’s brilliant drive turned out to be nothing more than a consolation, and with Tottenham destroying Aston Villa away, the Gunners are now three points behind Spurs with just a couple of games left to play. I know there is a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season, but losing at home to Brighton is a major setback and a big blow to our top four qualification hopes.
Let’s hope things work out for our good in the coming days and weeks ahead, as we play Southampton next before the game in hand against Chelsea.
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