Arsenal will look to continue their unbeaten run when they host Brighton & Hove Albion at the Emirates on Sunday.
Gameweek 7 of the Premier League will conclude on Sunday, following which club football will take a fortnight-long international break. At the Emirates, Arsenal will be aiming to enter the latest international break with a lot of positive momentum as they host Brighton in Sunday’s early kick-off.
The Gunners have shaken off a tough start to the season, going unbeaten in September across all competitions to be on the cusp of a place in the Top 4. Arsene Wenger’s men come into this match on the back of an impressive 4-2 win at BATE Borisov in the Europa League.
Brighton, on the other hand, have made a steady start to life in the Premier League, winning two of their first six matches to be in the lower mid table region. Chris Hughton’s men, too, come into Sunday’s match on the back of a successful outing as they beat Newcastle United 1-0 last weekend.
The two sides last met in the FA Cup fourth round three seasons ago, with Arsenal battling hard to grab a 3-2 win enroute to winning the competition. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Arsene Wenger has a number of injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of Brighton on Sunday. The Arsenal boss could, in fact, be without the services of as many as seven key first-team players due to various fitness problems.
Calum Chambers (hip) and Danny Welbeck (groin) are recovering from their respective short-term injuries, while Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) are the long-term absentees. Alex Iwobi continues to remain a doubt as he struggles with a knee injury.
Also doubtful for the match is Laurent Koscielny, who has picked up a minor Achilles injury and will face a late fitness test to determine his availability for the match. But, Mesut Ozil will be unavailable due to a continued problem with inflammation in his knee, and will likely be back post the international break.
In the absence of the German playmaker, Aaron Ramsey could continue reprising the inside forward role that he was deployed in against West Bromwich Albion. Koscielny’s possible absence could see Rob Holding make his first start in the league since the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool.
Possible Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Monreal; Bellerin, Elneny, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Sanchez; Lacazette
Brighton & Hove Albion
Like his counterpart in the Arsenal dugout, Chris Hughton has several roster issues on his hands as well ahead of the trip to the Emirates. The Brighton boss could be deprived of as many as five first-team players due to pressing suspension and injury concerns.
Sam Baldock (calf), Steve Sidwell (back) and Beram Kayal (leg) are all on the return trail, but Sunday’s game comes too soon for the trio. Glenn Murray, though, could be in contention to feature for the first time this season after completing his recovery from an ankle injury.
The major blow to Brighton, though, is the absence of joint-top scorer Tomer Hemed, who has been slapped with a three-match ban for a stamp on Newcastle defender DeAndre Yedlin last weekend. If Murray is unable to prove his fitness, Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown could step in to lead the line for the Seagulls.
In Hemed’s absence, the bulk of the goalscoring burden will rest on the shoulders of summer signing Pascal Gross, who has made a strong start for his new club this season. The German forward, alongside Anthony Knockaert will look to attack a potentially weaker Arsenal defence to possible grab a shock away result.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross; Brown
- This is the first Premier League meeting between Arsenal and Brighton & Hove Albion. The visitors though, have never won an away match against the North London club in six previous attempts (D1 L5).
- Victory on Sunday would give Arsene Wenger a Premier League win against 45 difference clubs, which would be an outright record for a manager in the competition. He is currently level with Sir Alex Ferguson.
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 31 Premier League matches against newly promoted sides (W26 D5), since losing 1-2 to QPR in March, 2012.
- The last newly promoted outfit to win at the Emirates, though, were Newcastle United, coincidentally managed by Chris Hughton, in November, 2010.
- Alexandre Lacazette could become the first Arsenal player to score in his first four home league games since Jackie Henderson in 1958, if he finds the back of the net on Sunday.
1. Arsenal Clean Sheet – No @1.80
2. Alexandre Lacazette to score anytime @1.72
1. Sead Kolasinac to get booked @5.00
Player To Watch
Ramsey has been an enigma all through his career at Arsenal as doubts continue to remain over what his best position is in the side. Deployed in just about every position in attack and midfield by Arsene Wenger, apart from the role of a striker, the Welshman continues to be rotated around to this day.
In Mesut Ozil’s absence last week, he was thrust into the advanced, inside forward role by Wenger, and Ramsey took to the new position with aplomb. With the German playmaker ruled out of Sunday’s match, Ramsey is expected to feature in the role once again.
Free of any defensive burden, the player will have the license to roam free and find pockets of space, something he relishes and excels at, while playing for Wales. Thus after West Brom last week, Ramsey could pose a big attacking threat to Brighton this time around and a strong individual outing could pave the way for fluid attacking by Arsenal.
Arsenal 2-0 Brighton & Hove Albion
Arsenal have turned their fortunes around enormously since a startlingly poor start to the season in August. Unbeaten since the previous international break, the Gunners would like to enter the latest one with some positive form and momentum.
Brighton, though, have not been an easy team to break down in any of their first six matches in the Premier League so far, and will be a tough nut to crack for Arsene Wenger and co. But, with the majority of the side fresh and raring to go, the hosts will have enough firepower to ease past Brighton.
The home form of Alexandre Lacazette, in particular, is a major positive and he is likely to continue his goalscoring ways at the Emirates. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Wenger’s men.