The defenders were once again the culprits as Arsenal extended their winless streak with a 2-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday.
Freddie Ljungberg suffered a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion in his first game in charge of Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners looked clueless at the back, often failing to restrict the likes of Aaron Mooy and Neal Maupay from making in-roads across the final third.
The home side did look promising at times with their offensive game. But, the lack of an inspiring figure, coupled with the absence of a real leader at the back saw them concede two needless goals, one of which was scored by Maupay late in the game. The Frenchman’s late header helped Brighton seal all three points.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we run the rule over this Arsenal side as they extend their winless run at the Emirates to four games in all competition for the first time since 2012.
Bernd Leno: 8/10
Leno has had a pretty good campaign so far and it was his heroics last night that stopped Arsenal from conceding more goals. The German was solid and asserted his dominance quite well inside his own box. However, it was the lack of support from his defensive teammates that led to Leno letting in two goals.
Hector Bellerin: 3/10
Bellerin looked clueless for the most part of the game. He struggled to take on defenders and was stopped whenever he tried to march forward with the ball. It was a one-sided contest between him and Aaron Mooy, with the Australian causing a lot of danger down the right flank – something Bellerin failed to prevent.
The Spaniard should have made better use of his pace to exploit the slow Dan Burn on the far side. But, he was unable to do so.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 4/10
It was yet another disappointing defensive display from the Greek international, who failed to provide any solidity at the back. He evidently struggled to keep up with the tricky Aaron Connolly throughout the game while his defending from set-pieces was beyond awful.
David Luiz: 3/10
By far the worst player on the pitch, David Luiz was the culprit when Arsenal conceded the second goal. The Brazilian unexpectedly kept losing physicals duels with Maupay and failed to provide any sort of leadership or motivation to the Arsenal backline.
It is a sad sight to see such an experienced defender making amateur mistakes. And this is something Arsenal need to figure out if they are to solve their defensive problems. Omitting Luiz from the starting lineup might not be a bad idea.
Sead Kolasinac: 6/10
Certainly performed better than his defensive teammates. He was quite tenacious in his tackles and marched forward numerous times, on the left flank. Not to mention, the Bosnian combined pretty well with the Arsenal attackers, especially Mesut Ozil.
Granit Xhaka: 8/10
Granit Xhaka’s performance was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disastrous display from the Arsenal team against Brighton. The Swiss international seems to have rejuvenated himself after getting in trouble with the fans earlier in the season.
Xhaka looked comfortable with the ball at his feet and his passing was top-notch. He notably provided some delicious diagonal balls to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang down the right-hand side, channeling his inner Andrea Pirlo. Defensively, he could have done a little better preventing the Brighton players from threading the ball towards Maupay and Connolly.
Lucas Torreira: 7/10
Often criticised for his lack of composure when playing in a withdrawn midfield role, Torreira showed exactly what he is capable of. The Uruguayan was extremely active throughout the game and covered a lot of ground. His tenacious tackles and commitment are sure to give Matteo Guendouzi a run for his money during the second half of the campaign.
Joe Willock: 5/10
Willock failed to make any real impact on the proceedings, often losing composure when he tried to thread the ball to attackers in the final third. He did, however, operate as the ball-carrier for Arsenal in the first-half before being taken off during the restart.
Mesut Ozil: 6/10
A mixed performance from the German, who, at times, helped Arsenal create a few opening in the first half. He had an excellent understanding with his fellow attackers, which led to the Gunners being more lucid going forward. But, he just wasn’t involved enough to actually make a telling difference.
Despite that, Ozil definitely seems like a better option than Nicolas Pepe as far as creativity is concerned. It will be interesting to see if he keeps starting for Arsenal when Dani Ceballos returns to full fitness.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
Aubameyang produced a matured attacking display on Thursday. He was willing to track back and switch positions, making Arsenal more versatile in the final third. For instance, he partnered Alexandre Lacazette at first. But, during defensive phases, he supported Ozil, with Willock dropping in deeper.
That being said, Aubameyang failed to breach the Brighton backline despite looking menacing whenever he had the ball.
Alexandre Lacazette: 7/10
Lacazette looked frustrated as usual when he struggled to find the sight of goal. He was denied any space and time by the Brighton defenders for large parts of the game. The Frenchman wasn’t involved much either and failed to test Mat Ryan before making way for Gabriel Martinelli late in the game.
Nicolas Pepe: 6/10
Pepe made an instant impact after coming on as a second-half substitute for Arsenal. His pace on the flanks made life difficult for Burn. It also forced Mooy to drop deeper and support his full-back, at times.
However, the Ivorian’s impact soon faded after Arsenal had initially restored the lead. And in the end, he was barely able to breach the Brighton backline.
Kieran Tierney: 6/10
Replaced Kolasinac during the final phase of the game and had a rough start to the proceedings. However, it was his dangerous cross that could have led to the second equaliser had it not been for an excellent save by Ryan during the dying embers of the game.
Gabriel Martinelli: N/A
Martinelli did well to direct a header goalwards despite the presence of three strong Brighton defenders. Unfortunately, he was denied by Ryan, who palmed it away.