Arsenal will seek to rekindle their winning momentum when they lock horns with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Arsenal endured a miserable return to their 2019/20 Premier League campaign in midweek when they lost 3-0 to Manchester City. The defeat ended their record of being the only English team to remain unbeaten in this calendar year. But more importantly, it also ended the one-game leverage they had against their rivals.
However, on Saturday, Mikel Arteta’s men will look to rekindle their positive run of form as they travel to Falmer Stadium to face Brighton & Hove Albion. It could be a must-win game for Arsenal in their bid to secure qualification for Europa League football next season, especially with both Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur playing out a draw in their recent game on Friday.
On the flip side, Brighton will be looking to salvage at least a point as they aim to get out of the relegation scrap. The Seagulls are currently 15th in the league title, leading relegation-threatened Bournemouth by just two points.
It means Graham Potter’s men are in danger of being dragged into the relegation zone if the results go in favour of the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham United. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this high-stake encounter in the Premier League this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Brighton & Hove Albion
Unlike Arsenal, Brighton & Hove Albion had last played back in March, when they drew with Wolverhampton Wanderers. Therefore, there are uncertainties regarding the starting lineup Graham Potter will name heading into this fixture.
The Brighton coach did, however, confirm on Tuesday that he is set to have a fully-fit squad available for the Arsenal game, although Jose Izquierdo could still miss out with a knee injury.
But, at the same time, minimal changes are expected in the core of the attack, with Leandro Trossard and Solly March likely to accompany the main centre-forward Neal Maupay. Pascal Gross should provide Potter with another creative option out wide.
In midfield, Davy Propper is a guaranteed starter, having enjoyed immense success at the Falmer Stadium this season. He could be partnered by Yves Bissouma and the eccentric Aaron Mooy at the base of Brighton’s 4-3-3 setup.
And finally, in defence, Lewis Dunk and Adam Webster are likely starters at the heart of the Brighton backline, with Martin Montoya and Dan Burn covering the wider areas of the pitch. Mat Ryan will be stationed in goal for the hosts.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ryan; Montoya, Webster, Dunk, Burn; Bissouma, Propper, Mooy; March, Maupay, Trossard
Arteta will hope to have several key players who missed the last game back for this encounter, although Mesut Ozil is still unlikely to return to the setup. The German wasn’t included in the squad against Manchester City, and the manager has failed to come up with a definitive answer regarding his availability this weekend.
Ozil’s absence should allow the young Joe Willock to retain his place in the attacking midfield slot. Only this time, he could be partnered by the more accomplished attacking duo of Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette, who are set to replace Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah, respectively.
Saka, however, could be an option at left-back, with Arteta likely to give Kieran Tierney a breather. Sead Kolasinac is another option, but the fact that the Bosnian has played very little football this year makes him a risky choice for Arsenal. Same cannot be said for Hector Bellerin, who has been a regular this year and should retain his place at right-back.
In central defence, David Luiz was a disaster in midweek and was rightly sent off. He is suspended for this fixture while Pablo Mari picked up a serious injury, meaning Arsenal could now have to rely on the vulnerable defensive combination of Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos this time around.
Granit Xhaka was another who picked up an unfortunate injury in midweek and should be replaced by Dani Ceballos, who would partner Matteo Guendouzi in the double pivot of Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 setup. Meanwhile, the Arsenal attack should be led by Lacazette, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang starting on the left flank once again.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Saka; Guendouzi, Ceballos; Pepe, Willock, Aubameyang; Lacazette
- Brighton & Hove Albion are looking to complete their first league double over Arsenal.
- Arsenal are winless in four away league games against Brighton (D1 L3), last winning in April 1981.
- Brighton are the only side in the top four English divisions yet to win a league game in 2020; they have drawn six matches and lost three. In fact, the Seagulls have won just one of their past eight home league fixtures (D4 L3).
- Defeat at Manchester City on Wednesday ended Arsenal’s unbeaten league start to the calendar year (W4 D4). The Gunners have won only two of their 14 away league fixtures this season (D8 L4).
- Ninth-placed Arsenal have lost only one of their 17 league fixtures against teams currently below them in the table (W8 D8). That defeat was against Brighton.
Player to Watch
Aubameyang didn’t have the best of outings against Manchester City in midweek. But, the Gabonese international will be raring to get back into scoring form, especially with the help of some of Arsenal’s star players including the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Alexandre Lacazette.
However, the fact that the ex-Borussia Dortmund star could be set to return to the left-wing slot makes it an intriguing clash not just for the striker but also for the Arsenal fans. And with Lacazette misfiring in front of goal this year, the onus will be on Aubameyang to provide the goods in front of goal.
At the same time, the 31-year-old is likely to face stiff fortification from the Brighton backline, which will be keen on keeping the pacy attacker at bay as they look to get out of the relegation scrap this week.
Brighton & Hove Albion 0-1 Arsenal
Every hint suggests that this could turn out to be a closely contested figure at the Falmer Stadium this weekend. The underdogs Brighton haven’t played in a long-time and could find it difficult to remain resilient throughout the ninety minutes.
At the same time, Arsenal are not in the best of form, following a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City. But, due to the sheer quality of players that the north London giants have in long supply, we expect them to seal a narrow win in this fixture.