Result: Brighton 2 – 1 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 20 June 2020
Venue: The Amex Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Saka, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
Subs: Martinez, Medley, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Ozil, Nelson, Martinelli, Nketiah
Arsenal lost 2-1 at the Amex in what was an largely uninspiring match that was punctuated by an awful injury for Bernd Leno.
Maupay’s cynical push on Leno caused the goalkeeper to land awkwardly in what seemed to be painul, long-term injury. It was the Gunners who responded first with an audacious goal that was the only bright moment of ability in a tepid game.
They conceded just minutes later to a corner and a bad day was rounded off with a last minute goal by Maupay to steal all 3 points for Brighton.
After the high profile absentees of the game against Manchester City, we saw some familiar names on the team sheet as Pepe and Lacazette returned to the starting line-up while Ozil, who didn’t even make the team previously due to “tactical reasons”, started on the bench.
The two forwards joined Aubameyang and Saka in a very attacking line-up that hoped to blow the opposition away as they struggled to put bodies in central defence – Holding, still feeling his way back from his ACL injury, filling in for his injured and suspended teammates.
The offensive front four went at it straight from the whistle. Aubameyang almost scored within the first minute. A well-placed through ball from Guendouzi put Pepe through the right wing. The Ivorian whipped in a teasing cross but Aubameyang couldn’t connect with it cleanly when he made an acrobatic overhead kick that went wide.
A very fascinating sight on field was the versatile Bukayo Saka who was constantly on the move as a floating no. 8, no. 10 and left-sided midfielder. It was this blur of movement which made him hard to pick up. The confusion in the Brighton midfield allowed him to saunter up with the ball and strike with his weaker right foot which unfortunately crashed off the crossbar on the 7th minute.
The match continued to be scrappy as both teams struggled to find a rhythm due to constant fouling on Pepe and Saka without much recourse from the officials.
It took until the 30th minute for the next big opportunity. Saka found space down the left to cross the ball. It bounced on route to Lacazette which meant the Frenchman had to improvise and pull off a diving header which was well saved by Mathew Ryan.
Just a few minutes later, Brighton’s niggly challenges finally produced a major injury. The victim was Leno who landed awkwardly after a mid-air collision with Maupay. The push by Maupay was totally unnecessary as the striker was not close to the ball when it was caught by Leno and we can only wish the German a speed recovery in what looked like a major knee injury judging from his haunting screams.
The injury must have rallied the troops as Arsenal started at a quick tempo and it was Aubameyang who hit the target within minutes of the whistle after a quick break away. The captain inched closer towards producing a goal though he was caught (just) offside a few minutes later when Saka put him through on goal against a high Brighton line.
Niggly Brighton tackles and a lack of fluency continued to plague Arsenal through the half but it was a moment of real quality that allowed the Gunners to draw first blood on 67 minutes. Pepe received the ball in the inside right channel, cut in on his preferred left foot and curled an unstoppable shot into the top corner. World class stuff by Pepe, 1-0.
It didn’t take long for Arsenal to squander their lead as Brighton hit back via a corner. Brighton whipped in a low ball that Arsenal struggled to clear. Holding’s clearance bounced off an onrushing Dunk for it to ricochet into the net for a Brighton equaliser. 1-1.
It became a game of attrition with Brighton stifling Arsenal through multiple fouls as both teams saw out the clock. However, the men in blue stole all three points with a last gasp goal courtesy of a cheeky chipped goal by Maupay. 2-1.
The Arsenal players didn’t take the result too well at the final whistle with many confronting Maupay for the injury he caused to Leno.
The result sees Arsenal’s European ambition hit another snag as the Gunners were unable to put in a decent performance against relegation strugglers.