In a week, Arsenal claimed their second win, and it was Alexandre Lacazette, a goal scorer from the Blues victory spot, who made way as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned. And the captain was used as a center-forward in an unusual move this season, with 19-year-olds Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka holding their places following strong results against Chelsea.
Result: Brighton 0-1 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 29 December 2020
Venue: AMEX Stadium
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Aubameyang
Subs: Runarsson, Mustafi, Cedric, Maitland-Niles, Ceballos, Pepe, Willock, Nketiah, Lacazette
After a good Bukayo Saka assist as Arsenal scored a 1-0 victory over Brighton at the AMEX Stadium, Alex Lacazette made an immediate impact off the bench scoring the winner.
The home side had the best of the first half, but after the break, the Gunners were much sharper and squandered three decent chances before breaching the 66-minute deadlock.
Having found a winning formula on Boxing Day, Mikel Arteta decided not to shuffle his pack too much. Alex Lacazette dropped to the bench with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, fully recovered from a calf problem, replacing him. Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe, both praised for their energetic performances on Boxing Day, retained their places.
As Brighton kicked-off, Aubameyang chased after the ball at full speed. He didn’t get anywhere near it, but if he was trying to set an example, it was promising. Unfortunately, it was about the best thing our captain did over the course of an incredibly turgid 45 minutes.
Both sides enjoyed long spells of possession in the opening stages. There was lots of passing back and forth by the respective defenses but cutting edge was sorely lacking. The Seagulls at least mustered a few attempts on goal – mostly capitalizing on Arsenal mistakes – in contrast, we didn’t test their keeper at all. The closest we came was a Xhaka free-kick fired over the bar.
Martinelli, Saka, and Smith Rowe – the three musketeers who led the charge against Chelsea – were completely nullified. Behind them, Elneny and Xhaka, faced with the imposing figure of Yves Bissouma, became increasingly error-prone. At one point the Egyptian was caught on the ball just outside the box and Macallister fired over. It was a let-off.
As the half wore on, the home side grew in confidence and was it not for smart defending by Smith Rowe, who stole a dangerous cross with a sliding challenge, and a Leno save to deny Jahanbakhsh, we might well have been down at the break.
Brighton had a strong claim for a penalty inside two minutes of the restart as Dunk when down in the box as a corner was played in. VAR had a look and decided nothing untoward had happened.
In 50 minutes we finally put together a move of note. On the break, Martinelli fed Saka down the left and he crossed for Aubameyang. Our striker connected the first time on the run but keeper Sanchez got his knee in the way and the ball went for a corner. Auba just stood in disbelief.
Saka went down in a heap with 15 minutes remaining and needed treatment from the medical team. He was in considerable pain and initially tried to play on before being replaced by Ceballos. Smith Rowe went out wide and the Spaniard took up the number 10 role.It was clear heading into the final 10 minutes that we were focused on defending what we had rather than pushing for a second. At one point, Bellerin found himself on the ball charging forward but when he looked up he realized there wasn’t another white shirt within 20-yards. He slowed things down and went for the corner flag.
For five minutes of stoppage, the game played out in almost the same way. Brighton had a majority of the ball and wanted to focus on crossing chances, but anything thrown at them was dealt with by Holding and Pablo Mari.
For the first time since September, six points in three days and consecutive wins in the table. So far, it has been a very solid festive season. On the 2nd of January, we go against West Bromwich Albion again. New Year’s Happy.