Boos ring out after frustrating Arsenal beaten by Brighton

Gunners leave it too late after listless display

Saturday, 9th April — By Tom Foot at the Emirates

arsenal emriates

Fa Premier League 

ARSENAL 1 (Odegaard 88)

BRIGHTON 2 (Trossard 29, Mwepu 66) 

ARSENAL’S Champions League hopes hang in the balance after a listless loss to lowly Brighton at the Emirates.

The Gunners failed to respond to the heavy defeat against Crystal Palace and now appear to be in full panic mode.

They were undone from two side-footed goals from basic cut backs and struggled to create any slick passing attacks until the last five minutes.

Martin Odegaard scored a deflected long-ranger before a phase of injury time pandemonium when the Gunners finally forced a string of saves and from actually looked like scoring.

But it was all too little too late.

Brighton’s Leandro Trossard had what seemed like an age to sweep in the opener.

He side-footed past Aaron Ramsdale after arriving in the box completely unmarked to latch onto a cutback from Enock Mwepu.

The lively Mwepu had flown down the left side unmarked in a channel that was supposed to be covered by Granit Xhaka.

He was playing left back because of injury to Kieran Tierney and Tavares being seemingly out of favour after his bungling against Palace.

Frustration in the stadium was already bubbling over just before half time when Gabriel Martinelli appeared to head in an equaliser.

He ran to the dug out celebrating wildly. But the computer said no.

The VAR took five minutes to check for an offside, which appeared to hinge on whether Gabriel headed the ball back across the face of goal or the defender.

Either way it was a very tight call, but the delay caused a huge commotion in the ground.

The boos at half time felt partly for the delay but mainly directed at the home side after a limp performance.

After the crushing defeat to Palace on Monday, fans would have expected a rip roaring start.

But instead they saw a disjointed and hesitant start with attacking players seemingly struggling to adapt to a very basic tweak to the formation.

Brighton looked hungrier in midfield and there was a sense that this might be the telling factor in what was always going to be a tense affair.

The first meaningful attack for Arsenal came after 20 minutes when Bukayo Saka and Odegaard got in each other’s way in the box.

Gabriel headed into the side netting from close range before Odegaard tested Sanchz with a low strike.

Mwepu could have made it two just before half time after some comedy defending. But he shanked well wide.

The second half started off like the first. Sami Lokonga won a free kick, just outside the D, in perfect range for Odegaard.

But Cedric curled it straight at the middle of the wall.

A sumptuous side-footed half volley from Mwepu put Brighton two-up with 25 minutes left to play.

Once again it was a basic cut-back that outfoxed the Arsenal defence.

Other a late rally with a few minutes to go, there had been no effective pressing and the attacking play was all too timid, given the opposition.

There is not enough movement up front from Alexandre Lacazette who was much of a non-entity for a lot of the game.

Another defeat. Another worryingly tired performance.

But Arsenal are not dead yet as the burden of pressure now shifts onto Spurs as Manchester United’s campaign withers away with defeat to Everton.

Arsenal: Ramsdale, Soares, White, Gabriel, Xhaka, Lokonga, Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe (Nketiah 61), Martinelli (Pepe 73), Lacazette
Substitutes not used: Leno, Elneny, Holding, Swanson, Ogungbo, Hutchinson

Brighton: Sanchez, Cucurella, Dunk, Bissouma (Lallana 74), Mac Allister, Trossard, Mwepu (Lamptey 76), Grob, Welbeck, Calcedo, Veltman
Subs not used: Steele, Webster, Maupay, Alzate, March, Offiah, Sarmiento

Tickets sold 60,017

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