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After beating Chelsea in what was certainly the best match of Arsenal’s season so far, they find themselves in a position to possibly win two straight Premier League matches for the first time since their opening two match against Fulham and West Ham.
After Arsenal’s win and yesterday’s Aston Villa-Chelsea draw, many fans are already finding their eyes scan up the table. Yes, it’s true that if Arsenal get all three points they will be just six points behind Chelsea, but to do that, they will have to go through Brighton, an opponent that may seem easy on paper, but is one that has had Arsenal’s number time and time again.
@Orbinho on Twitter tweeted that Arsenal’s worst win percentage comes from, you guessed it, Brighton. A miserable 17% win percentage, which is actually 11% worse than their 28% win percentage against Liverpool and Manchester United.
Not only do Arsenal not win against Brighton, they also tend not to draw. The stat really hits home when you see that Arsenal have a 50% loss percentage against Brighton. That’s right, half the games Arsenal play in the Premier League against Brighton result in zero points. So, in my opinion, Arsenal need to just keep their head down and string together a handful of wins before they starting eying up 6th place on the table.
Coming into the Chelsea match, Arteta commented that the following week would present the team with a lot of defining moments. Now that they’ve passed their first test, the opportunity to make a run of this with wins against Brighton and West Brom is here.
What makes Brighton an tough side, and will make this match an interesting one, lies in Brighton’s strengths. They sit low in the table, but they are a side that looks to play really nice football. They want to get on the ball and possess, they have quality in Maupay, Trossard, Bissouma, Lallana, and of course, Danny Welbeck, and they look to aggressively attack down the right.
Why is that last one interesting? Simply because Arsenal look to attack down the left. It will be very interesting to keep an eye on who is winning that side of the pitch and note if any team alters their tactics because of this.
The problem for Brighton, much like Arsenal at the moment, is they produce very little. Both teams average about 1.1 goals per match, both teams average between 3 and 4 shots on target per match, they are within a percent or two of one another when it comes to average possession, however Brighton do create a few more big chances than the Gunners. As good as Graham Potter has them playing and as cohesive of a unit as they may be, their issue could simply be lacking enough quality.
Given the season’s results, however, Arsenal have no room to be snobby or judge quality. They may have the bigger names and wages on paper, as Matteo Guendouzi so eloquently pointed out, but that means little when you are chronically underperforming. This underperforming led Arteta to make a few changes against Chelsea and look to inject a bit of youth and hunger into the side.
Arteta was asked if he saw a blueprint in the Chelsea game that he can use moving forward. “I’ve seen a lot of things that I really liked from the start. One of them is the courage that we have to play and the energy that we showed and how aggressive we were with the ball and the energy that the team was transmitting in a football match.”
“We were very direct, we were playing forward and we were really attacking. There was a lot of movement, the spaces were always occupied and we were a threat in behind.”
And if you thought that Arteta only turned to this selection because of the injuries and illnesses, he has an answer for that too.
“Well, it’s not that we had to play them. We had enough senior players on the bench that could play. We decided to play them because they fully deserved to do that and now we have to manage the games, how everybody is recovering and what the game requires in relation to the opponent. We will see. They did really well against Chelsea, I’m really happy for them and let’s move on and see what the next game requires.”
The younger players were great, the plan came off perfectly, and Arsenal were able to keep the margins of their contest with Chelsea tight while capitalizing on the the good chances they were creating. Players like Martinelli, Saka, and Emile Smith Rowe were crucial in leading the press and upping the team’s overall tempo. It was exactly what Arsenal fans have been begging for, but what does it mean for the older pros?
“I think it’s a message within the squad that everybody is important here, everybody is here to contribute and everybody is useful,” said Arteta. “As a manager, whether you are a young or a senior player, everybody is here to contribute and I think it’s a great message for everybody that when we rely on them, we can rely on them and we don’t have to have any doubts about them.”
To be honest, not many fans really mind at this point what kind of message this sends to the older players. If anything, it’s a message that needed to be sent loud, clear, and early, but better late than never.
Last time out, Arsenal lost to Brighton, Leno got hurt, Guendouzi got sent off, and it proved to be one of the more embarrassing matches under Mikel up to that point. Plenty of opportunity for revenge on the line and and 3 points would go a long ways to keeping this training rolling. 2 wins in 2? Haven’t said that in a long while.
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