Brighton and Hove Albion (0) 2 Arsenal (0) 1
AMEX Stadium, Village Way, Brighton BN1 9BL
Saturday, 20th June 2020. Kick-off time: 3.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Sead Kolašinac; Mattéo Guendouzi, Bukayo Saka; Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pépé, Alexandre Lacazette; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Emiliano Martínez, Kieran Tierney, Zak Medley, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Mesut Özil, Eddie Nketiah, Gabriel Martinelli.
Scorers: Nicolas Pépé (68 mins)
Yellow Cards: Alexandre Lacazette
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 59%
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: A maximum of 300 attendees due to UK government coronavirus restructions
After the very forgettable match in Manchester three days ago, we need to reassert ourselves in the most positive of all ways, by winning this match on the south coast today. Nothing less than a win will do, not just for the points that we so desperately need, but for the confidence that it will give our fine bunch of fellows.
If there was any doubt in our minds about the boys’ intent for today’s match, they were surely dispelled as early as the seventh minute, when Bukayo Saka hit the Brighton crossbar with a clever shot that was worthy of a goal in anyone’s book. This match became a real slow burn quite early on, when Arsenal played the patience game very well; in fact, by the half hour mark we dominated possession and had four shots on the home side’s goal with very little to concern Bernd Leno at the other end. The game settled down quite well in our favour, as the general confidence in Arsenal grew as the minutes ticked by. Ten minutes from half time, Bernd Leno landed awkwardly on his right leg whilst neutralising a long ball, and it looked like his knee took his full weight after a highly controversial challenge from Neal Maupay; unfortunately, he was unable to continue, so Emiliano Martínez stepped up to take over the goalkeeping duties for the rest of the match. Almost immediately he was called into action when Aaron Mooy blasted a shot at the Arsenal goal, which our goalie covered extremely well. The match settled down, and in the five minutes injury time (which was added because of Bernd Leno’s injury) at the end of the first half, we were desperately unlucky not to score when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was tackled by Adam Webster just in front of goal after playing a lovely one-two with Alexandre Lacazette, which ultimately meant that we went into the break with the scores even.
Shortly after the restart, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw a weakness in the Brighton defence, and sneaked a left-footed shot in on the Brighton goal, which Mat Ryan easily pushed away. Arsenal started to push up into the Brighton penalty area more and more now, with the excellent Bukayo Saka being unlucky not to score with a left-footed shot that went narrowly wide. Although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did get the ball in the back of the net, it was cancelled out due to a narrow offside decision, confirmed by the the beastly and inconsistent VAR team at Stockley Park. Emiliano Martínez made a superb point-blank save from Neal Maupay, and in the following few minutes, Brighton started to put more pressure on our defence. A few moments later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was again unfortunate not to score with a fierce left-footed shot, and literally out of nowhere, on the sixty-eighth minute, a superb left-footed shot by Nicolas Pépé sailed past Mat Ryan into the Brighton net to put us into the lead with a truly world-class goal. As often happens, the losing side comes back with purpose, and it was no different here. Just seven minutes later, a terrible mix-up in the Arenal defence after a short corner, saw Lewis Dunk redress the balance. Now we have a game. Young Eddie Nketiah replaced Alexandre Lacazette on the seventy-eighth minute; Arsenal applied more pressure on the Brighton defence, and although we left ourselves open, the players tried desperately to score the second goal of the match. With four minutes left, Mikel Arteta brought on Kieran Tierney, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson for Bukayo Saka, Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pépé. With just seconds left, a horrendous turn of events on our right-hand side led to Neal Maupay flicking the ball past Emiliano Martínez to score the winner for the home side, which led to unsavoury scenes when the final whistle blew just seconds later.
How can it be? One-nil up, two-one down, a catalogue of schoolboy errors that made matters worse with no obvious leaders out there on the pitch. And with 59 per cent overall possession also. Along with all this, we also have a growing injury list that is concerning, to say the least. The attitude of some of the players has to be brought into question, and sooner rather than later, Mikel Arteta has to reshuffle this pack, and get some new players into the club. This is serious stuff now. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as this season is going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Our next match: Southampton at St. Mary’s Stadium, Britannia Rd, Southampton SO14 5FP, on Thursday, 25th June at 6.00pm (Premier League). Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.