Arsenal (0) 0 Brighton and Hove Albion (0) 3
Emirates Stadium, Drayton Park, London N5 1BU
Sunday, 14th May 2023. Kick-off time: 4.30pm
(4-3-3) Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, Jakob Kiwior, Gabriel Magalhães, Kieran Tierney; Martin Ødegaard, (Jorge Luiz Frello Filho) Jorginho, Granit Xhaka; Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli.
Substitutes: Thomas Partey, Emile Smith-Rowe, Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding, Leandro Trossard, Fabio Vieira, Reiss Nelson, Matt Turner, Reuell Walters.
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 42%
Referee: Andy Madley
Assistant Referees: Constantine Hatzidakis, Nick Hopton
Fourth Official: Darren England
VAR Team at Stockley Park: VAR Peter Bankes; AVAR Wade Smith
Nothing changes at this stage of the season; we have to win, nothing else will do. Of course, we have to win all of our three remaining matches in order to have a chance of staying in the hunt for the Premiership title. Today’s match against Brighton and Hove Albion will be a difficult one, but it is still a game that we are more than able to win, and with home advantage today, we must surely be favourites to pick up all three points at full time.
The visitors started off the proceedings in a white-hot atmosphere here at the Emirates this afternoon, and within the first minute, our captain took a ball in the face and play was stopped for a little while, whilst he received treatment, composed himself and got back into the match. Pascal Gross conceded a corner as he whacked an attempted first-time pass out of play, but Gabriel Martinelli’s delivery was headed away by Moises Caicedo, and then Lewis Dunk hit a clearance straight at Bukayo Saka, who quickly found Martin Ødegaard but his backheel inside the penalty area went askew. There was a few really heavy challenges already, the latest one was by Moises Caicedo as he sent Gabriel Martinelli sprawling across the pitch. Aaron Ramsdale picked up a long pass from Billy Gilmour that went astray, and a couple of minutes later, he acrobatically saved a strong shot from Julio Enciso in order to prevent a certain goal. After a quarter of an hour’s play, Martin Ødegaard hit a superb shot from outside the penalty area which went inches wide of the post. Gabriel Martinelli was unable to continue as his injury got the better of him, so Leandro Trossard replaced him after just nineteen minutes of the match being played. Jorginho went to the floor after a tackle by Evan Ferguson, and although the match was quite physical, we were keeping the pressure up on the visitors. On the half hour, former Brighton man Leandro Rossard cut inside the visitors’ defence, but his shot flew skywards over the bar from close range, unfortunately. Pervis Estupinan fouled Bukayo Saka and received a yellow card for his troubles, and from the resulting free-kick from Leandro Trossard, Granit Xhaka headed it wide of the goal. As half-time approached, frustration started to creeep in, and the match started to get rather scrappy. In the five minutes injury time, after some pressure on the Brighton goal, Bukayo Saka hit the ball wide from ten yards, and a minute or so later, our captain fired a shot in from close range in on the left which went narrowly wide, just before referee Andy Madley brought the first half to an end.
Arsenal kicked off an important forty-five minutes, and immediately brought pressure to bear down on the Brighton goal. However, against the run of play, the visitors took the lead with a messy goal from Julio Enciso six minutes after the restart. Shortly afterwards, Granit Xhaka and Jorginho were replaced by Reiss Nelson and Thomas Partey, and after a chance by Reiss Nelson that was unlucky, the visitors started to apply pressure on the Arsenal goal which we managed to stop. The match seemed to swing backwards and forwards for a while and Martin Ødegaard slipped a lovely ball towards Leandro Trossard but his crisp shot was well saved by goalkeeper Jason Steele. The more we try to score the equaliser, the more we are frustrated, and the visitors can sense that, and are passing the ball around accordingly, as they feel that time is on their side now. Mikel Arteta made a double substitution with Eddie Nketiah and Emile Smith-Rowe replacing Gabriel Jesus and Martin Ødegaard with twelve minutes of the match remaining. Into the final ten minutes and there are boos and jeers from our fans as Alexis Mac Allister drops to the floor and needs treatment, which looks to the vast majority of the crowd that he is time wasting. With six minutes of the game remaining, Gabriel went down in the penalty area, and we had a penalty appeal turned down. However, a minute or so later, Deniz Undav scored a second goal for the visitors, after some messy play by us outside the penalty area. As the match started to move towards its conclusion, the visitors grabbed a third in stoppage time through Pervis Estupinan which finished us off, it has to be said. An extremely disappointing end to an important match for us, and as such, it is now quite possible for Manchester City to win the Premiership title next weekend.
In this “must win” game for us, we played sluggishly at times, and it looked like we lacked the necessary energy to win the match. However, with just two shots on target throughout the whole game, we had ourselves to blame today. The fans were leaving early, and there is a mood of glum resignation around the stadium now. We ran out of steam in the second half, and although for periods of the first half our play was good, in the second half we appeared to just crumble and let the visitors score their goals. Such a shame, as when the match started there was hope in the stadium that appeared to transfer to the players, but as the game progressed, we simply ran out of gas. Let’s see how they pick themselves up for the Forest match next Saturday afternoon.
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: Nottingham Forest at The City Ground on Saturday, 20th May at 5.30pm (Premier League). Be there, if you can. 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