Brighton and Hove Albion (1) 1 Arsenal (1) 1
American Express Community Stadium, Village Way, Brighton BN1 9BL
Sunday, 26th December 2018. Kick-off time: 5.15pm
(4-2-3-1) Leno; Lichtsteiner, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolašinac; Xhaka; Torreira; Guendouzi, Özil, Lacazette; Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Čech, Elneny, Ramsey, Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Nketiah, Willock.
Yellow Cards: Kolašinac
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Boxing Day at Brighton, shivering on the South Coast! We were defeated here back in March by the odd goal in three with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbing our only goal on the day. Nine months ago, we were floundering with our points tally of 45 in 29 matches which happened to ber our worst record since 1995. Still, it’s a new season with a new manager, so we’ll wait to see what good things that St. Stephen’s Day may hold for us down in Sussex!
Sure enough, seven minutes from the start, our questions were answered with a superb strike from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that put us ahead in the match; some sterling work by Alexandre Lacazette ensured our top-scoring striker made no mistake with an excellent finish that was destined for the back of the Brighton net the very second that the ball left PEA’s boot. For the next half hour we were in the ascendancy with two very good chances from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang that brought out the best in the Brighton goalkeeper, Mat Ryan, who to be fair, kept them in the match more than once at this point in time. Then, as in a few matches in the Premiership this season, we somehow pushed the self-destruct button. A ball that was seemingly going nowhere, was headed into the direction of Brighton’s centre-forward Jurgen Locadia, who simply went around Bernd Leno to equalise the scores. For the remaining ten mintues of the first half, we appeared to lose the control we once had earlier, and it has to be said that the half-time whistle was a blessing in disguise.
After the break, Mesut Ozil was substituted for young Alex Iwobi, but unfortunately the second half appeared to continue in the same vein as the end of the first for us. Our creativity and ingenuity went awry, whilst The Seagulls sensed that a chance for them to take all three points was now a real possible outcome of the match, with them capitalising on every missed tackle and stray pass that we had the misfortune to do. Bearing in mind that the home side had already had a goal against us ruled out for a foul in the previous half, it seemed to be that they now had the key to the door of our defence. When we did move forward, it was thanks to the creative vision of Mattéo Guendouzi, who tirelessly tried to find ways through the Brighton defence, and in doing so became the recipient of some very strong and physical tackling, most of which were unnecessary assaults on the young midfielder. Mr. Emery replaced Alexandre Lacazette with Aaron Ramsey after the hour, and ten mintues later, the still not-quite-match-fit Laurent Koscielny headed for the bench with Ainsley Maitland-Niles taking the field in his place. It didn’t matter either way as the home side found renewed confidence and endlessly put together chances to try and sneak in the winner during the latter stages of the match. Thankfully, despite one or two close shaves, we got away with a point from a match that in essence was in places quite a dull affair with sparks of action.
In less than a week’s time, the January transfer window opens, and with it arrives the opportunity for Mr. Emery to flex his financial muscles and purchase new players to add to his squad – and boy, don’t we need it! If we are to progress to cup finals and regular top four places in the Premiership, then we surely need players that will mirror our ambitions, because at the moment, we are there for the taking, and it has been some kind of miracle that we have not been punished badly for our weaknesses in defence. Our next match is the rampant Liverpool at Anfield on early Saturday evening, and it has to be said that despite our injuries, we need to get a result from that game, but after viewing the events of today’s match at Brighton, it could be a very difficult game for us. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
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