Premier League Match Report (20/06/20): Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
The Premier League's ninety-two remaining games, spread across nine rounds of games are set to play out beginning June 17th 2020, with Project Restart's health and safety conditions meaning the remaining games of the season will be played out behind closed doors. We will be providing match reports from these behind closed doors competitive encounters as the league campaign nears its end-game. All aboard.
Match Report (GW30): Brighton 2-1 Arsenal
Looking for a response after their sodden 3-0 defeat away at Man City, Arsenal came out the gates racing, with Nicolas Pepe crossing for Aubameyang after 30-seconds, with the Gabon international unable to properly connect with an acrobatic effort. Brighton then countered though Bissouma' effort as blocked well by Bissouma. With a quick start by both teams, there was sharpness lacking when Bissouma gifted the ball to Aubameyang, though he wasn't able to connect well with a left-footed effort from range.
7-minutes in and the lively Bukayo Saka picked up the ball on the left-hand channel, cut inside and hit a shot against the bar. The pace of the game at this point has refused to slow down. Pressing high as a unit, Ceballos picked up a loose ball in midfield, fed Aubameyang, who in turn played in Lacazette, whose eventual shot ten yards from goal was blocked well by Lewis Dunk.
With Arsenal dominating much of the play and attacking impetus, Saka was lively again at the half-hour mark when his whipped cross was met by Lacazette, though the attacker was unable to generate enough power to see his effort glide past Mat Ryan in the opposing net.
With the game at a good pace, there was a sudden twist after 35-minutes that was to Arsenal's detriment, with Bernd Leno and Neal Maupay colliding. The Gunners shot-stopper, arguably their best player this season was stretchered off and let Maupay know his thoughts on the matter on his way out of the stadium. Replacement, Emiliano Martínez, was called into action almost immedietely as he saved well from an Aaron Mooy stinger at the edge of the box.
In first-half added time Arsenal began to threaten again, firstly with Lacazette misjudging a Saka cross from the left, before Lacazette linked up with Aubameyang with a nice back-heel, though Brighton were able to thrown themselves in the way again to deny Aubameyang a shot on Ryan's goal.
The second-half opened the game up, with end-to-end action. Aubameyang went close to start the second 45-minutes, before having the ball in the net before VAR confirmed his right-foot was off-side when played through. Maupay then tested Martinez at the near-post, before Arsenal finally found a breakthrough at the 65-minute mark when Saka played a simple ball to Pepe on the right. The winger cut in on his left-foot and curled a lovely effort to the right of Ryan's goal for his 5th Premier League goal of the season.
Arsenal showed their defensive frailties yet again this season as they were unable to deal with a Brighton corner at the 73-minute mark. Solly March and Trossard played a short corner before March was able to cross in low. Rob Holding was unable to fully clear his lines, with Lewis Dunk stabbing home the rebound, for Brighton's equaliser.
Into the final 15-minutes, the game continued to open up, with Aubameyang forcing Ryan into a save from range as the away side continued to probe. Aubameyang was blocked off again by Dan Burn to prevent another close-range strike, before Mustafi headed straight down at Ryan as The Gunners showed signs of life after conceding.
With the game settling down to what was looking like another 1-1 draw to mark the return to league action, Aaron Connolly received a ball from fellow substitute Mac Allister, who flicked the ball beautifully for Neal Maupay to run behind Mustafi and fire in a last-gasp winner past Martinez.
Two games on this Saturday afternoon and another game defined by last-gasp drama, and a win for Brighton that could do a long way to ensuring their Premier League survival.
Man of the Match: Lewis Dunk (BHA)
Brighton were compact and defended for their lives all afternoon against an Arsenal side that threatened in close quarters, though Dunk summarised Brighton's fight, literally putting his body on the line to make crucial blocks to keep out near-certain goals from Aubameyang and Lacazette. Showing his instincts at the other end of the pitch, Dunk was in the right place at the right time to score his first home Premier League goal in two years (also against Arsenal).
BHA 2-1 ARS - Insight and Analysis:
This was the first ever live Premier League game at 3pm aired on television in the UK, and ultimately the match didn't disappoint. Personally after watching a drab encounter between Watford and Leicester explode into incredible drama with a couple of goals in extra-time, I wasn't sure we'd see that again, but seeing the Brighton players celebrate Maupay's winner inside The Amex makes this the best moment of the day so far.
Arsenal had the chances to win the game, but have proven toothless yet again away from home this season and ultimately only have themselves to blame for another defeat on the road. Mikel Arteta can't be blamed as he hasn't had enough time to spread his influence on the side, though it is looking like The Gunners might miss out on European football altogether next season - and in truth, it might not be the worst option so the club can focus on actually rebuilding a side that clearly lacks passion, fight and any type of defensive discipline.
Based on this performance, I can't see Brighton going down. They defended like animals and have a few key players in Maupay and Trossard that can get them across the line at the other end of the pitch.
Venue: The Amex Stadium
Manager: Graham Potter
GK: Mat Ryan
DEF: Ezequiel Schelotto (Montoya 71')
DEF: Lewis Dunk
DEF: Adam Webster
DEF: Dan Burn
MID: Aaron Mooy (March 45')
MID: Yves Bissouma (Mac Allister 94+4')
MID: Davy Pröpper
MID: Pascal Gross (Connolly 71')
MID: Leandro Trossard (Stephens '87)
FOR: Neal Maupay
Button, Lamptey, Duffy, Stephens, Mac Allister, Murray, March, Montoya, Connolly
Manager: Mikel Arteta
GK: Bernd Leno (Martinez 40')
DEF: Hector Bellerin
DEF: Shkodran Mustafi
DEF: Rob Holding
DEF: Sead Kolasinac
MID: Dani Ceballos (Willock 87')
MID: Mattéo Guendouzi
MID: Bukayo Saka (Tierney 87')
FOR: Nicolas Pépé (Nelson 87')
FOR: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
FOR: Alexandre Lacazette (Nketiah 78')
Martinez, Medley, Tierney, Maitland-Niles, Ozil, Willock, Nelson, Martinelli, Nketiah
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