4.17pm EST 16:17 “I was listening to one of those learned podcasts we’re always being encouraged to improve ourselves with, and it turns out that Hope hasn’t always had a good press among the philosophers,” lectures Charles Antaki. “Apparently there’s some feeling that Zeus arranged that it should remain in Pandora’s box of vices precisely
“I was listening to one of those learned podcasts we’re always being encouraged to improve ourselves with, and it turns out that Hope hasn’t always had a good press among the philosophers,” lectures Charles Antaki. “Apparently there’s some feeling that Zeus arranged that it should remain in Pandora’s box of vices precisely because it was the most pernicious of the lot. Nietzsche didn’t think much of it either. And now legions of Arsenal fans.” Don’t fret, Charles: Pepe is about to come on ….
Half-time: Arsenal 0-1 Brighton
“Booooooooo!” is the familiar verdict from home fans. Their team have been disjointed and slow, the total opposite of Brighton, who have had the majority of possession and been clever and constructive with it. They know what they’re doing, whereas Arsenal have got nothing but spasmodic bluster and glimpses of talent. The Probability Indicator say Brighton are cruising to victory here, Ljungberg isnt getting this job full-time and the New Manager will have his work cut out.
45 min: Sokratis booked for sliding into to the back of Connolly’s legs near the corner flag.
44 min: Aubameyang sends over another useful cross from the right. It comes to Lacazette, who goes down under a light challenge by Webster. No penalty, reckons the referee. At first look that seems right.
41 min: Connolly collects a nice pass from Mooy but is too slow to feed Maupay. Otherwise Brighton would have surely been in for goal number two.
40 min: Aubameyang leaves Burn for dead down the right and then measures out a fine cross. Lacazette meets it with a header seven yards out … and Ryan makes an excellent save! Much better from Arsenal!
39 min: Brighton stream forward anew, and Arsenal are lucky that the final ball towards Connolly is overhit. “The Arsenal back line simply retreats and retreats,” notes Mary Waltz. “Don’t they know how to challenge a onrushing attacker?” In fairness to them, they are getting zero protection from midfield – Brighton are free to run at them in numbers.
37 min: The sound you can hear is either Arsenal fans whingeing or the Amazon Probability Indicator smashing into a million useless pieces on the ground after being chucked out of a window with righteous vigour ….
GOAL! Arsenal 0-1 Brighton (Webster 36)
That’s been coming! Brun nods a corner to the edge of the six-yad box, where Connolly took it down and tried to shoot on the swivel. It as taken off his foot by a defender but fell to Webster, who swept it into the net from eight yards!
35 min: David Luiz, spooked by Connolly’s ferocious pressing, donks the ball straight out of play for a Brighton throw-in, then throws his hands up at the lack of options provided by teammates. Arsenal fans’ grumbling is growing louder …
34 min: Propper canters through midfield and has a pop from 20 yards. Leno makes another save. Arsenal are increasingly nervous and ragged, other than their goalkeeper.
33 min: Maupay lets fly from 25 yards after a quickly taken Brighton freekick. While Arsenal’s defenders dozed, Leno was alert enough to dive to his left and push the ball away.
30 min: Brighton are having the majority of possession and passing with far more confidence and purpose than Arsenal have mustered so far.
28 min: Arsenal work up a storm around the opposing box. Torreira’s miskick from outside the area finds its way to Aubameyang, whose low effort from the right-hand side wobbles wide. “I’ve been an Arsenal follower since 1953, I’m in my hospital bed in Melbourne recovering after a cancer op,” says Ray Brindle. “Are there any signs so far that the Gunners will give me a hope for a reverse in fortunes?” At the moment I’s say Arsenal’s most likely source of a goal is a penalty, because Brighton’s defenders are quick to grab shirts on the rare occasions Arsenal apply pressure in the box. Soonoer or later the ref is going to spot it, you suspect. Get well soon!
26 min: Mooy’s delivery from the left finds Maupay beyond the far post. The Frenchman takes it down and cracks a fierce low shot just wide of the other post from a difficult angle.
25 min: Three players converge on Connolly at the edge of the Arsenal area but the young striker manages to win a corner. “Does the Amazon Win Probability Indicator work like Duckworth-Lewis in cricket,” wonders Graeme Thorns. “So that if the floodlights failed, there was a freak flood submerging the pitch or any other way the match is abandoned, then Arsenal would be awarded the win?” Probably not.
24 min: Ebster gets his head to Gross’ outswinging corner. Leno makes another comfortable save.
23 min: Gross bangs the freekick straight into the wall he had been watching get assembled for the past two minutes.
22 min: No quick freekick by Brighton this time, unlike at Anfield …. Arsenal are still setting up their wall
20 min: Connolly goes down in the Arsenal box as he tries to latch on to a clipped pass by Stephens. Bellerin pulled him back and gets a booking. The ref awards a freekick just outside the box..
18 min: Connolly jinks on the his right foot at the left-hand corner of the Arsenal box and tries to send a curler into the far corner of the net. But it’s too close to Leno, who makes a straightforward save.
15 min: Steady buildup by Brighton, featuring a nice burst by Mooy past Bellerin. But then David Luiz steps in front of Connolly to make a good interception.
13 min: According to Amazon new-fangled “Win probability indicator”, Arsenal have a 53% chance of winning this match based on the play so far. Brighton have just 15% chance. I put it to you that that is 100% bilge.
12 min: Brilliant interplay between Xhaka, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette before the Frenchman forces a good save from Ryan from 10 yards …. but it wouldn’t have counted, as the flag was up for offside.
10 min: Brighton half-clear a corner. The ball is worked to David Luiz at the right-hand corner of the box. He rasps a low ball across the face of goal. Ryan gets down to snaffle it.
9 min: Ozil and Kolasinc combine down the left before the German sends over a cross that Burn feels obliged to head behind for a corner. Ozil delivers that, too, and Lacazette gets a good flick on it at the near post despite a shove from Gross.
7 min: Brighton have settled into a nice passing rhythm, but Arsenal are working hard without the ball to restrict space.
5 min: Bellerin fires over a low cross from the right. Ozil tries to flick it on artfully. Alzate puts it out for a corner. Ozil’s delivery is wellied clear at the penalty spot by Maupay.
3 min: Mooy digs out a cross from the left. It’s hoofed clear by Mesut Ozil, of all people.
2 min: Aubameyang, operating wide on the left it seems, gives the ball away with his first touch. Brighton start passing it around methodically … until they, too, give it away, and Dunk has to make an important interception to stop Arsenal from taking advantage.
1 min: Arsenal v Brighton is go! But only after Lacazette throws a dummy before taking kickoff. Classic Arsenal.
The players enter the arena to warm applause. Ljungberg takes his place in the dugout. He’s wearing a big coat zipped up to his neck so I can’t tell you whether he’s got a shirt and tie underneath: sorry, Paul Scholes.
In other news, Newcastle have taken the lead at Sheffiled United thanks to Allan Saint-Maxims first goal for the club. Steve Bruce’s Black and White Army are on the march!
And here’s thought for the day, from Justin Kavanagh. “Has Arsenal’s negative goal difference got much to do with the presence of the Brazilian enigma who was at the heart of the 7-1 World Cup semi-final heartbreak, do you think? Clearly, he is a fine footballer, and can deliver a wonderful long pass, but I’ve always had a suspicion that he’d be a much better deep midfielder than a centre-half (who can’t seem to keep track of his marker).” Well, yes, a deep midfielder (or a centreback in a three-man defence) and possibly a better one than any of Arsenal’s current crop. The problem goes beyond one player – Arsenal’s is a very unbalanced squad; and conceding is certainly a problem, but that negative difference is also because they’re not scoring anywhere near as many as they should. Burnley and Villa has netted more than them so far this season. Still, I fancy them to nick another 2-2 today (which is why Aubameyang is my fantasy captain again).
Here are the thoughts of Kim “No Relation” Doyle: “With Freddie and Per at the helm of the Gunners, I expect the return of quick attacking, one or two touch football. The real problem has been in the defensive midfielder position(s) – with teams attacker through the middle, almost at will. Torreira needs to return to the combative form that he showed in his first several Arsenal starts of last season. Like the classical Hero the Gunners have gone down to the underworld but now will return to the Land of the Living.”
David Luiz has been stating the obvious: “In modern football everyone has to understand both moments of the game – attacking and defending … We have to improve this immediately because it’s been a long time since you can see that nobody can score against us.”
As for Brighton, Pascal Gross says the keys to them winning today will be “patience on the ball, be brave on the ball and then use your chances.”
Ljungberg has made three changes to the lineup that started at Carrow Road, with Mustafi jilted to enable Sokratis to return. Bellerin comes in at right-back. Still no place for Pepe, though.
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Sokratis, David Luiz, Kolasinac; Willock, Xhaka, Torreira; Ozil; Aubameyang, Lacazette
Subs: Martinez, Guendouzi, Tierney, Pepe, Martinelli, Nelson, Chambers
Brighton: Ryan; Webster, Dunk, Stephens; Alzate, Propper, Mooy, Gross, Burn; Maupay, Connolly
Subs: Bissouma, Duffy, Button, Bernardo, Murray, Trossard, Montoya
Referee: G Scott
Arsenal have two of the best strikers around – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. Their highest paid player is a creative midfielder. And in the summer they spent a record fee on an exciting forward. So it has taken extraordinary incompetence for them to reach the 14-game mark with a negative goal difference. And that’s just one reason why Unai Emery got the boot. Yes, Arsenal are, in the throes of a crisis. They are desperately seeking a full-time manager and a coherent way of playing. And, er, they are four points and six places above Brighton, who are so happy with their gaffer that they’ve just handed him a six-year contract extension without being asked.
The thing is, Graham Potter has given Brighton a sense of direction even if results have yet to live up to the promise shown. He has generated belief. Arsenal, alas, remain a club riddled with doubts, possibly even despair, at least for some. Temporary boss Freddie Ljungberg didn’t do a heck of a lot to change that in his first match in charge even if there were brief spells of encouragement during the draw at Norwich. Let’s see if the visit of Brighton to the Emirates bring any more cheer to Arsenal fans, and justifies the Seagulls’ faith in Potter.