“I am very frustrated. It is unacceptable the way we lost the game. We like competing and I know we have a young squad but still, we threw the game away. We had to put it to bed earlier. A very difficult one to take. It is unacceptable in the way we lost the game. The fact we missed so many chances, the fact we gave them a goal and we did not compete for the second goal”
That is what the Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said after shambolic defeat against Brighton. There was no David Luiz in defence, who could be blamed for such a below-par display nor was there anything wrong with the team selection. The ifs and buts always remain with any chosen first eleven, but against Brighton Arsenal surfaced a better unit, which would help to erase the nightmare against Manchester City.
The Gunners nearly took the lead in the opening seconds after a through ball from Matteo Guendouzi had prised open the Brighton defence and freed Nicolas Pepe on the right. Pepe crossed to the back post where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang attempted to hook it past Matthew Ryan with an acrobatic bicycle kick but could hit it wide.
Brighton enjoyed plenty of possession in the Arsenal half but could not convert any of it into chances and, after half an hour, it was the visitors who went close once again.
Saka, who was having a fine game, got free on the left and curled in a cross that bounced up invitingly for Lacazette in the six-yard box. Lacazette stooped to head it goalwards but Ryan threw himself to his left to palm it away. It was a fine save but Lacazette should have scored.
Arsenal went close again after 15 minutes when Bukayo Saka ran forward from midfield, collected a return ball from Alexandre Lacazette, and crashed a right-foot drive against the face of the crossbar.
In the stoppage time resulting from Leno’s injury, Arsenal forced one more chance.
This time, Aubameyang and Lacazette linked well in the box and Lacazette’s backheel appeared to have put his strike partner in on goal until Adam Webster snuffed out the danger with a superb interception.
Early in the second half, Lacazette was booked for a late challenge on Ryan but fortunately, the Brighton keeper recovered without needing treatment. At the other end, Martinez proved himself an able deputy once again when he beat away a close-range shot from Maupay, who had found space at the back post when the ball dropped to him from a cross.
Arsenal were wasting opportunities and the score remained 0-0 until Nicolas Pepe gave them the lead in the 68th minute but either they should have defended the goal better or moved on to score more.
Sadly, a lackadaisical defending from a short corner worked by Solly March and Yves Bissouma allowed Lewis Dunk to equalize seven minutes later. In the fifth minute of stoppage time, Maupay dummied and darted on to a clever flicked pass from substitute Aaron Connolly to produce a similarly classy finish – moving Albion five points clear of the bottom three.
It was the second defeat for the Gunners in four days, which leaves them in the ninth place, eight points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.
Their chances of featuring the Champions League look bleak.
Again, there was another cruel outcome for the Gunners – Leno’s screams of pain could be heard clearly in the empty stadium and he remonstrated angrily with Maupay as he was being carried off. He was the third player to have been taken from the field on a stretcher in Arsenal’s opening two games.
The Arsenal camp is in disarray. The return has been nightmarish and with such a dismal display, Arsenal need to put things into perspective if they wish for a change in the future.
Right now, the morale is down, but the best way to lift yourself up is by delivering the best in remaining matches.
It is up to Arteta to fix the team.