@LaboGoon and Season’s greetings one and all.
Arsenal is travelling to the South Coast this afternoon to take on Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX Stadium; a win would lift us into top-four to add a bit of pressure on Chelsea going into their game vs Watford directly following ours.
If the Gunners think they had it tough last time we were on the road, a 3-2 defeat at St Mary’s, also down at the south coast, the Seagulls are the definitive “difficult to play against” side at their home, of the teams outside top-six; something we know all too well about being beaten there 2-1 last season. Chris Hughton’s team is usually well-organised and play from a strong defensive base; 26 goals conceded, two more than us, this campaign into their second season in the top flight is impressive.
They aren’t without issues though and comes into this fixture following three straight defeats, but despite that it’s hard to imagine them being dragged into the relegation battle, so there’s little Chris would need to change about their style. With 6 out of 24 defeats since last season and 13 of their 20 PL goals this campaign at the Amex… the Seagulls is now a pucker middle-class Premier League outfit.
The manner of our win against Burnley was important for Unai Emery and the boys; Özil’s vision for the opener, giving the Clarets as good as we got in the physical challenges and putting the game to bed just as it look like they were putting out all the stops ensured that our players’ confidence and ability weren’t questioned following the back to back defeats.
Our most recent league games against Huddersfield, Southampton and Burnley reminded Unai that there’s no easy games, ergo nothing should be taken for granted. With our next fixture an expected high intensity one against Liverpool in three days the make up of the team will be interesting; ie to rotate or not to rotate, or to just go in with a strong XI to give yourself the best chance of winning and build momentum leading up to the trip up north. Ooh to be Emery.
Chris Hughton’s main concern though will just be whether his team should venture out and attack, or if they should sit in their own half to absorb pressure and rely on counterattacks.
So hard knowing where Premier League managers’ mind are at these modern times.
What we do know is that the Seagulls have one or two attackers that can cause defenders numerous problems, are extremely disciplined and far from comfortable to play against in front of their own fans; and for that reason we will need to match their resilience and take our chances. Today certainly is going to be a different test and I suspect a close encounter to be on the cards.