Seeking to get their top-four charge right back on track, Arsenal welcome Brighton & Hove Albion to the Emirates Stadium for Saturday’s Premier League encounter.
The Gunners were outfought and outclassed in a 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Monday, while Graham Potter’s side most recently drew 0-0 with Norwich City.
Everything that could go wrong at Selhurst Park did go wrong for Arsenal and Mikel Arteta, who took it upon himself to apologise for his side’s “unacceptable” performance, which was certainly a contender for their worst showing of the season.
Jean-Philippe Mateta, Jordan Ayew and Wilfried Zaha’s finishes handed Palace a deserved dominant win as Patrick Vieira got one over his former employers, while injuries to Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey before and during the game rubbed salt into the wounds.
Talk of Arsenal’s season being “over” is of course very premature, as despite their humbling at the hands of the Eagles, the fifth-placed Gunners still have their Champions League destiny in their own hands, with Tottenham Hotspur only clear on goal difference having played a game more.
Whichever North London club makes the top four could very well be determined in what ought to be a pulsating derby encounter on May 12, but for the time being, Arsenal will welcome a return to the Emirates as the third-best home team in the Premier League this season.
Indeed, the Gunners have claimed 10 wins from 14 on home soil in the top flight since the beginning of September, and their only defeats at the Emirates this term have come to Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, so a chance to boost their morale and standing in the table surely lies ahead.
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter applauds fans after the match on April 2, 2022© Reuters
Before sulking at Selhurst Park, Arsenal fans would have revelled in witnessing nemesis Neal Maupay miss the chance to end Brighton’s barren run in front of goal, as the Seagulls were forced into a share of the spoils against a beleaguered Norwich City.
With 29 minutes on the clock, Maupay blasted his spot kick over the bar and also missed a number of other opportunities to break the deadlock at the Amex Stadium, as Potter’s men continue their stark decline following an eye-catching start to the season.
Having now failed to score in each of their last three Premier League encounters – as well as six from their last seven in the top flight – Brighton have plummeted to 13th in the rankings but are still comfortably 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
The stalemate with Norwich did at least end a six-game losing run for Brighton, but failure to get one over the league’s basement side at home is hardly ideal before a trip to North London – especially seeing as they have won just twice away from home since October.
Potter’s side did manage to hold Arsenal to a 0-0 draw on the South Coast earlier this season, but the Gunners won 2-0 at home on the final day of the 2020-21 season and have now kept three clean sheets on the bounce versus the Seagulls.