Arsenal are in the midst of a good run of form. The Gunners have won five of their last six matches along with drawing against Chelsea. They haven’t conceded a goal in the Premier League since the Liverpool debacle, keeping three straight clean sheets. They will look to continue that form on Sunday as newly promoted Brighton and Hove Albion visit the Emirates.
Brighton are off to a decent start with 7 points but have struggled to find goals away from home. To make matters worse, the Seagulls will be without the services of joint top-scorer Tomer Hemed (2 goals) who received a three-match ban for stamping on DeAndre Yedlin last weekend. I expect Brighton to stay compact and look to hit on the counter through wide players Anthony Knockaert, last year’s player of the year in the Championship, and Solly March.
On the Arsenal side of things, Mesut Özil (knee) is not available, Laurent Koscielny (achilles) faces a fitness test and may not be available, and Alex Iwobi (thigh) may be ready to play. Unfortunately, we will probably see more late fitness tests for Koscielny as he ages – the Frenchman revealed last season that he requires daily maintenance/treatment on his achilles for an ailment diagnosed back in 2014.
If Iwobi is fit, I think he plays in Özil’s spot in the attacking three. Rob Holding is the most likely candidate to replace Koscielny should he be unavailable. Things get a bit more interesting if Iwobi cannot play. In that case, I think Aaron Ramsey plays the role that he did against West Brom – sitting behind Alexandre Lacazette and Alexis Sánchez, and Mohamed Elneny plays in the midfield.
Another option would be for Olivier Giroud to lead the line, moving Lacazette to the right side of the attacking three. That would allow Ramsey to play the deeper lying role in which Wenger prefers him. It would also (obviously) give Giroud some time in the league and the club a different attacking look. It might be nice to experiment a bit with formations and combinations so that later in the season, whether through injury or a need to spark the side, Wenger has seen what does and doesn’t work.
Arsenal will celebrate its “Arsenal for Everyone” campaign at Sunday’s match. In a post on Arsenal.com, the club reminded supporters that homophobic and discriminatory chants are not banter and will not be tolerated. It’s no coincidence this comes alongside the Brighton match – the Seagulls have already experienced homophobic chants at away matches this season. I sincerely hope that supporters behave themselves, and if they don’t, that stewards take swift action.
Anything other than the full three points will be a disappointing result for the Gunners. With the other top teams banging in three and four goals seemingly with ease, it would be nice to see the same from Arsenal. Tomorrow’s match would be a good time to start.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Brighton and Hove Albion
WHEN: Sunday, October 1st, 4 AM PT | 7 AM EST | 12 noon BST
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
US TV: NBCSN, stream here.
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