It’s rarely a good sign when a team holds a players only meeting. It’s even worse when one of the team leaders fights through tears to address his teammates. But that was Arsenal and Laurent Koscielny earlier this week.
Arsenal have endured three bad losses in a row: a home loss to Östersunds in the Europa League and two dismantlings at the hands of Manchester City. The players want “more support” from Arsene Wenger. Arsene Wenger wants the players to play as though their place at the club depends on it. Arsenal are a team on the brink.
But hope springs eternal - there is always the next game to turn things around. For the Gunners, that game is away to Brighton, a mid-table team on a strong run of form. The Seagulls are 3-2-0 in their last five and scored 7 in their last two matches combined. When the two sides met at the Emirates in October, Arsenal prevailed 2-0 on the strength of goals from Nacho Monreal and Alex Iwobi.
The Gunners will be without their left back turned scoring machine, however. Monreal is suffering from a back injury and will be unavailable. Jack Wilshere’s status is in doubt - he’s still dealing with the ankle injury that kept him out of the City game. Arsenal will also be without long-term absentees Alexandre Lacazette and Santi Cazorla.
Getting the first goal is always important, but tomorrow for Arsenal, it’s essential. Going ahead would calm the nerves and restore belief for the players. If Arsenal give up the first goal, the “here we go again” thoughts creep in, mistakes compound, and things could spiral out of control.
I still believe in this team. They have too much talent and too many veteran players to stay down for long. Let’s hope I’m right.
WHAT: Arsenal at Brighton & Hove Albion
WHERE: The Amex, Falmer, East Sussex
WHEN: Sunday, March 4th, 5:30 AM PT | 8:30 AM ET | 1:30 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN. Stream here.
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