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Match report: Arsenal 1, Brighton 2

That was a painful one.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Arsenal - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Arsenal lost 2-1 to Brighton, and I think we’re just about out of original things to say.

The Gunners provided most of the offense in the opening minutes, but after a few tries at Brighton’s goal, a quick Brighton counterattack led to a corner at the other end of the pitch in the 6th minute. Petr Cech punched the incoming cross away from the far post, but he didn’t get much power on it, and it went straight to Lewis Dunk, who volleyed it back toward the middle of the goal for the first score of the game.

Arsenal found it difficult to fight back, keeping the bulk of play in Brighton’s end but not managing to get off many shots. None of the midfielders seemed to be on the same page with each other, and they couldn’t make it through Brighton’s defense. And then, in the 27th minute, a sloppy giveaway in Arsenal’s own half led to a Brighton breakaway and a lofted pass onto the head of Glenn Murray, who had slipped between Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers and put the ball past Cech for Brighton’s second.

The communication problems persisted, but finally, in the 43rd minute, Arsenal strung a few passes together in Brighton’s box. Alex Iwobi laid it off to Granit Xhaka, and Xhaka picked a precise pass between three Brighton defenders to Aubameyang, who put his backheel over Mathew Ryan and into the back of the net. Arsenal kept the pressure on and nearly equalized as the half came to a close, but Laurent Koscielny’s header hit the post and ricocheted away, and the Gunners went into the break trailing by a goal. Along with pulling one back, they picked up two yellow cards, one to Sead Kolašinac for dissent, and the other to Jack Wilshere for upending a Brighton player.

The second half started slowly for Arsenal, but after a bit of a warmup they began challenging Brighton as the hosts sat back a little and tried to protect their lead. Referee Stuart Attwell’s book filled up quickly, first with a soft yellow for Xhaka, and then two for Brighton, given to Dale Stephens and Ezequiel Schelotto for returning Wilshere’s favor. Arsenal nearly equalized again, with Mesut Özil hitting a long shot and forcing Ryan to tip it past the post.

The game came to a halt around the 65th minute, though, when a clash of heads between Kolašinac and Schelotto left the Brighton player flat on the pitch. Thankfully, Schelotto walked off under his own power after talking to Brighton medical staff, and Bruno replaced him. Kolašinac was probably lucky not to pick up a second yellow card.

After play restarted, Brighton seemed to remember what had been working for them in the first half, and the two teams traded attacks and counters without getting anything out of it. Arsenal brought on Danny Welbeck for Iwobi in the 74th minute, and then Eddie Nketiah for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Hector Bellerin for Chambers in the 83rd minute, trying to add some pace to a tiring side. Meanwhile, Pascal Groß and José Izquierdo nearly put the game away for Brighton, but Izquierdo was offside and his goal was disallowed.

Arsenal had seven minutes of stoppage time to get some points out of the match, and Aubameyang nearly did it in the 93rd minute, but his shot went straight at Ryan. That was the Gunners’ last real chance, and the game ended four minutes later at 2-1. The entire game was filled with simple mistakes, and that scoreline unfortunately seems about right. If it wasn’t apparent already, it’s abundantly clear now that Arsenal need a defensive overhaul as soon as possible, whether that’s in the form of the system or the coaching or the players or a combination of all three.

Arsenal’s next game is on Thursday, March 8th, against Milan in the Europa League—perhaps they’ll be able to pull themselves together by then.