Spirits are undoubtedly higher around London Colney as Arsenal prepare for Tuesday’s Premier League clash at Brighton & Hove Albion. The Gunners put in a commanding performance against Chelsea on Saturday and earned their first league win since beating Manchester United on November 1st. Tomorrow’s clash with the Seagulls is an important one — a win keeps the momentum going and could prove the start of a turnaround, a poor result knocks the club right back to where they were pre-Chelsea.
Brighton have been a thorn in Arsenal’s side lately, amassing a 3-2-0 record in the last five Premier League meetings between the clubs. In fact, the Gunners have both their lowest PL win percentage and highest PL loss percentage against the Seagulls, per Orbinho.
The last time these two clubs met, Matteo Guendouzi and Neal Maupay had a, uh, slight disagreement that ended up with the Arsenal man grabbing Maupay by the throat after the match, which was the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back in getting Guendouzi exiled from the squad. Maupay then said that Arsenal should “learn some humility” as a team, which was not a very nice thing to say. I hope that Arsenal give him a much-needed dose of humility with tomorrow’s match.
Then again, Brighton’s current form should be humbling enough. Graham Potter’s side is in 16th place, 4 points behind Arsenal, with no wins from their last six league matches (0-4-2). They’ve got a bottom third defense in terms of goals conceded, and Maupay himself just ended a 10-match scoring drought. Given Arsenal’s form up until the Chelsea match, I would have bet on a disappointing result and a Maupay brace, but beating the Blues 3-1 has got me feeling optimistic that brighter days are ahead for the Gunners.
The Gunners will look to exploit the Seagull’s shaky defense with their newfound attacking spark, provided mostly by Gabriel Martinelli. The young Brazilian has wasted no time in reminding people just what a special player he is, and his skill and energy look to be the jumpstart the offense needs. If he’s fit enough to play two games so close together (he came off after 70 minutes against Chelsea), I don’t see how Mikel Arteta doesn’t start him again. Arteta should also give Emile Smith Rowe another start. His movement, advanced link-up play, and willingness to attack the center of the pitch provides something that has been desperately lacking from the Arsenal attack.
I don’t see much reason to change anything from the starting lineup against Chelsea other than swapping a presumably fit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for Alexandre Lacazette. If Martinelli isn’t quite ready, I’d expect Lacazette to keep his place and Aubameyang to play left wing. Mikel Arteta might also opt to start Nicolas Pepe on the right in place of Emile Smith Rowe, but I think that would be a mistake. Arsenal’s attack is so left-side biased that Pepe often finds himself isolated out on the right side, which limits his effectiveness. Better to just lean into the strength of the attack and play ESR, who tends to drift centrally, ostensibly on the right.
Pablo Mari starts again because Gabriel Magalhaes tested positive for COVID-19. The Brazilian centerback will miss at least the next two matches. The earliest he can return is January 9th in the FA Cup against Newcastle, pending negative tests. Willian and David Luiz, who both missed the Chelsea match because they weren’t feeling well, aren’t expected to return to training until Thursday the 31st.
Thomas Partey was pictured training with his teammates today, and the club tweeted that he had an individual workout as well. Given that his injury was a recurrence of a previous one and the tendency for muscular injuries to linger, I’d expect the club to be cautious with his return, but then again, I’m not a doctor. Looking at the schedule, I’d wager he maybe gets a runout in that FA Cup match on the 9th with an eye to being available to start on the 14th against Crystal Palace.
Brighton’s breakout right back Tariq Lamptey missed their recent match against West Ham, but his hamstring injury isn’t thought to be terribly serious. Nevertheless, Graham Potter expects him to miss tomorrow’s match and likely Brighton’s match with Wolves at the weekend. Lamptey has recently been linked with a move to Arsenal as Hector Bellerin to Barcelona rumors are once again swirling. Graham Potter will likely be without marquee summer signing Adam Lallana who left the West Ham match with a groin problem. No word on Aaron Connolly’s status, who was a late scratch for that West Ham match. Florin Andone and Jose Izquierdo are both out.
How’re you feeling about tomorrow’s tilt? Would you also keep the lineup mostly unchanged?
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