One match into Project Restart and Arsenal have already found a way to be behind the eight ball.
Chelsea Sleeper Agent David Luiz put together one of the most destructive shifts by an Arsenal defender that I can remember, and Arsenal left Manchester with zero points, two long-term injuries, and a suspended player. I’d almost be impressed if it didn't all happen in the midst of a congested end-of-season stretch where the Gunners are desperately keeping their heads above water in a tight race for a Champions League spot. But, this is the Arsenal, so should we be all that surprised?
The Gunners were handed a bit of a lifeline in the CL race when Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur played to a 1-1 draw yesterday, which means that the Gunners have a great chance to make up valuable ground against both teams in today’s match. A win today would see the Gunners leapfrog Spurs into 8th place and, depending on results for Wolverhampton and Sheffield United, put Arsenal within touching distance of the top 6. No pressure!
Wednesday’s embarrassment certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of players and fans alike, but with such quick turnarounds for the remainder of the season, the Gunners don’t have the luxury of throwing themselves a pity party right now. Manager Mikel Arteta can see his stock rise tremendously if he can navigate the upcoming fixture list with success, but it won’t come easy. Brighton defeated the Gunners 2-1 at the Emirates in December and have not proven to be an easy test for Arsenal in recent history, as both of last season’s matches ended in 1-1 draws.
The defense, as always, will be the big question mark. With Pablo Mari and Calum Chambers done for the season, Sokratis and Cedric Soares unavailable with injuries, and David Luiz suspended, Arsenal are left with Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding as the only healthy CBs. Academy player Zech Medley traveled with the squad and could very well feature.
Arteta will more than likely rotate his squad heavily after Wednesday. If our predicted line up post is accurate, players like Gabriel Martinelli, Mesut Ozil, and Nicolas Pepe could see considerable time after not seeing the pitch on Wednesday while Alexandre Lacazette will almost certainly lead the attack. The midfield pivot of Dani Ceballos and Matteo Guendouzi was surprisingly spry against City, so a start for both would be unsurprising. Kieran Tierney made an impressive return on Wednesday, but Kolasinac could also start to give Tierney a bit of rest.
Arteta was forced into making early subs against City, so hopefully we will have a better understanding of how he will approach the new five sub option when injuries do not interfere. Arsenal assuredly have a deeper and more talented roster than Brighton, but they need to prove it today.
ARSENAL LINEUP - Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac, Ceballos, Guendouzi, Saka, Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang
BRIGHTON LINE UP - Ryan, Schelotto, Dunk, Webster, Burn, Mooy, Bissouma, Propper, Gross, Maupay, Trossard
WHAT: Arsenal at Brighton & Hove Albion
WHERE: The Amex, Brighton & Hove
WHEN: Saturday, June 20th 7 AM PT | 10 AM ET | 3 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN and Univision. Stream here.
Remember, please do not discuss or share links to illegal streams here.
The Short Fuse’s affiliate partnerships do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.