Most of Arsenal-land have probably come down from last weekend empathic North London Derby win. Just in time for another Premier League tilt. Up today, a trip down the A23 to the south coast to visit Ben White’s old stomping grounds, Brighton & Hove Albion. It’ll be the first time in nearly 40 years that the Gunners have faced the Seagulls looking up at them in the table.
Graham Potter has Brighton off to a high-flying start and tied 6th in the early season table. They wobbled just a little bit last weekend, drawing Crystal Palace, but have been playing well and scoring goals, the goals part being very much their bugaboo last season. Amusingly, last season, the Seagulls were statistical monsters, racking up xG but unable to convert into actual goals. So far this season, they’ve overperformed both their xG and xGA, good for 5.5 points above expected (caveats about small sample size apply). So for me, it’s still an open question whether they’re actually any good or just off to a hot start, primed to come back down to earth.
It feels as if Arsenal turned a page with the 3-1 drubbing of Tottenham, but as Tony wrote, there have been plenty of false dawns in North London since Arsene Wenger left the club. The (significant?) loss of Granit Xhaka aside, Mikel Arteta still has a full complement of players available. Will it be more of the same high-pressing, quick-breaking from his side or will they revert to the uninspired, mostly plodding side to which we’ve become accustomed?
Brighton have been bitten by the injury bug of late. Enock Mwepu, Adam Webster, Steven Alzate, and our old friend Danny Welbeck are all out of today’s contest. More importantly, Yves Bissouma is a doubt with a knee problem. If he can’t go or is limited, it’s a big break for the Gunners. Brighton are a fraction of themselves without them, and Martin Ødegaard and company will have the run of the midfield.
I’m feeling confident about this one. I think Arsenal win 2-0.
Lokonga in for Xhaka
And for the home side:
WHAT: Arsenal at Brighton & Hove Albion
WHERE: The Amex, Brighton & Hove
WHEN: Saturday, October 2nd 9:30 am PT | 12:30 pm ET | 5:30 pm BT
US TV: NBC and UNIVERSO. Streaming on FuboTV ($$$) and NBCSports.com (TV provider login).
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