London: Arsenal suffered a significant setback in their attempt to qualify for Champions League with Brighton inflicting a 2-1 defeat on them. As their remaining matches include fixtures against strong oppositions such as, Chelsea, Manchester United, West Ham and Tottenham, it will not be easy for them to haul themselves up into the top-four of the Premier League by the end of the season.
Their manager Mikel Arteta said: “We know this road is taking us nowhere especially considering where we want to be. We still have everything to play for in our last eight games but the first half was really poor again.
“After everything we talked about after losing at Crystal Palace, we did not make it happen on the pitch. We were sloppy with the ball, we were second best in a lot of situations and we didn’t show any purpose or build any momentum.”
He added: “It’s not a problem of attitude. It’s a problem with the courage we showed to play. We didn’t step in and provoke the situation we wanted. We were looking at each other too many times instead to taking ownership. You cannot play like that. You have to make yourself count and today we didn’t do it.”
Arteta went on to say: “So what happens now is that we criticise ourselves a lot and take the slaps we deserve again and then we lift ourselves up. We need to visualise the beautiful challenge ahead and not just sit back and say let’s see what happens.”
There was a lack of intensity in Arsenal’s play from the early chance they missed to score when Gabriel Magalhaes headed wide from a cross by Bukayo Saka. Soon after that, in the 28th minute Brighton took the lead with a long clearance from deep defence that found Enock Mwepu. The Zambian cut-back a pass to Leandro Trossard who firmly drove inside the right post.
In added time at the end of the first half, Arsenal were disallowed an equaliser after long check by VAR which found the header from Martinelli was from a marginally offside position. To make things worse for the Gunners, Brighton extended their lead halfway through the second half with Mwepu’s half volley finding the net from the edge of the box after a fine move from the left by Brighton.
Arsenal hit the cross bar twice from shots by Martin Odegaard and Eddie Nketiah during relentless pressure on the Brighton goal towards the end and finally it resulted in the 89th minute goal by Odegaard whose long-range shot took a deflection from Danny Welbeck to beat the goalkeeper. There were six minutes of stoppage time but that was of no help to the Gunners.
Brighton manager, Graham Potter, said: “To say I’m pleased is an understatement and I’m really pleased for the boys because we’ve been having a tough time lately. It was really a good performance and an even better result against a team that are pushing for the Champions League spaces.”