Arsenal extended their winless run to nine matches after slumping to a 2-1 home defeat against Graham Potter’s Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League at the Emirates on Friday. Arsenal sacked head coach Unai Emery after the Gunners lost their previous home game to Eintracht Frankfurt, but interim coach Fredrik Ljungberg has been unable to turn the fortunes of the North Londoners as they suffered a second consecutive defeat at a half-empty Emirates.

Heading into the midweek round of fixtures, Arsenal drew 2-2 away at Norwich City. Ljungberg was expected to do well at home, but the Gunners seemed to lack the ability to create any intent off the ball. Brighton dominated possession right from the get-go, having come into the game without a win against the ‘Elite six’ of English football.

Their dominance in the middle of the park, where Arsenal were easily overpowered, allowed Brighton to have 51% possession as compared to the home side’s 48%.

This was enough as the Seagulls looked the more mature side at the Emirates. The slightly extra possession allowed Brighton to amass 20 shots, with nine of them on target. Arsenal, meanwhile, managed only 12 shots, with five of them on target. After a mildly strong start, Arsenal were repeatedly caught on the break, with Arsenal unable to decipher the Seagull’s game plan when in possession.

Attack is alive

Granit Xhaka put up another abject performance, and while Joe Willock is definitely a talent, he is still not mature enough to read the game, as was demonstrated by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s frustration at the youngster in the first half and his subsequent substitution at half time.

The only time Arsenal look threatening is when they are attacking. The confidence of the team while going forward has seemingly improved under the interim coach, but this means nothing unless the attackers can work on getting themselves onside.

Arsenal registered seven offsides against Brighton. The maturity of this new-look Brighton side is evident by the fact that Brighton were not caught offside even once.

Defensive woes continue

Arsenal’s defending has been more than abject, having conceded yet another set piece goal against Brighton, now a total of eleven this season. The problems of a zonal marking system that plagued the Wenger era allowed a Brighton side full of tall, bulky players to put the Seagulls ahead.

The backline was continuously caught out of position, and the threat of pacy forwards Aaron Connolly and Neal Maupay could not be stopped by Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz.

Graham Potter is only the seventh English coach to beat Arsenal at home, and this was the second time he had done so, beating the Gunners during his tenure with Swedish club Ostersunds FK, back in February, 2018. This was also the first time Brighton had beaten any team from the ‘Elite six’. Arsenal have endured their worst start to a season since 1992, thereby proving that maybe their problems might be beyond the coaching hierarchy.

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Feature image courtesy: AFP/ Ben Stansall