As predicted in yesterday’s pre-match, our away day trip to the seaside turned out to be tough going.
Brighton are flying high and full of confidence and they dominated proceedings yesterday. On the balance of play they probably deserved all three points, but that’s not how it works.
Resilient defending from Arsenal plus wastefulness on the part of Brighton’s attackers saw us heading back to London with a point in the bag and our recent unbeaten run continuing.
Arteta made only one change from the team that ripped the Spuds apart last weekend – Lokonga coming in for the injured Xhaka – and it may well have been a significant alteration.
Even so, we started very brightly, moving the ball quickly and running at the Seagulls with determination. Saka wriggled through a couple of challenges and into the home side’s box, Smith-Rowe was on the front foot and it felt as if we were carrying straight on from the North London Derby win.
That lasted about 10 minutes.
Then Brighton seized control of the game and never really let it go again. Their high pressing game forced us to mostly kick long and (as Ramsdale admitted in a post-match interview) when we did go long their giant centre backs gobbled up everything that wasn’t straight to our players’ feet (which was most of the clearances).
In possession Brighton looked like a team playing with the confidence that comes from knowing a win will take them to second in the table and they created numerous chances.
However, it is important to point out that these were mostly half chances, not open-goal misses. Our two centre halves had to work their socks off and both did really well.
Ben White was returning to the club he’d left in the summer and, as a result, was on the receiving end of some half-hearted booing from the home fans. I though he seemed nervous for the first 20 minutes but then settled down and was outstanding, as was his partner Gabriel.
New recruit Tomayisu, after a flying start to his Arsenal career, had a bumpier ride in this game and at left back Tierney seemed a little subdued again. Even so, both full backs worked hard for the full 90 minutes.
In central midfield Partey put in a shift and Lokonga looked comfortable whenever he was on the ball, but that particular pairing never managed to take control of the centre of the park for any protracted period. It made me wonder whether we were missing the solid platform that Xhaka gives us. For all his faults, the Swiss offers composure on the ball (most of the time).
Up front, apart from the odd moment, things just didn’t click. Perhaps the blustery, rainy conditions played a part, but our front four of Odegaard, Smith-Rowe, Saka and Aubameyang didn’t click the way they did against the Tiny Totts. Some of the credit for that must go to Brighton’s defending as a team, but we weren’t as sharp as we might have been.
The team had clearly been instructed not to try a committed high press when Brighton had the ball at the back, but it seemed an odd approach to the game. It meant we were sitting back almost on the half way line and allowing the home team to build up their attacks at their leisure.
Plenty for Arteta to work on.
In the end it was a relief to get away with a point, particularly as we’re heading into a two week international break.
Ramsdale – 7.5
He didn’t need to be too busy despite Brighton’s dominance but made a couple of key saves towards the end, including intercepting a ball that was heading to Maupay for a simple tap-in. He said afterwards that hs kicking was off and he wants to improve. His personality and commitment shone through again.
Tomayisu – 6
Worked hard but struggled at times with the Brighton press.
White – 8 (MoTM)
After a nervy start he settled well and dominated the centre of defence, making some excellent blocks and interceptions.
Gabriel – 7.5
He was fully focussed for the entire match and needed to be. His partnership with White is looking very promising and without their performances yesterday we would surely have lost.
Tierney – 6
Is it me, or does Tesco look a bit out-of-sorts? He got forward a couple of times early on to get dangerous crosses in, but his support for the attack dwindled after that. Perhaps it was just that Brighton were pressing so determinedly that he did not have the opportunity to get into the enemy half.
Partey – 7
Apart from his long distance shooting (which poses a serious threat to low flying aircraft) Thomas put in another classy individual performance even though we struggled to get any control in midfield.
Lokonga – 6.5
He looks comfortable on the ball and his commitment is there, but his lack of experience showed at times and almost put us in trouble once or twice.
Odegaard – 6.5
Worked hard as always, but he seemed to be the only Arsenal player attempting a high press (rendering it useless). He did not manage to influence the game as much as he did in the NLD.
Saka – 6.5
Some bright moments, but our inability to control midfield meant his chances to impact the game were few and far between.
Smith-Rowe – 7
Probably the pick of our attackers. Brighton had obviously spotted him as a danger man and made sure to trip him every time he looked to be getting away. A better referee would have booked someone early on for one of these small ‘professional’ fouls but Moss let them go.
Aubameyang – 6
Was caught on the back foot on a couple of the (rare) occasions when we threatened the Brighton goal and was incapable of holding up the ball when receiving it long. The way the game panned out we would probably have been better with Lacazette down the middle as he is better at holding up and laying off.
Pepe – 5
He got a full 30 minutes after coming on for Odegaard. I honestly can’t remember anything that he did.
Lacazette – 6.5
Replaced the ineffectual Aubameyang on 72 minutes and had a couple of moments where his hold-up play helped us relieve the Brighton pressure. No real sniff of goal.
Maitland-Niles – N/A
Came on for Saka in the 90th.
I do not know how you can write such a well balanced and factual match report when I would have written a very acerbic and disappointed summary.
Well done Rocket, your way is the correct one! 😁
As for the player ratings I agree with every word you wrote, but would perhaps have deducted a point from some players because I feel somewhat vindictive today.🙄
You did leave another rating for me to express an opinion, and that is for Mikel.
Some managers have learned to change tactics or strategies during a game when things do not work. Sadly, Mikel keeps making the same mistake of doing nothing instead, in the expectation the team will magically resolve their errors themselves.
Manager Rating: 5
Fair points Redders
I was perhaps a bit generous with the ratings.
Quiet round here, ain’t it?
Looks like a slow death. 🤥
It is really great shame when we have someone like you writing so brilliantly and not being supported.
Oh, well — C’est comme ça 🥺
C’est la vie…. d’un blog.
Thanks, Rocky, excellent and well-balanced report.
Somehow our midfield was not able to keep the ball and going on the offensive. It was difficult to watch how toothless we were.
R.A is right Arteta should have reacted sooner and when Lacazette and Pepe came on we were more effective.
Reacting slowly or at all to a difficult situation is one of the weak spots of MA.
I hope you keep the blog, my experience says that the number of readers here are fluctuating. At the end of the last season, there were many readers lots of interesting conversations and comments.
Please give yourselves/ the blog more time.
I love this place.
Ohh, I just checked and find out that this blog was created more than 10 years ago. I did not know it. Sorry for talking nonsense.
Also sorry for this blog, I loved it.
Great post match report Rocky
Shame Pepe is not doing more.
Love watching Odegaard and ESR playing together
RA, maybe Arteta is influenced by Wenger, let the players play and she’ll be right mate:-)
Keep up the good work AA
In a world of madness, the sanity on here is a welcome relief.
Good morning to all AAers, and, after a week, I now have fuel…..
Happy with the point, if not the ability of the midfield and Aubameyang to shake off the shackles of a team, well drilled and riding high in confidence.
Aubang’s first touch was abysmal and, given your ‘horrific’ comment ( sorry!!! my regular, strong, prejudiced concerns…. re X) about the Swiss absentee, and the introduction of the regularly ineffective and always short on “bottle”, Pepe, I think A THEME MAY BE EVIDENT.
Mikel regularly returns to the selection of and retention during a game not going well, of Aubang, X, and Pepe. Aubang was never going to get space behind a well drilled Brighton defence, especially as we did not have any real control in midfield to enable the dynamic forward passes of the Totteringham game. Lacazette should have been selected to start, or at least changed at halftime.
(X’s lack of speed of mind and body, would, in my opinion, have resulted in another disaster waiting to happen. We would not have got a point with ten men!!)
Pepe has little in the way of aggressive determination when steely opponents push onto him, and proved it again.
My point is linked with the comments from RA. Mikel does not seem to have developed the vision to change dramatically ( and early on) the tactics/shape of the team that Pep, Klopp, Moaninho and Ferguson have/had. A change of structure with another man in midfield to battle was surely called for early on. I would have loved it to be Bissouma, but Elneny playing close to Partey and Sambi when we didnt have the ball, would surely have broken up Brighton’s possession. ( BOdegaard had a poor, ineffective game for him, and should have been subbed at halftime.)
Then Lacazette up front with Saka and Smith-Rowe either side would surely have had more potential to open up BIG defenders with quick one twos.
Just my thoughts on how we might have got more from the game….
I too will never give up on the best Arsenal blog in town, and thank the ” considered” regulars who always try to be positive, for their contributions. Shame we have to put up with another Interlull now.🤬
Thanks Rocky for the pre match and post match – you are a star and a gem!
I think that Arteta could have been a bit more daring in this game from the on-set or at least at the beginning of the second half.
Lacazette was always going to cause Brighton’s defense problem so why not have him start or at least start the second half ahead of Odegaard who was having an off-day. Then, if Auba continued to struggle at the 70th minute, bring in Martinelli on the left side.
I agree that our full-backs also struggled yesterday but that our GK-CB unit is looking decent and promising.
So ultimately, a disappointed game for us, not so much for the result but because we got dominated by Brighton…
7 games into the season:
A. EPL: 11th, 10 points: 3 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses
B. Goals for: 5 ; Goals against: 10.
C. 3 points ahead of 15th position (Watford), 4 points behind 5th place (Everton)
D. 2 points behind Tottenham (go Damn it!)
It is not a stellar start of the season to say the least but the last 4 games have given hope that:
– Arteta may have found his starting XI and preferred set-up
– Our defensive unit is shaping up (Ramsdale, Tomy, White, Gabs, Tierney)
– Our young players like Saka and ESR are ready to take the EPL by storm
There are still some concerns regarding our ability to create and bury chances but hopefully, this too will come. My biggest concern is Odegaard as I believe we can play ESR in the middle and also the fact that we need a more solid back-up DM/CM to complement Partey
I decided to sit this one out, good choice in hindsight. It had the feel of a 0-0 all week.
The weather looked atrocious. Fair play to the Arsenal fans that took the trip down to the south coast to get soaked through.
I think a draw is a good result. That there are lots of moans is a good sign because expectations have been raised after a solid run and the Spurs result.
We have a couple of weeks before a decent run of games. Let’s see what happens.
I get the feeling we are needing a hybrid striker, somewhere between PEA and Laca.
PEA has pace and excels at running on to balls. He struggles holding the ball up and providing chances. Laca holds the ball up well and brings other players into the game, but lacks pace.
Laca is out of contract at the end of the season, he will move on.
Ivan Toney looks the type of player we could do with.
Great comments guys – and all of them sensible.
LGB – spot on (you will have to stop writing things that I cannot disagree with!! 🤪
We do all tend to think the best of Auba – but to be candid, neither Auba or Laca give me confidence – and perhaps it is age that is making them look a bit jaded.
With Laca going in Jan 22, or next summer, and Auba allegedly hankering for a move to Barca or Real, (unlikely in my opinion) I hope the powers that be are making plans for their quality replacements, either ‘bought in’ or from our talented ‘youth acolytes’.
Brighton was a bit of a muck-up, but that happens in football, and hopefully after the ‘inter-lull’ we will take a deep breath and go again – this team can surprise!! 😁
I have great confidence in Martinelli who could play on the wings or through the middle. I think we need to start giving him more playing time…
Saka – ESR – Martinelli
——— Laca ————-
May have been more adapted against Brighton in hindsight…
Martinelli is indeed a great player…potentially. I can’t see him being a hold up player, which is what ESR & Saka look like they need at the moment. But he could be the clinical finisher we have lacked since PEA went off the boil.
We shall see.
Little PSG parenthesis: Pochetinno has no clue!
With the team PSG has, it should be strolling in L1 and in Europe but Pochetinno has no tactical awareness and ultimately, he is not respected by the players.
Question for discussion –
Given the quality of our defenders in the first ten years of the 21st Century- Adams, Cole, Campbell, Keown, Bould, Winterburn, Dixon, Toure, Lauren, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny-
how did we manage to consider worthy of purchase, and pulling on the shirt – Squillaci, Sivestre, Gallas, Lichtensteiner, Luiz, Sokratis, Kolasinac, Mustafi – in the second ten years?
Have we turned a corner – Tierney, Gabriel, White? And should we, by the way, not be hanging on to Mavrapanos, Saliba, and Ballard given the performances they seem to be putting on elsewhere? What has happened to our ability to produce and train quality defenders, if we are honest, the real basis of our success in the Graham and Wenger eras?