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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at Emirates Stadium

Arsenal's season at risk of implosion after shock 2-1 defeat against Brighton at Emirates Stadium

Brighton & Hove Albion had never won a Premier League game in April and they took advantage of a woefully uninspired and decimated Arsenal side to end that unwanted record with an unlikely 2-1 win at Emirates Stadium.

Goals by Leandro Trossard and Enock Mwepu either side of half-time did the job for the Seagulls who looked assured in possession, adventurous on the break and with high commitment levels from each player.

In between, Brighton’s strikes, Brazilian ace Gabriel Martinelli had a headed goal disallowed for offside on the stroke of time following a protracted VAR check that infuriated the home supporters.

Had that one stood, momentum may have well swung in Arsenal’s favour after the interval, but it didn’t and Brighton picked up in the same way as they had left off.

They sat deep, conceded possession to Mikel Arteta’s men for large parts of the game, absorbed the pressure to then hurt them on the break. And when Mwepu found the bottom corner with a wonderful half-volley, there was no way back for Arsenal despite trying their hardest. Late on they pulled one back through Martin Odegaard, who was the his team’s shining light.

But their hardest wasn’t enough as Brighton kept things very tight at the back and as a result made life excruciatingly tough for the Gunners, who lacked a real game plan as their continuous long balls forward reflected.

And as a result, clear-cut chances were at a premium. Added to that was a lack of intensity and inventiveness from their star players Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith-Rowe, who looked out of form and sluggish.

The Gunners’ season is now at risk of implosion as Tottenham can open up a three-point gap with a win against Aston Villa later today.

The frustrated home supporters witnessed a slow start to the game of their unrecognisable team, still coming terms with their 3-0 demolition at Crystal Palace on Monday, almost as if that defeat put a lot of doubts into the players’ heads.

This slow burner burst into life when Trossard put the visitors in control after arrowing a first-time effort into the top corner following Mwepu’s wonderful cutback near the byline on 28 minutes.

Nine minutes later, Smith-Rowe latched onto a loose ball but Lewis Dunk blocked his goal-bound effort with his outstretched leg.

And Brighton came close to a second goal but Caicedo’s shot whistled just wide of the far post with Ramsdale rooted to his spot in the middle of the goal and beaten.

To make matters worse for Arsenal was Martinelli’s disallowed headed goal in injury-time.

It looked as if Arsenal had another spring in their step after the tea break.

Saka drove forward at full-speed before he was brought down by Caicedo but Cedric Soares didn’t make the most with a poorly struck free-kick.

Could Brighton really spring a surprise here after a run of six defeats and one draw from their last seven outings?

They certainly had the belief and conviction to do it and at the hour-mark centre-back Dunk rose majestically only for his header to be saved by Ramsdale.

Minutes later Saka then failed to pounce on a poor clearance from the visitors’ backline as he scuffed his shot just over following a corner.

And after a slick team move, Brighton’s Mwepu was unmarked to send a composed first-time finish beyond the reach of Ramsdale following a quality dipping cutback from Caicedo.

Arsenal didn’t throw in the towel but Albert Sambi Lokonga’s thunderous long ranger flashed just wide of Sanchez’s goal with four minutes to go.

Odegaard, denied by a spectacular one-handed save from Sanchez a minute earlier, set up a grandstand finish with a deflected strike off Danny Welbeck from range.

Arsenal were now attacking at a ferocious level but neither Lokonga whose shot was too close to Sanchez nor Nketiah, who was presented with a glaring opportunity but saw his header palmed away by Sanchez, could nick a late equaliser.

Fate is no longer in Arsenal’s hands in the race for a top-four finish and on current form that is worrying enough.


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