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Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion: Hope and Fear – great motivators in tricky fixture [Match Preview]

Arsenal vs. Brighton – Premier League preview

 

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Auba scored in our draw at Brighton, and could get more in the home game.

A former Spurs player no less, Brighton’s manager Chris Hughton, comes to our place to help his side stay in the Premier League.

We got a 1-1 draw on the southern English coast earlier this season, but both us and them have much to play for.

Brighton has been a welcome addition to the Premier League, and their manager has brought forward a decent attacking style. Moreover, they do have some capable players, like Glenn Murray, who stands amongst the best players outside the top six currently.

The riches and glamour of the Premier League are at stake for Brighton, just as much as the riches and glamour of the Champions League are in focus for us. For this reason, this won’t necessarily be an end of season bore-fest. Even if it is a boring game, the intrigue and ramifications for both clubs will surely be telling and exciting.

Context

Brighton and Hove Albion are fighting for their Premier League lives, and did well to get a draw at Wolves. They narrowly lost to Tottenham too, with Eriksen getting them a late winner. With Cardiff City incurring some defeats of late, and with two games remaining,, it seems Brighton are favourites to stay up at this point.

At the time of writing, Brighton stands in seventeenth place, and four points above Cardiff City who are in 18th place. They don’t absolutely need to win in this game – however, they cannot lose, and it would make their last game tenser than needed.  So Brighton would be disciplined, and will look to exploit our weaknesses to try and get something from the game. A Cardiff win this weekend, coupled with us beating Brighton, would surely harm their chances of staying up. Though a defeat in itself cannot relegate them.

There is seemingly a template to play Arsenal – and everybody knows we’re crap defensively. I can see a similar game plan to the Palace home game here – or even the Wolves and Leicester away games. Brighton, given they need something from this game, will look to frustrate us in some capacity. Emery has to anticipate this, since we need the points as badly as they do.

As for us, well we beat Valencia well, even though they had some good chances. But our top four chances are not over. Chelsea is in fourth, and play Watford at home on the same day. So a win here would do well to boost our hopes. I think it’s bad to “luck” our way into the top four, but then I don’t see why this is wrong. Who cares how we get there? We haven’t done well lately, but then we need Champions League football for various reasons, and we have two good opportunities to get it.

 

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We may need to rotate, following our heroics vs. Valencia.

The Valencia away tie will be difficult, despite us being 3-1 up, and I feel Emery will try and keep this in mind. So I expect some rotation to happen in this game.

However, the league – even if we’re relying on Chelsea slipping up – is not over and maybe one shouldn’t be a fail safe over the other. We only have three guaranteed games left this season – and four should we reach the EL final. So whilst some resting may take place, for tiredness/injuries amongst other reasons, this should be limited, since we don’t have many games to go. If this were earlier in the season, like in January or February, then making an opportunity cost could suffice. Here and now, not so much.

However, I would ideally favour the Europa League. It’s a trophy, and unlike our friends nearby we’ve won a few of them lately. And 1994 is way too long without a European trophy – 2000 and 2006 still hurt. The margin for error in my view is the same for either the League or Europa League so we need to stay in the hunt for both.

Formation

Mkhitaryan came on vs. Valencia and did well enough, so I’d start him here.

I’d also go with one up top, since we’d need both Auba and Laca for the Mestalla game.

I’d also go with a 3421, with Mavropanos coming back, and a slightly different midfield balance:

 

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Jenkinson was very poor in the Palace game, but since Maitland-Niles is suspended, I feel a back three with wing-backs better suits our squad at the moment. And we may need more protection in wide areas, since I can see Brighton utilising the channels and this is one of our weak areas.

Elneny isn’t a prime player – and one who is at his level and doesn’t warrant the ire thrown towards him. But it’s a mistake, in my view, to play our full strength midfield, and Elneny is best in a three, or with complementary players. Guendouzi is similar but more progressive than Elneny, but they cannot play together to have a good partnership or balance.

Laca would be on the bench, as will Ozil, and of course Leno will return.

If I were Emery, I’d go for an overall pattern of being forward and on the front foot. If we pass the ball around in midfield well, and Mkhi can get in their defence, we get at them which is something we didn’t do enough in the Palace game. Or even the Leicester and Wolves games to a good extent.

If we are positive from the off, then we can get a win here. Our squad isn’t the best in my view. But we may need to utilise ever some of our less-desired or admired players, if we’re to get what we want this season.

Prediction

Arsenal 1-0 Brighton and Hove Albion

They won’t make it easy for us, but I feel we will have too much for them. Our attacking prowess is too strong for them, but they won’t be “on the beach” and will want something from this game to ensure they play here in the league next season.

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One Response to Arsenal vs. Brighton & Hove Albion: Hope and Fear – great motivators in tricky fixture [Match Preview]

  1. malaysian gunner May 4, 2019 at 2:28 pm #

    Now that Bournemouth have beaten
    Spuds ,its another golden opportunity for the gunners.
    I am afraid they will fluff it again
    thanks to Emery’s tinkering.

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