With a seven-point advantage over Manchester City, 2023 holds great potential for Arsenal. If the World Cup loomed over the beginning of the season and caused significant collateral damage, Mikel Arteta’s squad has yet to lose their stride.
Existence of vulnerabilities. Two late second-half goals from Brighton, one of which was ruled out by VAR, prevented this from becoming a new year’s parade. Arteta may soon have to find a way to conceal his anxieties, beginning with Tuesday’s match against Newcastle.
Gabriel Jesus cut a troubled figure at times, while Bukayo Saka, Martin degaard, Eddie Nketiah, and Gabriel Martinelli are so much more than goal scorers, with degaard producing a delightfully imaginative performance. Arteta remarked, “This is a huge victory, and I’m ecstatic; they made it difficult for us.” Every game is a tremendous test.
Brighton had lost only three of their previous ten Premier League matches against Arsenal, and they would ultimately contribute, but it took them only 70 seconds to concede. After degaard’s charge, Martinelli collected the ball, which was finally deflected for Saka to score.
Robert Sánchez suffocated Oleksandr Zinchenko after he fled along the left side, while Tariq Lamptey battled Martinelli’s buoyancy. The Ghanaian’s skills are in attack, and Brighton’s false No. 9 Leandro Trossard had a shot deflected off his overlap.
Trossard pushed Aaron Ramsdale to make a high save, causing Arteta’s shoes and pant legs to become soiled as he paced. Arteta cursed when Trossard forced Aaron Ramsdale to make the save.
Just before the halftime break, degaard restored a smile to his manager’s face by demonstrating greatness rather than strutting his stuff. The Norwegian’s goal, which resulted from his quick reaction to a second ball from a Saka corner, owed considerably more to luck than to his otherwise excellent technique. “I believe it was an excellent goal,” he remarked. Today, three points were everything.
Arteta said of his captain, “He’s doing exactly what we want him to do, deciding football games.” “All four forwards scored today, which is excellent news.”
Alexis Mac Allister remained missing for Brighton despite being assumed to have sobered up after Argentina’s celebrations. The stadium announcer asked, probably in jest, if anyone had the midfielder’s number as he got enthusiastic applause before kickoff.
The Argentine might have replaced Moises Caicedo, who was sidelined for the 3-1 loss to Southampton after receiving a booking. In midfield, Billy Gilmour and Pascal Gross struggled.
Roberto de Zerbi and club CEO Paul Barber, recently honored in the King’s New Year’s Honours, may soon require additional permanent midfield options, with Mac Allister and Caicedo topping January transfer wishlists. Mac Allister is a member of my Brighton squad, and that’s all I can say,” De Zerbi added.
By scoring within the first minute of the second half, Arsenal appeared to have secured their lead over City. Saka initiated the play before Nketiah charged in after Sánchez could only deflect Martinelli’s shot. Before Jesus’ World Cup injury, Nketiah had never started a Premier League game, but he has scored twice in two games since.
To protect crucial players, Arteta substituted Zinchenko and Ben White for Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomasu while his team led by three goals. When Kaoru Mitoma scored from the space left by a sloppy Japanese teammate, it was a reminder of how reliant Arteta has been on his starting XI, his squad being significantly smaller than their pursuers.
degaard’s spectacular raking pass set up Martinelli’s goal before teenager Evan Ferguson’s first Premier League goal set up a climax in which Brighton displayed a threat that they had lacked in the first half.
“Perhaps we need to exert a little more control over the game,” degaard conceded. We allowed them to score a few times, but they are a good squad with superb ball control.
When Mitoma placed the ball in the net for the second time, a remarkable comeback appeared imminent, but technology intervened. “Martinelli’s final goal ended the game,” said De Zerbi afterward.
Arteta’s visage could not remotely match his frantic demeanor as he demanded calm from the touchline during the last moments. Eventually, he was able to breathe again. His team could see City from a higher vantage point.